2013~2016 Belt Tensioner - Shouldn't this be a warranty item?

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16.5 CX-5 Tour/AWD
Does the new one feel stiffer when you work the cylinder back and forth compared to the leaky one?

Does it seem to have a better seal?

I recall that the OEM one seemed to be more stiff when rocking it back and forth. The aftermarket one seems to be smoother overall but will that translate to better performance? I have no idea...

As for the better seal, the OEM one seemed to be sealed in place very well. When I pried open the rubber boot using my fingers, I did not see any dirt or anything underneath. I don't plan to open up the new OEM tensioner since I'm afraid I'll spill some of the fluid.
 
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16.5 CX-5 Tour/AWD
Appreciate the report Digbicks. The good news is you know how to change the tensioner. The bad news is not having good experience with the Gates tensioner.

I have no idea what type of fluid they put in there. My guess is hydraulic fluid?

Thank you! It is definitely a new skill I picked up over the past month and I'm new to all of this as well.

I seem to be the only one having issues with the Gate tensioner so far in terms of the performance and I'm not sure if it's because there's not enough people using the Gates tensioner to give more feedback.

The best way I can compare the old OEM tensioner is like that of a brake booster. The brake booster does most of the work by providing extra input from the brake pedal and after replacing the OEM tensioner, it seems like I have no brake booster anymore and need to exert 30-40% more force to have the kickdown switch activate.

That's the question I want to know as well and it would've saved me $40-50 had I not spill the fluid and I'm sure most of us wouldn't even bother replacing the tensioner if we could top off the fluid every 2-4 years :D
 
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16.5 CX-5 Tour/AWD
OMG, THE POWER IS BACK TO NORMAL AGAIN GUYS!!:D:D:D:D

I took out the crappy GATES one and there was fluid leaking out of it. I don't care at this point anymore but I installed the INA one and went for a test drive on the highway and the power is definitely back for sure. I don't have to press down until I hear a click anymore, it's literally back to normal where I would step on the pedal 50-60% and it automatically goes into a high rev/downshifts unlike the Gates one where it would slowly/gradually build up speed.

Also, this time, I only removed the splash shield cover and I did not disassemble the entire wheel well splash shield and outer fender like last time. I can definitely see why people would have trouble trying to access the serpentine belt and performing the replacement, you are losing at least 20-40% of the view on your right hand side where the other pulleys are and you have a piece of plastic in your face. It's doable, but I had to use my hand to feel if the serpentine belt was lining up with the A/C Compressor pulley grooves. Very annoying, but I did it when it was getting dark so it was hard to see.

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I would highly recommend anyone replacing this to either buy the INA one on RockAuto or get the OEM INA one from Mazda and to skip the GATES one completely.

When I was doing my research on "belt tensioners," I couldn't really find much information on whether or not a different brand would make a huge difference/performance impact but now I know after owning (3). If you go on Google, this is really the only thing that it says:

A tensioner maintains the correct amount of tension on the belt at all times throughout its duty cycle. It also helps protect other components such as the alternator and water pump from undue stress and premature failure. In addition, a tensioner is a relatively inexpensive part to replace.

This diagram below illustrates how I feel using both. It's not supposed to be 100% accurate but it gives you an idea at the very least:
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I did not disconnect my battery this time prior to yesterdays spark plug change. It has been as-is so this is a direct comparison between two belt tensioners. I'm really trying to think of some theories of why the vehicles characteristics feel so different after the belt tensioner change.

Could it be related to:
  1. The type of fluid being used as a lubricant inside?
  2. The rubber boot material that's different? The GATES one looks much more durable and more stiff looking compared to the INA one which is a very soft/supple rubber. I'm thinking that this is a very likely possibility.
I know that OEM hardware are typically tuned to work the best with our vehicle and using aftermarket parts may make a difference but I just can't wrap my head around this belt tensioner.

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yrwei52

2016 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD w/Tech Pkg
Contributor
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Plano, Texas, USA
OMG, THE POWER IS BACK TO NORMAL AGAIN GUYS!!:D:D:D:D
Seriously??? (y)

Hard to understand though ⋯

This may prove using the genuine or “OEM” brand, in this case it’s INA, parts are better than using after-market parts. And that’s why I always use OEM parts including oil filter. The only exception for me is cabin filter.:oops:
 
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16.5 CX-5 Tour/AWD
Seriously??? (y)

Hard to understand though ⋯

This may prove using the genuine or “OEM” brand, in this case it’s INA, parts are better than using after-market parts. And that’s why I always use OEM parts including oil filter. The only exception for me is cabin filter.:oops:

Yeah, I am not kidding haha. You guys are free to buy both to test it out as well. I have people I know sit inside my car and they agreed with me that there is a big difference and they were there with the new tensioner and afterwards with the new one I installed today. The power is definitely there and finding the sweet spot for the pedal activation switch is exactly what I was looking forward to. It's that gradual transition that the GATES lacked and it felt like it was struggling.

