Originally Posted by Pittsburger
What if you have just a idler pulley that free spins? Meaning if you rotate it, it spins without any resistance? It doesn't make that sand grainy sound. Is it still bad?
It means that the bearings aren't bad (making the sand grainy sound), but that the lubrication is not would it should be (spinning freeing), and it's only a matter of time, perhaps short, before the bearings will be shot.
I was in the same boat with mine, at 80K mls, and decided to replace them both with the belt. The chances are I won't have this car at 160K, when they'll need to be replaced again, so why risk them breaking the belt and leaving me stranded, and possible damage to my A/C compressor, which is on a lot in Phoenix (so more risk.)