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I wasn't sure which forum to post this but RAVE puts it under Electrical so who am I to argue?

I have a 2001 4.6L Vogue. Last Saturday my serpentine belt snapped. There was initially some noise under the bonnet like a branch being dragged along. Then a sort of 'Bang!' & the steering suddenly went really heavy. I guessed immediately that it was the serpentine belt so drove on for a short distance until I found somewhere safe to stop by which time the temperature warning light was on & steam escaping from the header tank cap. The belt was all shredded & it had taken chunks out of half of the fan blades plus another chunk out of the lower fan shroud so the upper fan shroud has nowhere to clip to on the right.

I've had the car brought back to the house & I should have a new belt delivered tomorrow but I just wanted to check a few things. RAVE describes removing the fan but I cannot see any reason for this. The fan isn't in the way at all & removing the fan isn't going to make putting the belt on any easier as far as I can see. I've identified the tensioner & putting a 15mm spanner on it can move it across plenty so it all looks straightforward to put the belt back on. Oddly RAVE doesn't show how the belt runs round the various pulleys. @Gilbertd sent me this image that matches my engine.
enter image description here

I've also found this photo which also shows quite well how it is fitted (the shroud over the two pulleys at top right has been removed)
enter image description here

Are there any hints or tips anyone has? According to an Atlantic British service schedule that I downloaded the serpentine belt should be replaced every 60,000 miles. My P38 has done 166,660 which is about 86,000 more than it had done when I bought it 10 years ago & even though I've had it regularly serviced I don't ever recall mention of a new serpentine belt so I'm not sure when if ever it's been changed.

Will the damaged fan be a problem? I can repair the fan shroud with gaffer tape. It should be all right for cooling as it's just had a new radiator & the fan blades are mostly there but looking moth eaten. Will it be a problem if it's unbalanced? I cannot get a new fan for several days & it looks like a bit of a bugger to get it off unless you buy a special expensive pair of tools so if I don't need to replace the fan as a matter of urgency I would be pleased.

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You don’t need to remove the fan, just the upper part of the fan shroud. Too bad you drove it until it steamed, hopefully no serious engine damage.

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IMHo You should take off the fan anyway, because You'll ruin the water pump / visco coupling sooner or later. You won't have fan blades accelerated flying off under the bonnet, too.
You need a 36mm Spanner and hold the water pump, with the tool it is much easier, but maybe You can get it off without, as Your fan already went south. If it has been 10 years never removed, it usually will need some kind of "persuasion". Lots of solvent in advance, patience and good luck!

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If the blades are only chipped and not cracked, I'd leave it, particularly as you don't have the spanner to take it off. As you've discovered from the diagram, there's not need to take the fan off to fit the belt, it can just be threaded through. Fit it onto all pulleys except the alternator and make sure it is on straight, then heave on the tensioner bolt to give some slack and slip it onto the alternator. Don't trap your fingers, don't want you to end up in A&E.......

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Easiest way to remember how a serpentine belt goes (any serpentine belt) is if the pulley has grooves, the grooved side of the belt goes to it. If the pulley is flat, the flat side of the belt goes to it. Start at the bottom of the crankshaft pulley and work your way around.

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Harv wrote:

You don’t need to remove the fan, just the upper part of the fan shroud. Too bad you drove it until it steamed, hopefully no serious engine damage.

The belt arrived this morning. I'm not sure why I would need to remove the fan shroud as the belt runs quite a way back from there. I have already removed the shroud that covers the two pulleys at top right (whatever they are).

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KCR wrote:

IMHo You should take off the fan anyway, because You'll ruin the water pump / visco coupling sooner or later. You won't have fan blades accelerated flying off under the bonnet, too.
You need a 36mm Spanner and hold the water pump, with the tool it is much easier, but maybe You can get it off without, as Your fan already went south. If it has been 10 years never removed, it usually will need some kind of "persuasion". Lots of solvent in advance, patience and good luck!

The belt arrived this morning. I have a fan on order but it might take another week to arrive. I have just discovered that someone we know here in France has got the fan removal tools for his TD5 which I believe can also be used on the V8 so I will replace the fan when it arrives.

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Gilbertd wrote:

If the blades are only chipped and not cracked, I'd leave it, particularly as you don't have the spanner to take it off. As you've discovered from the diagram, there's not need to take the fan off to fit the belt, it can just be threaded through. Fit it onto all pulleys except the alternator and make sure it is on straight, then heave on the tensioner bolt to give some slack and slip it onto the alternator. Don't trap your fingers, don't want you to end up in A&E.......

The blades are more than chipped. I think that two are intact but the rest have about a third of the blade shaved off. If it wasn't for the intact ones I wouldn't be able to tell how much had been removed.

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Personally, i'd be taking the fan blades off rather than running it with smashed up blades. If the blades fail at high RPM it'll trash the radiator. If its out of balance you'll also ruin the bearings on the water pump in no time.

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You're highly probable correct ... most available tools are advertised for V8 and Td5. Mine has something written about the left hand / right hand thing of Diesel and Petrol engines as well. Good luck!

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On petrol it's a standard right hand thread, so you whack the top of the spanner from right to left to undo it. I'm not sure the viscous even needs to come off though, there's a fair amount of space between the front of the fan and the back of the radiator.

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If its the two large spanners, they do work on both engines to remove the whole thing, I've used mine on both. Though when it was used on the td5 I think the angle grinder had to come out to remove some damage where someone had previously attempted to remove it without the correct tool (looked like they had tried to use a chisel or an axe maybe by the amount of marks on the nut faces).

