That’s right, I Did It. After just over 3 weeks of my truck being down, it’s all good to go now. It’s starts up better than before and idles around 700 RPM instead of the 1500 RPM it was doing for the last two or three years. Oops did I let the cat out of the bag. I guess I did.

I hate to admit it but this truck has needed this repair since at least 2008. I wanted to get the repair done, but a repair of $800.00 to $1000.00 for something that didn’t prevent me from driving the vehicle just felt painful.

Perhaps you are like me when you go to a repair shop. I tell the technician the symptoms of the problem I’m having with the vehicle. I sign the consent form for the work and hand over the keys. Then the anxiety starts. Since I didn’t really know what was wrong with the car, now I’m worried that they are going to tell me that I need to come off of a few benjamins to get the repair done. That’s stressful. Even though this repair took longer than I wanted and cost a bit more in tools than I planned, not having that anxiety at the shop…priceless.

Let me tell you what happened after I heard that hissing sound coming from the front of the engine on the passenger side. I kept thinking that it sounded a little like a vacuum sound but had a metallic undertone to it. I’ve heard a vacuum sound before and their is nothing metallic or mechanical sounding in that at all. Not only is there this hissing sound, but the idle is real erratic and when I tried to drive it it cut off before I could get out of the driveway. I didn’t want to take a test drive for fear of getting stranded around the corner.

A couple days ago, I pull apart some of the previous work that I did and try to find if there is somewhere that a leak would be. Once I got most of the front passenger side valve cover, wire loom and saw nothing, I knew I was barking up the wrong tree. At the end of the day I sit at my computer and just stare at the screen trying to figure it out. It pops in my head why don’t I Google the exact problem with the car: 96 Chevy Vortec 5.7 with hissing sound coming from front passenger side of engine. As soon as I hit enter, all these sites come up discussing various problems with the belt tensioner. That is the spring loaded pulley in the engine bay that holds the serpentine belt taut and allows the serpentine belt to be removed when it is moved aside, releasing the tension. One site even talked about the suggested lifespan of this tensioner pulley to be 60,000 miles. Duhhhh. I’ve got 140,000 miles on my truck and wouldn’t be surprised at all if this is the original. I would have never thought of that, but it makes a lot of sense when I can hear the metallic tone in that hissing sound. Now I’m on a mission. I’m looking all over the internet trying to find confirmation about this. Oh Crap, it’s time to go to sleep, I have to work the next day. I decide to keep looking the next day and see what I can find. I’m getting excited that this may be a good lead.

The next day I find lots of confirming stories, but I’m not sure how to find out how to tell if my part is in fact busted. On one site, it suggest to rule out any other noise problems, to remove the serpentine belt and start the truck. Well I’ve never done that before, but I can imagine as long as I don’t do it for too long that shouldn’t be a problem. Since the belt is off, the alternator won’t charge the battery and the water pump won’t pump water through the engine or radiator. I decide to just do it for a few minutes but before that, I’ve got to put the previous days partial tear down back together. That takes about an hour and about 10:30pm on Wednesday October 26, when I should be getting ready for bed, I decide to start the truck. Fingers crossed, Vrooooom. Starts right up, no hissing, normal idle, near perfection. Vindication…I think. Now I’m real excited as I think I’ve found the problem. I rush up to the computer and start combing the Internet for this part and the idler pulley as well. I think it would be best to replace them both and not have to worry anymore.

As I’m looking I find that the Autozone about 2 miles from home has both parts in stock. Darn, it’s 11:00pm and all the stores are closed. I’ll have to wait until the next day after work. I’m getting real excited now. Maybe all this work will have a positive end. It’s been such a rollercoaster ride.

I go to sleep thinking about it. I wake up thinking about it. I tell myself that I’ve got to concentrate at work and be patient. That all sounds good, but I can’t wait. I took a couple hours off at the end of the day and head straight for the auto parts store. I get the parts and look at the belt tensioner. The pulley wheel, barely moves after spinning it with my hand. The one on my truck is completely free spinning. Did I tell you I’m getting excited! Maybe it is supposed to offer a bit of resistance and the one I have is doing nothing. I’m outta there like a bat outta hell, headed home.

After changing into my grimy “mechanics” clothes, I head out. As the Blues Brothers said, “I’m on a mission from GOD”. 🙂

Ready, Set, 1,2,wait for it, 3. Everything is installed and I put the key in the ignition and start it up. Purrrrrs like a kitten. I haven’t heard it sound like this since about 2007 or so. That’s too long, but I’m very happy. I drive it to a local dealership and get an oil change. That is one of the steps to changing the intake manifold gaskets, just in case I got some gunk in the engine and oil. It felt so great to drive it there under its own power and have it sound normal. Of course on the way home I get a car wash for the “Duke of Burgundy”. It needed it. I know it sounds corny but that’s my name for the truck, “The Duke of Burgundy.” It came from a William Shakespeare play that I like, The Tragedy of King Lear.

This was a tremendous experience and I am beyond pleased. I’ve enjoyed the entire process and had a great time.

Now on to the next projects: Exterior garage lights, water damage from the roof and a couple handles on the truck. Now that I’ve taken on such a big job there is no way I’m going to be rolling down my window to get out of the truck or using pliers to open the tailgate. I feel energized. Better put that to some use right?

Always Remember…You don’t have permission to Quit.

Jeffrey Washington


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