For the past 2-4 fill ups, I did notice that my mileage was worse than usual, as in I would only get 220-250 miles out of each tank before I had to fill up and for the OEM tensioner, I would typically get at least 260-280 lowest even if I didn't try to be conservative. I know one member mentioned something about the tension being too tight and affecting the MPG but I didn't observe as closely at the time.
 
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Pueblo county CO
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CX-5 Sport 16.5 6M
Well, if the Gates tensioner worsened the performance" could there be another brand that improves it beyond the OEM "ina"brand tensioner?
 
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16.5 CX-5 Tour/AWD
Well, if the Gates tensioner worsened the performance" could there be another brand that improves it beyond the OEM "ina"brand tensioner?
Very good question. I actually went through most of the major auto parts sites and they look more or less identical. It seems like most of the belt tensioners follow (3) design types but see a list below I put together for reference. As for me, I don't plan to buy any more belt tensioners but I hope someone else would be willing to haha.
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2014 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD w/Tech
I know everyone's experiences can be different and YMMV, but I feel that I must add my experience to this post in the interest of balance.

I did replace my original tensioner, which was leaking slightly, with the Gates tensioner at 81K miles.
There is no difference in the engine power/performance/kickdown of my CX-5 with the Gates tensioner.
There is no difference in the gas mileage of my CX-5 with the Gates tensioner.
There is no difference in the engine noise level of my CX-5 with the Gates tensioner.
The Gates tensioner, installed for 6 weeks now, has absolutely not leaked any fluid.
In addition, the hard plastic cap on the Gates tensioner fluid reservoir versus the rubber cap on the INA/OEM Mazda tensioner fluid reservoir, is (in my opinion) a better choice of materials for a longer life. I have no hesitation at all to recommend the Gates tensioner to anyone looking for a replacement.
 

yrwei52

2016 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD w/Tech Pkg
Contributor
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Plano, Texas, USA

I took out the crappy GATES one and there was fluid leaking out of it. I don't care at this point anymore but I installed the INA one and went for a test drive on the highway and the power is definitely back for sure.
Can you elaborate this about the leaking new Gate tensioner? The damper is totally sealed and I don’t believe it has anything to pry open like OEM / INA tensioner with a rubber cap seal?

Gate tensioner has lifetime warranty so may be you can get a refund on this? ;)

I remember the price on OE INA belt tensioner was one of the lowest among many listed on RockAuto website for Mazda CX-5. It seemed always out of stock whenever I checked. But for some reason OE INA tensioner you just got is no longer listed for Mazda CX-5 on RockAuto website anymore.
 
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16.5 CX-5 Tour/AWD
Can you elaborate this about the leaking new Gate tensioner? The damper is totally sealed and I don’t believe it has anything to pry open like OEM / INA tensioner with a rubber cap seal?

Gate tensioner has lifetime warranty so may be you can get a refund on this? ;)

I remember the price on OE INA belt tensioner was one of the lowest among many listed on RockAuto website for Mazda CX-5. It seemed always out of stock whenever I checked. But for some reason OE INA tensioner you just got is no longer listed for Mazda CX-5 on RockAuto website anymore.
To give a little more context, I was performing the belt tensioner swap when it was about to get dark and when I was taking out the GATES tensioner from the top of the engine bay area, I noticed my gloves started to have a oily liquid substance on it. Then upon looking at the tensioner itself, I noticed that there was fluid leaking from the bottom of the hard plastic boot. I did not take any pictures because it was already getting dark and I still had to bleed the new belt tensioner and then install the belt back on but for illustration purposes, the leak was coming from the red circle.

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Also, I would love to get a refund but I think most of the warranties typically provide you a replacement or repair (aka I ship using my own money). Gates Limited Lifetime Warranty

Limited Warranty​

Goods are warranted to be free from defects in material or workmanship for the life of the Goods (or the published recommended replacement interval specified by Gates). Gates will replace or repair, at its option, any Goods proved defective in material or workmanship during the warranty period. This is the sole remedy for breach of warranty. Color fade and color difference is not warranted. This warranty is void if the defect is caused by improper installation, use or maintenance of the Goods, or used for racing or competition. Goods are not warranted to comply with laws that may apply to uses of the Goods not stated in related materials, e.g., use in manned or unmanned aviation or life support applications. ALL OTHER WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE, ARE EXPRESSLY DISCLAIMED. FAILURE TO REPLACE TIMING BELTS OR OTHER GATES PRODUCTS AS SPECIFIED MAY RESULT IN CATASTROPHIC ENGINE OR EQUIPMENT DAMAGE, FOR WHICH GATES DISCLAIMS ALL RESPONSIBILITY, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think most belt tensioners leak/vent out fluid over time and there's no way to fully "seal" it. If it was fully sealed, I don't think that the damper would work at all as it would not be able to compress.

