Let’s talk about the Serpentine Belt. Sounds scary by name alone and thus a very important part of any vehicle. Here’s what you need to know about it and how to recognize if replacement is necessary.

What’s a Serpentine Belt Anyway?

  • A serpentine belt (also called a multi-groove or ribbed belt) is the part that can drive multiple engine accessories such as:
  • Air Conditioner Compressor
  • Alternator
  • Power Steering Pump
  • Water PumpAir Pump

The tensioner is used to keep the belt tight. Generally, the tension adjusts automatically, however, it can be manually set on some applications.

Why is a Serpentine Belt Important?

This belt has a vital job. If the serpentine belt quits working, the alternator will quit charging, the steering will be harder, and you may experience overheating. The air conditioning system relies on this important part too.

A broken serpentine belt is one of the quickest ways to wind up stranded when traveling. At best, a broken belt can cause you to lose battery power and need recharging, while if the worst-case scenario occurs, you could find yourself experiencing catastrophic engine damage.

How do you know Serpentine Belt Replacement is Necessary?

Oftentimes a worn serpentine belt will have cracks and signs of overall excessive wear.

Other replacement signs include:

  • Complete Breakage – This happens when general wear occurs past the point when the belt should be repaired. Breakage can also be the result of a failed pulley.
  • A Noisy Belt – If the belt is making more noise than normal, it can be a sign that the belt should be replaced.
  • Contamination – If another part of the vehicle leaks onto the belt, it should be replaced to avoid further weakening and failure.

There is a lot to think about when you are trying to determine if a serpentine belt needs to be replaced. The key is to pay attention to the condition of the cooling system overall and jump on any minor problems before they turn into something bigger. This proactive outlook can prevent catastrophic engine failure.