Stretch belts are not easy to install and you can even damage them because of twisting. A screwdriver sometimes works well, but it’s not so convenient. I feel that with it you can ruin the pulley or belt and once I even got a very painful trapped finger. A stretch belt tool is a handy device to help you install the belt on the pulley. You can find such devices made of plastic and metal, simple and complex, with pliers, pins or magnetic fixation. Read our article to find the best stretch fit belt tools for you tasks.
Why do you need the tool
Many of the car owners have found out (either the hard or easy way), that some belts doesn’t have an adjustable tensioner to fit the accessory drive belts. These belts are “stretch”, they are designed to be stretched by special tools. Some of them are also designed to be “single use” and shouldn’t be re-used (read the documentation).
For example, Ford in former times sold the Fiesta stretch belts with the special tool to install them. Now the kit is not available, they sell only the belts. Nevertheless, there are some aftermarket alternatives, which we will discuss below.
Plastic Stretch Belt Installation Tool
A plastic tools will be fine, they are cheap and you can buy several types easily. Sometimes these come in a pack: the first for removing and another for putting the belt in on. I think that usually you don’t really need to remove the belt and most often it is just cut off the pulley with a knife.
ZKTOOL 1022 is nylon plastic install and remove tool to be placed on a pulley to slip-on or slip-off stretch fit belts. It is light, compact and convenient to use in narrow spaces and can be used on the front or back side of the pulley.
The material surely won’t damage the belt or pulley. The plastic, of course, is not so tough as steel, but given the price, I recommend buying two sets, or this and another type. This offers you a back up and some alternative if using the first one will be inconvenient or won’t fit your belt. Buy one and I think you should be happy. Buy two and I think you will be happy.
Metal stretch fit belt tools
Good example here is a 91031 universal tool. Theoretically, it can be used for any engine, but in fact a bolt hole doesn’t always line up with the flywheel pulley. Nevertheless, even if it doesn’t, the stretch fit belt tool holds in by the tension until the slips on. The bolt is used basically for alignment in the pulley and doesn’t really assist the installation of the belt. So just use the tool without bolt. As always, you need to do exert a lot of force at the end, but there’s really no other way to do it!
The way you use it isn’t complicated and the 91030 just puts on the belt on to the pulleys, all you have to do is set it in position and crank the pulley so it can turn.
Gates 91030 can be successfully used with Mazda 5, Mazda 3 2.3L (without the bolt) GM5.3, Chevrolet Silverado 6.2L, etc. The only thing you need to consider is that the location where you need insert hasn’t be too close to the engine block to fit the tool in there.
Lisle 59370 is a US made two-in-a-one of installation and removal tool. It holds in place on the pulley with a magnetic faces and can be used on the front or back side.
Once again, though the tool is claimed to be universal, the magnet doesn’t stick in a right position to the crank pulley. But almost always you can figure out how to position it, and turn the crank to get the belt on. This metal device is very durable and tough, this is an important feature taking into account it’s the only thing that can take the pressure of the belt. Works on the Hyundai, Kia, some Mazda and Chevys if it fits behind the crank pulley. For Ford Fiesta and BMW Gates 91030 works fine.
Subaru Stretch Belt Tool – Gates 91031 Micro-V Kit
The Gates kit is designed to hold automotive Micro-V belt driven pulleys. It grasps the pulley just as a drive belt. The tool is required for newer Subaru and works perfectly. Works good with Subaru Forester, Impreza, Outback 2.5L engines.
Make sure you have the transmission in neutral or you’ll bend the pc that goes into the crank pulley. The install doesn’t become simple, but the tool makes an impossible task possible. Don’t hesitate to buy this tool if you plan on replacing belts (see also Tool box – how to choose what you really need)
Gates Micro-V Kit is not so obvious to use, the directions are not very clear. You’ll save much time if watch a video on YouTube in order to get the things done effectively.
I have seen stretch belt replacement done with a screwdriver or zips, but I highly recommend using specialized tool and personally would not replace the belt without it. Cheap plastic ones are good for tight places, do the job few times and may snap. Sturdy metal versions will serve for years, but they are expensive and usually bulkier. Choose what you need for your project.