If you are not a mechanically inclined person, you might not even know what a serpentine belt is (I know I didn’t before I had to change it.) Simply said, it is a belt that is crucial to keep your alternator, power steering, water pump, and air conditioning running. A belt that snaps is pretty bad but damaged or wholly destroyed engine is worse. That is why I am writing this article, to talk a bit about the serpentine belt, how to know it is time to fix it, and how to do it.

How long can a Serpentine Belt last?

That depends on the material of your belt; the old ones last for about 50,000 miles, the ones made out of EPDM (a fancy type of rubber) can last up to 100,000 miles. You can either search your car on google to see what your serpentine belt is made of or ask your mechanic. The mileage of the belt can vary though, if it has been exposed to friction or heat, it will need to be replaced.

Signs that show that your serpentine belt should be replaced

As it gets older, small parts of the rubber will peel off causing it to be fray, starch or even tear. Once you spot some of the signs that the belt is not in a top condition you should change it as soon as possible, otherwise, you might find yourself on the side of the road with a drained battery.

•    Chirping or squealing noises

This is probably the first sign you are going to notice if you are not consciously looking for it. As the belt wears out, it will start to stretch, this, in turn, will lead to squealing noises coming out from under the hood. Stretch belt will mean that the tension is not ideal and will start causing you troubles even if it does not break! It can also indicate that the belt and pulley are not working correctly together. Once you notice these sounds, it is wise to consult with a professional mechanic to prevent extreme malfunctions.

•    Cracks, cuts, and tears

OK, you heard some strange noises coming from under the hood, you check your belt and see cracks, missing chunks, uneven wear or damaged grooves. That is a pretty good sign your serpentine belt needs to be changed right away. When in doubt consult with your mechanics, but a good rule of thumb is, that if you can see ANY damage on the belt, you should change it.

•    Power steering or air conditioning failure

When the serpentine belt breaks, you will notice that the air conditioning and water pump will stop working. More importantly, your alternator and power steering will fail as well which can lead to a severe safety issue!

•    Car breaking down

If the serpentine belt breaks, you can still continue on driving, but after your battery drains, your car will stall, which is quite inconvenient and dangerous. The best thing to do about this is to have preventative maintenance checks with ASE-certified mechanics. It is an effective method to make sure that your belt will not suddenly break when you are driving on the road.

The engine light and the gauges can also warn you if there is something wrong with your belt. You must not ignore the warning signs mentioned above to prevent unfavorable situations in the future.

Now that you have learned about the warning, you might also like to know the advantage of serpentine belt replacement.

Benefits of replacing your serpentine belt

If you are driving with a worn-out serpentine belt, then you also risk the failure of other engine accessories. As the belt breaks or slips, the function of your car including power steering pump, and alternator will also stop functioning. A failing serpentine belt can damage any of the parts that it powers. The advantage of replacing a serpentine belt is that you can reduce the danger of your car breaking down and risk of the belt damaging some other parts of the vehicle. It helps you to have peace of mind and enjoy your car. If you want to drive safely and worry-free, then it is a wise move to replace your worn-out serpentine belt.  

Anything else I need to know about serpentine belts?

Commonly, serpentine belts in modern cars come with tensioning devices. Your serpentine belt can optimally perform only with the right tension. Belt tensioners provide the best amount of tension to keep the serpentine belt operating with the right speed and resistance. It is important to remember that when you replace your serpentine belt, you must also have the belt tensioner and pulleys checked

Do automobile have other belts?

Today’s cars only have one serpentine belt that controls many different systems of the vehicle. However, some older cars also have other belts. For example, some come with a series of V belts instead of the serpentine belt and some vehicles have a timing belt to drive oil and water to the engine and other essential parts.