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Maybe there's a buildup of belt dust on the slide mechanism. Throw on some eye protection, close your mouth and have at it with your air hose.
I made a cheater bar for my DP. I stole this idea from somewhere, forget where right now. What I did was take a 1" dowel about 6" long and drilled about a 3" deep hole down the middle slightly larger in diameter than the tension handle of my DP. When I slide this over the tension handle its amazing how much easier it is to tension and detension the belts. Give it a try.
~~Don't worry about old age; it doesn't last that long.