Like all things mechanical, the serpentine belt tensioner and idler pulley on C5 engines will eventually wear, develop play, and require replacement. A slight squeaking noise coming from either the tensioner pulley or the idler pulley-or both-is a good indication that it's time to install new units.

Personally, I always prefer to be safe rather than sorry, so when it became necessary to replace the tensioner on my wife's C5 ragtop, I decided to replace the idler pulley and put on a new serpentine belt at the same time. My reasoning here was that if one element (the tensioner) had sufficient wear and required replacement, then the idler pulley couldn't be far behind. And even though the belt didn't look at all bad, this was the ideal time to install a new one, since the old one had to come off anyway to replace the pulleys. The belt, tensioner, and idler pulley were all ordered from Corvette Central (www.corvettecentral.com).

I decided to stow the old serpentine belt in the trunk of the C5, rather than throwing it away. It only weighs a few ounces and doesn't take up much room, so what's the harm in keeping it in the trunk? After all, you never know when an emergency might arise and it could save the day-if not for me, then maybe for some other Corvette owner on the side of the road that I might be able to rescue, right?

The only tools needed for this job are a 15mm combination wrench, a 15mm socket, and a ratchet. Replacing these three items isn't complicated, so even a novice wrench should be able to do it in well under an hour. Just follow the captioned pix and you'll breeze right through it.

Corvette Central Parts List
Part # Description
305133 '97-'04 Engine Drive Belt (Water Pump, Pwr. Steer., Alt.)
305308 '97-'04 Idler Belt Pulley
305124 '97-'00 Drive Belt Tensioner

Tools Required: 15mm combination wrench, 15mm socket, and ratchet
Time Start To Finish: Under 1 hour

Difficulty Index - 2 Wrenches
Anyone’s Project: no tools required1 Wrench
Beginner: basic tools2 Wrenches
Experienced: special tools3 Wrenches
Accomplished: special tools and outside help4 Wrenches
Professionals Only: send this work out5 Wrenches