Timing Belt Tensioner Needs Replacement?

Hi:
I just brought my 99 Camry in for a timing belt replacement (car has 120,000 miles, but timing belt was replaced at 40,000 along with a
faulty water pump). I got a call in the middle of the day saying that the mechanics thought the tensioner also needed to be replaced. Not knowing anything about this, I agreed to the additional cost.
I have two questions: Is it normal to need to replace the tensioner? And, how can an amateur like myself check up on a need for a repair like this (I neglected to ask them to save the parts, but even if I had, I'd stare at an old tensioner and still have no idea whether, in fact, it needed replacing.
Thanks in advance,
Jon
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It's a good idea to replace the tensioner, idler, oil seals and tensioner spring in addition to the water pump when you get in there. You got a reasonable use out ofthese parts.
The tensioner should not have any slop in it or make any noise. It should turn smoothly. Regardless of recommendations of 60K, 90K, 120K, etc. I change all the parts at 60K miles, except the water pump every other timing belt (with coolant-50% distilled water change every 24 months).
Look at the recommendation from Gates: http://www.gates.com/brochure.cfm?brochure "56&location_id487
Jon wrote:

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Excellent advise. It is false economy to use the old parts. Like the FRAM commercials, pay me now or pay me later.
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Some tensioners last forever and some got at 40K miles. It's impossible to tell if you needed one at this point. When they get noisy, you definitely need one, but in your case who knows. Maybe it was noisy, you just did not notice it.
It would be nice to be told by the mechanics, if it was replaced due to failure, or because it's a good idea at this point. When you're told "you need one" - it's not clear why.
Rich
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