Two new belts, two new tensioners, one old noise

About a year and a half ago, we got the most amazing deal on a 2001 Chevrolet Suburban 1500 that had been well maintained and rolled up on relatively new tires. It had close to 350,000 miles on it, but it amazingly ran better than our much newer minivan.

Right now the “truck”, as we call it, is making a weird noise. That noise started just before the A/C went out, then it stopped making the noise. With a bit of help from a mechanic friend, I saw that the A/C belt had snapped, so I got a new one for about $15 and replaced it. Then the noise came back.

This noise sounds like something is rubbing something else the wrong way, like rubbing a cat backward. Then it makes a weird, squealing jackhammer sound. You know the one. Rev it up, and the sound gets worse.

Must be the main belt, I thought. Could be the tensioner, my mechanic friend texted me. I’d start with the belt, because it was showing signs of wear, anyway.

Twenty dollars later, and our truck has two new belts and the same old sound.

Maybe it’s the tensioner.

Thirty-five dollars later, and our truck has a new main belt tensioner and the same old sound.

And then it occurred to me: Maybe my mechanic friend meant the A/C belt tensioner.

Thirty dollars later (we’re up to 100 now), and our truck has two new belts and two new tensioners. “Is it making the same old sound?” you wonder. Well, not exactly. It is still making a sound, though. It’s just not as loud as it was.

We talk a lot to our kids about being content. We read Scripture to them about having a good attitude and rejoicing even in the hard times. Those devotionals don’t normally take place in our garage, at least not when I’ve got my head shoved up under vehicle.

It’s clearly a humility thing for me. Even though I’m not a mechanic*, I expect my ideas to pan out right away. That little A/C belt should have fixed everything. But no.

It’s not the expense that bothers me. I’m not sure we’ve spent the equivalent of one car payment on replacement parts for the truck yet since we’ve owned it, and all of the repairs so far have been done here at the house.** What bothers me is not being able to just figure out immediately how to solve the problem. That noise is kind of annoying as well.

I try to look at the sunny side of the situation. At least now we have two new belts. At least we won’t need new tensioners on that Suburban until about the Year 2035 or 700K miles, whichever comes first.

And at least we don’t have a car payment.

The other knock to my ego is having to accelerate slowly when driving the truck. Do they think I’m a slow driver? Do they really think I couldn’t outpace them from the green light? Just wait until I get this… whatever… fixed, and I’ll reestablish my local street cred.

For now, I’m driving like I don’t want to tip over a wedding cake in the back.

The funny thing is that, even though I review brand-new cars every few weeks or so, I am still not tempted to take on a car payment. I am blessed with a wife who isn’t overly materialistic, and our kids aren’t in the too-cool phase just yet, so as long as the A/C blows cold and the vehicles remain relatively quiet, we’re all happy.

At least we don’t have a car payment.

*When the author says he is not a mechanic, what is meant here is that he probably shouldn’t be allowed to do more than put fuel in a car, and even that activity should be supervised by a mechanic.

**The author would rather say “all of the repairs so far have been done by me here at the house”, but in truth, his mechanic friend has put hands on the truck more than once.

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