Tool Review: PBT Stretch Fit Belt Kit

May 3, 2013
A proven stretch belt installation tool gets high marks.

The PBT USA Stretch Fit Belt Kit, No. 70990, provides coverage for all vehicles equipped with stretch fit belts. This patented tool kit contains two tools: a universal installation tool and a universal removal tool. The installation tool suits all vehicles equipped with stretch fit belts and does not require adjustment to use. The removal tool allows the technician the ability to easily remove and reuse a stretch fit belt that doesn't require replacement. An instructional DVD is included in the kit, along with a vacuum-formed tray for easy storage of both tools.

The review

Alex Portillo, the shop foreman at Car Clinic, an auto repair facility in Mahopac, NY, has had a stretch belt tool for quite some time now.

"This tool looks identical to my other 'top-name brand' stretch belt tools," noted Portillo. "It even comes with the same instructional DVD. I think PBT makes it for them, it's a high-quality tool."

Stretch belts are a drive belt commonly found on newer Subarus and Mazdas that need special tools to be serviced. With common A/C compressor failures on Subarus, Portillo found that having the tool for an application like that justified having the tool.

"Stretch belts are on 2008-and-up Subaru Imprezas and Legacies, and Mazda 3s with 2.3Ls," Portillo said. "There is no way that I am aware of to remove a stretch belt on Subarus without the tool.

"On Mazdas, you really don't need the tool if you don't mind working too hard. You can remove the A/C compressor and manipulate its position without removing the lines in order to get the belt on and snug. You might need a second guy when doing this, so obviously the stretch belt tool is a lot better."

Portillo discussed the simplicity of how to use the tool for installation and removal of the belts. 

"There are two tools that say what they do. One removes the stretch belt and one installs. Removing a belt is easy," explained Portillo. "Just place the removal tool in front of the belt on the crankshaft pulley and spin the pulley clockwise and the belt will just slide off, for example. The directions are on the back of the box, it is a pretty simple procedure."

Portillo did have a suggestion on how to improve the tool. "I'd like to see the tool come with the special tool Subarus need," he said. "On some models, like Subarus, the belt company will send additional tools you will need that bolt into the bracket in order to hold the stretch belt remover in place while removing the belt. When you work on these Subarus, the stretch belt that spins the compressor is behind the alternator belt, so the tool will remove the alternator's belt, but you will need another special tool to remove the compressor's belt."

Portillo's verdict? "Nine out of ten," he said. "This is a tool that only serves me well and I'd recommend it to anybody."

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