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Old 03-21-2019, 06:34 PM   #1
NathanP
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Hydraulic tensioner vs. spring tensioner

I have a pulley kit for my 04 e46 but it comes with a manual (spring loaded) tensioner and now I see that I have a hydraulic tensioner. Only the pulley is bad and I know I should keep the hydraulic one long term but would like to get it running for now can I:

a) just swap the hydraulic for the new manual for now (somewhere I got the idea that a conversion kit was necessary) or

b) pull the new pulley off the the manual tensioner and put it on the hydraulic? Problem with this is that although the pulley comes right off the hydraulic one, the pulley on the new manual one is attached with some of type of security screw. I could probably get it off but I usually take the presence of security screws to be saying: "Are you *really* sure you want to take this off?" In other words it might mess it up or not work correctly even if I did that.

What do?
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Old 03-21-2019, 06:44 PM   #2
TerraPhantm
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A is doable. B is not (the pulleys are different).
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Old 03-21-2019, 07:26 PM   #3
Sapote
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Originally Posted by NathanP View Post
the pulley on the new manual one is attached with some of type of security screw. I could probably get it off but I usually take the presence of security screws to be saying: "Are you *really* sure you want to take this off?" In other words it might mess it up or not work correctly even if I did that.
What do?
What do you mean security screw? All I have seen is just a normal Torx bolt, and it can be removed.

I would swap the pulleys and use the hydraulic unit if the swapped pulley not interfere with anything and their bearing inside dia are the same.
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Old 03-21-2019, 07:31 PM   #4
NathanP
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What do you mean security screw? All I have seen is just a normal Torx bolt, and it can be removed.

I would swap the pulleys and use the hydraulic unit if the swapped pulley not interfere with anything and their bearing inside dia are the same.
THe original hydraulic unit has the Torx but the new one has some other kind of security screw under that. It isn't a Torx or something most people would probably have the exact tool for. I could probably force it with an Allen wrench but it wouldn't be an exact match. I'm not sure what to call it, definitely not a Torx but not really an Allen either.
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Old 03-21-2019, 07:38 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by NathanP View Post
THe original hydraulic unit has the Torx but the new one has some other kind of security screw under that. It isn't a Torx or something most people would probably have the exact tool for. I could probably force it with an Allen wrench but it wouldn't be an exact match. I'm not sure what to call it, definitely not a Torx but not really an Allen either.
Pic worth thousands words
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Old 03-21-2019, 08:04 PM   #6
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Pic worth thousands words
Here are the two side by side. The old one has an Allen it looks like maybe the new one is a Torx, but a bigger one than I have a tool for.

I was watching because that guy is swapping out a hydraulic for a manual tensioner but I'm not having success: i.e. casing would set what seems a bit too close to the crank, bolts that I have don't work exactly etc.

So I think I'll probably just see if I can pick up a pully to repair the hydraulic one if I can. Which will probably make for a better job anyway. About to head out and check on one here in a minute.

Plus it will give me an excuse to pick up a T50 which is what I apparently need to get the AC tensioner pully off anyway.
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Old 03-22-2019, 07:01 AM   #7
tttomttt
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The pully for the hydraulic tensioner should be readily available to you at most auto parts stores. Just try and get a reputable name for the pulley.
There is definitely a conversion kit to convert from the spring tensioner to the hydraulic tensioner. On my 05 530i 3.0 I decided to keep the spring tensioner setup as I found it easier to release the tension for the belt change.
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Old 03-22-2019, 07:17 AM   #8
RayPooley
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NathanP View Post
I have a pulley kit for my 04 e46 but it comes with a manual (spring loaded) tensioner and now I see that I have a hydraulic tensioner. Only the pulley is bad and I know I should keep the hydraulic one long term but would like to get it running for now can I:

a) just swap the hydraulic for the new manual for now (somewhere I got the idea that a conversion kit was necessary) or

b) pull the new pulley off the the manual tensioner and put it on the hydraulic? Problem with this is that although the pulley comes right off the hydraulic one, the pulley on the new manual one is attached with some of type of security screw. I could probably get it off but I usually take the presence of security screws to be saying: "Are you *really* sure you want to take this off?" In other words it might mess it up or not work correctly even if I did that.

What do?
Nothing wrong with the spring tensioners. Just fit it.

BTW. They are both "automatic" tensioners in the sense that they are self adjusting. You don't have to "manually" adjust anything.

Last edited by RayPooley; 03-22-2019 at 07:21 AM.
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Old 03-22-2019, 01:51 PM   #9
Sapote
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Hydraulic tensioners cost more than the simple spring tensioners for a reason: less load on all bearings: water pump , alternator, sp, and the pulley bearing.
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