Think it may have also been used on a diesel p38 by my mate on his mate's P38, not 100% sure on that.

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The water pump was jammed solid so I was easily able to remove the fan with just a little touch of the nut with the 36mm spanner then it came undone with just my fingers. Now that the fan is off it looks much worse than I had thought. I have one on order that will be delivered in a couple of days so I will hold off reassembling everything until I have the new fan as it was easy to get off without the special tool as the water pump was seized but might not be so easy if I put it all back together again.

The water pump was seized because the bearings had failed & the impeller on the shaft had been gouging out the inside of the water pump & bending the impeller blades until one blade embedded itself in the body of the pump & wedged solid. That is when I imagine that the belt snapped. Inspecting the old belt it's actually in decent condition (apart from being snapped) with no obvious wear or cracking.

I have a new water pump arriving tomorrow so will be fitting it on. Then I will re-fit the new belt. It is actually much easier to fit the belt with the fan removed as I discovered after I had fitted the belt then removed it again when I found the water pump immovable. I see now why RAVE describes removing the fan first.

Actually fitting the belt was pretty easy once I used my secret weapon - an extra long (37cm) 15mm ring spanner - easily worth the €18.60 it cost from Amazon. With this I was able to easily apply enough force to the tensioner to make lifting the belt up onto the alternator fully easy. It also made it a single person job.

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It sounds like a good time for a coolant flush!

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Just to update. The parts arrived & it was a pretty straightforward job to put everything back together. I found that tightening up the left most bolt on the water pump (viewed from front) was only possible after I removed the idler pulley that was blocking the path of the socket wrench. It was much easier replacing the belt with the fan removed & I now appreciate why RAVE describes this step.

Removing the fan was easy as the water pump was seized & it just need a little loosening with a 36mm spanner then the big nut spun off easily with my fingers. Replacing the fan however was an absolute pain. It needs to be offered up at exactly the right angle to engage on the threaded shaft on the water pump. I took 10-15 minutes of fiddling about before I finally got the thread started then it was easy to spin the fan round & tighten up.

The first day when I took it apart I was wearing a T-shirt & ended up with extensive scratches on both forearms that still haven't healed. Learning from this I wore a long sleeved rugby shirt when putting it all back together thus protecting myself from the multiple hose clips & other sharp edges.

Speaking of hose clips. I struggled with using my Mole wrench to compress the clip on the hose attached to the water pump. I managed it eventually but this would have been so much easier with the correct tool which @Gilbertd tells me is https://www.amazon.co.uk/FAVENGO-Pliers-Flexible-Maintenance-Radiator/dp/B086QHZRVH/ I notice in the photos demonstrating use of this tool the mechanics are wearing protective leather gloves!

One irritating mistake I made was in replacing the plastic cover over the belt & pulleys at the top right (viewed from the front). It's held in with two bolts & there is a 3" spacer that the left hand bolt runs through. I managed to drop the spacer three times. The first two times it dropped clear through the engine compartment onto the ground where I recovered it but the third time it disappeared behind/under the alternator somewhere never to be seen again. The spacer is just a metal tube so should be easily replaced. I hadn't noticed that the two bolts holding the cover down are different lengths so I messed up the thread on the longer bolt by over tightening it as I had it in the place where the shorter bolt should be. The cover is secure & it's not touching the belt but none the less the fact that it's not right is annoying.

The radiator shroud needs replacement but the repair with gaffer tape will do for now.

I was well pleased when I started up the engine & all worked as expected. I had no problems at all with refilling the coolant. I had read of others who had issues with air locks so was concerned. I filled up with 50:50 OAT as per the instructions in RAVE ie run the engine with the cap off the header tank topping up as required then when the engine was up to temperature switching off & allowing the engine to cool down still with the cap then filling up once more.

I was particularly pleased with myself as this was the first proper work I have done on any car for over 30 years. When younger I did all sorts of work on Minis & Mk 1 Ford Escorts (engine replacements, head gaskets, brake callipers, bodywork etc) mostly because I didn't have the money to take the cars to a garage. As soon as I was earning enough money to pay a garage to do the work for me I figured it made more sense for me to spend my time earning money to pay a garage to do the job for me. This has been particularly the case as cars have got more & more complicated & difficult to work on without specialist equipment. The P38 might have some complicated electronics & the EAS is ingenious but they are still accessible & have rugged old fashioned mechanical components that mean the amateur mechanic still has a chance.

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Totally agree on the tool Richard recommended, I already had one from before I bought the P38 and the other car had some awkward to get to clamps. Makes it such much less hassle, than fiddling with pliers etc.

Hmm, I'd be checking for the metal spacer, you don't want that rolling out and into somewhere you don't want. If it was behind the alternator, has it managed to slip down and onto the valley gasket, under the intake manifold?

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I've struggled with those constant tension clips for years with Mole grips or pliers until there was a job I had to do on the other half's previous Merc. That involved a 150mm diameter clip that had to be taken off and there was no way I could do it with either of the above so dived off out to my local motor factors to see what they had. Bought the tool, did the job, have used it a couple of times on other cars and have since put it somewhere safe in the garage and have no idea where it is now. Had to resort to the Mole grips when changing Nigel's radiator. I'm sure I'll find it one day when looking for something totally different.......

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Handy is you never use them! 🤣