Pulley alignment

I have an intermittent noise in my wife's 2007 Ford Escape. I am looking for an easy and accurate way to check pulley alignment on the serpentine belt system. (Preferably without purchasing an expensive tool).
I have read about garages using lasers to check them. (Of course it is an expensive tool that has to be purchased.)
Could a person somehow use a simple laser pointer? The other problem is the tight quarters, it is a sideways front wheel drive four cylinder, so it is hard to get to.
The noise is a kind of rattle/squeal that is pronounced when the ac is on. I put a new belt on it sometime agao and the problem went away. However it came back.
Visually I cant really tell that the belt is running untrue but again it is hard to look at.
Spinning everything by hand there does not seem to be excessive play. I sis note I could hear the alternator when I spun it by hand. I am not sure if this is normal or not.
As always I appreciate it!
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On 07-Apr-14 8:18 PM, stryped wrote:

Alternator bearings or idler pulley bearings are u/s
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You're not really thinking this out, Stryped. Everything in a serpentine system is rigidly mounted. There are no adjustments for lateral alignment. Belt tension is provided by a spring- loaded tensioner.
The tensioner bearing is the most common problem, and they're cheap to replace, but a mother-bitch to get to in some of the compacts.
The Mazda AC compressors have the same basic defect as the Mitusbishi ones. The front of the pulley is vented, and the vents are so large that there are only three little 5mm tabs of steel holding the entire pulley to its spline hub. With time, they flex JUST enough to crack. Eventually, if that happens, the pulley will let go of the hub. It won't fly off, but it will create a terrific racket and possibly break your belt.
If one or more tabs are cracked, you can see that as a wobble in the pulley, whether the AC is on or not.
And you never said whether or not the AC is working properly. You could have a plugged system deadheading compressor pressure, and causing the belt slippage.
Still the idler is most suspect, then probably the AC clutch/pulley, followed by the alternator bearings.
LLoyd
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On Monday, April 7, 2014 7:59:03 AM UTC-5, Lloyd E. Sponenburgh wrote:

I replaced the tensioner and idler pully this weekend. Did not help.
I did note that I am getting vibration on one of the lines going to the pow er steering pump. The pulley seems to spin freely and has no play, but when I looked into the reservoir, the fluid was gray to black! I emptied the re servoir, cleaned it, and put in new fluid. This morning it had gray in it s till, but was not nearly as bad. I can feel a slight vibration at idle in t he steering wheel and can hear a faint wine at idle. It all goes away once I take off down the road....
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And the belt? Please tell me you didn't cheap-out and only replace the tensioner?
Lloyd
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On Monday, April 7, 2014 7:59:03 AM UTC-5, Lloyd E. Sponenburgh wrote:

When my wife goes through a drive through by the way she has to cut the air off to make the racket from the belt or whatever stop. Only seems to happen in gear with the ac on and stopped or nearly stopped....

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On Mon, 07 Apr 2014 07:59:03 -0500, "Lloyd E. Sponenburgh"

-------- ------- Oxymoron Alert!
--
No greater wrong can ever be done than to put a good man at the mercy
of a bad, while telling him not to defend himself or his fellows;
  Click to see the full signature.
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It is more likely a bad clutch on the air conditioning pump than a misaligned belt. A simple square across a pulley face should allow you to see any alignment problem so bad as to cause a problem. It is also possible an old and badly worn belt is simply slipping under the increased load of the air conditioning compresser causing a squeaking noise, but I doubt it would cause a rattling noise.
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On Monday, April 7, 2014 12:16:34 PM UTC-5, Bob La Londe wrote:

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I did replace the belt several months ago when this started happening. And it seemed to fix the problem. But, then the noise came back. Maybe not as b ad but did come back. The area is so tight not sure if I could get a square in there.
My thought was since it went away after replacing the belt that a possible misaligned pulley is doing damage to the belt. I will say when I replaced t he tensioner and idler this past weekend, at first the belt looked ok, but after putting it back on, I noticed in the sunlight it looked like fine hai r or something was fraying off the side of the belt. I am not 100 prevent s ure on that. Visually looking at it while running the belt seemed to track straight. However when I turn the ac on, the tensioner starts vibrating vis ually a lot...
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wrote:

Don't put on a cheap belt. Get a Gatorback. About the only thing that will stay quiet on an escape/trubute for more than 3 months.
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wrote:

Escapes and just about all Mazdas have a bad habit of producing a lot of belt squeel. Get a Gatorback belt and it will go away. Plan on replacing annually
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