The OE tensioner on RockAuto is definitely the cheapest out of the bunch aside from the "Economy" versions that are listed. By the time I noticed it was there and announced it in one of my earlier posts, they said it would arrive by December or something but somehow it shipped out even earlier than December so I was very surprised. You still have other alternatives though, such as Summit Racing but their ship date is in December also. Then there's AAP charging $87 for it...

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yrwei52

2016 Mazda CX-5 GT AWD w/Tech Pkg
Contributor
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Plano, Texas, USA
⋯ Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think most belt tensioners leak/vent out fluid over time and there's no way to fully "seal" it. If it was fully sealed, I don't think that the damper would work at all as it would not be able to compress.
I always think the damper on belt tensioner is just like a mini shock absorber. It’s sealed with piston、bypass valves、and hydraulic oil inside. It’s not supposed to leak until the seal is worn out.

I’m not in the hurry to replace my leaky belt tensioner yet until the weather is warmer. And I usually get OEM parts from my Mazda dealer and they should have the tensioner in stock most of time when I need it.

This reminds me I need to register the failing belt tensioner at NHTSA website and hopefully the issue would become a recall with enough complaints like the LED DRLs.
 
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16.5 CX-5 Tour/AWD
I always think the damper on belt tensioner is just like a mini shock absorber. It’s sealed with piston、bypass valves、and hydraulic oil inside. It’s not supposed to leak until the seal is worn out.

I’m not in the hurry to replace my leaky belt tensioner yet until the weather is warmer. And I usually get OEM parts from my Mazda dealer and they should have the tensioner in stock most of time when I need it.

This reminds me I need to register the failing belt tensioner at NHTSA website and hopefully the issue would become a recall with enough complaints like the LED DRLs.
The reason why I brought that up was because in the listings for some of the belt tensioners, they mentioned about "minimal grease loss" such as the INA one that sold out. This makes me believe that the fluid over time will eventually seep/weep but not to the point of rendering the tensioner useless but like any wear item, it'll eventually run out of the lubrication required to operate the component.
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Not a rush at all. I kind of regret changing mine now that I think about it. I don't really notice significant leakage or leaks at all. I just did mine because it was being mentioned by everyone on this thread and I wanted to play it safe hehe

Good choice though, hopefully they start a recall process. The more people that submit the better :)
 
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2017 Mazda CX-5 GS
did not disconnect my battery this time prior to yesterdays spark plug change. It has been as-is so this is a direct comparison between two belt tensioners. I'm really trying to think of some theories of why the vehicles characteristics feel so different after the belt tensioner change.
Ok, wait, are you saying that you replaced the plugs at the same time that you replaced the tensioner? You mention not disconnecting the battery for “yesterday's plug change” in the same thread as putting in the INA tensioner, but attribute the better performance to the tensioner. I'm confused.
 
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16.5 CX-5 Tour/AWD
Ok, wait, are you saying that you replaced the plugs at the same time that you replaced the tensioner? You mention not disconnecting the battery for “yesterday's plug change” in the same thread as putting in the INA tensioner, but attribute the better performance to the tensioner. I'm confused.
Timeframe:
  • 11/28: I replaced the plugs + disconnected the battery as I did not want to cause a short.
  • 11/29: I replaced the GATES tensioner with the INA one from RockAuto. Battery was not disconnected.

My experience:
  • Spark plug replacement yielded a slightly noticeable increase in the acceleration; engine felt slightly louder. This could be attributable to the fact that the spark plugs condition is NEW and that's why I felt the difference.
  • Replacing the GATES tensioner with the INA one solved my problem with the pedal kickdown switch. With the OEM tensioner, I did not have this issue where I had to literally press my foot all the way down to the floor and then apply 30-40% more pressure to hear a "click" in order for the car to downshift/accelerate quicker at highway speeds.
Hopefully this clears up your confusion.
 
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2017 Mazda CX-5 GS
Thank you. Has anyone figured out how the belt tensioner would affect the kick down switch? I am fairly new to the world of newer cars with all of this interconnected electronic wizardry. I’d love to know how that works. I didn’t even know there was a kick down switch until I read this thread. I have a lot to learn, and I’m really enjoying reading through this forum.
 
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13' CX-5 and 16' Mazda6 both Touring w/Tech/Bose
I would call Rock Auto and complain the part not fitting correctly/not performing.

Looks like the Gates tensioner is off my list.
 
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