A serpentine belt is prone to wear and fail just like any other part in your vehicle. Driven by the crankshaft pulley, this belt runs the water pump, alternator, air conditioning compressor and power steering pump. Identifying, fixing and preventing the most common problems with serpentine belts is possible.
Serpentine belts have some common problems that you should pay attention to as you make a routine inspection. Make sure the belt is properly seated on each pulley and look for signs of wear, such as excessive cracks on the ribs and fraying. Also, check for cuts, splitting and missing sections of ribs. If you find any of these signs, replace the belt.
Check the pulleys if your serpentine belt is showing excessive or abnormal wear. Remove the belt and, laying a straightedge across the surface of any two pulleys, turn them by hand and check for misalignment. Each pulley should contact the straightedge at all times as you turn them. Check the rest of the pulleys in pairs. Then check them for cracks, rust, dents or any other physical damage. Replace them if necessary.
Always disconnect the ground (black battery cable) when inspecting, adjusting or replacing the serpentine belt. Even with the ignition switch in the "off" position, if the vehicle has been recently driven, the electric fan might come on and catch your arms and hands as you work in the engine compartment area.
Serpentine belts require minimum attention, but vehicle manufacturers recommend inspecting serpentine belts every 3,000 miles. This will help correct common problems on time and extend belt service life.
When replacing your serpentine belt, compare the new one with the old one. Be sure they have the same design configuration, width and number of ribs. However, the new belt should be slightly shorter.
- Modern Automotive Technology; James E. Duffy; 2003
- Photo Credit FixEuro.com/Picasaweb.google.com
Symptoms of a Bad Serpentine Belt
Serpentine belts perform a score of important functions. That was actually one of the arguments used against them when they first debuted....
Cadillac Deville Serpentine Belt Problems
Cadillac first began manufacturing its bespoke Deville model in 1949, and in 1994, mated its newest generation platform to GM's newest super-motor,...
Symptoms of a Worn Drive Belt
Drive belts provide locomotion for the various pumps and accessories under the hood that keep your car running. For this reason, you...
Why Do Serpentine Belts Squeak?
A noisy serpentine belt can be annoying. There are several reasons why a belt may squeak. It could mean nothing, but it...
Difference Between Timing Belt & Serpentine Belt
Some people use the terms "timing belt" and "serpentine belt" interchangeably. However, these two engine components have entirely different functions. Both play...
How to Replace the Serpentine Belt in a Plymouth Voyager
Almost all vehicles on the road today have a main drive belt that runs different parts and accessories in the vehicle. The...
How to Replace the Serpentine Belt on a 1998 Oldsmobile
Most four-cylinder and six-cylinder engines used in the 1998 Oldsmobile lineup feature serpentine belts. These are one-piece belts that run the alternator,...
Types of Serpentine Belt Wear
There are different types of wear on serpentine belts in your car engine. Learn all about it in this free auto repair...
How to Replace Worn Alternator Brushes
Worn out alternator brushes are the most common reason an alternator fails or breaks down. Learn how to replace the alternator brushes...