Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How Long Does a Power Steering Belt Last?

Power Steering Belt

Your car needs more than just the engine and transmission to operate. It needs the alternator to supply electricity while the engine’s running. You need the air conditioner to provide cool air during hot weather. You need a power steering pump to help make steering your car easier. All of these accessories need power, and that power is supplied by a belt (or belts in some cases).

Most cars today use a single belt, called a serpentine belt. Older cars often have two belts – a drive belt and an alternator belt. Your power steering belt is generally the serpentine or drive belt. Without this, the power steering pump doesn’t work and fluid cannot be sent through the lines to the steering rack.

The immediate upshot of not having an operational power steering pump is that it becomes much more difficult to turn the wheel. If you’ve ever driven a car without power steering, you know just how difficult it can be to steer, particularly at lower speeds.

Your car’s power steering belt (serpentine belt) is in use every time you crank the engine. It transmits power from the primary pulley on the engine to all of your accessories (power steering pump, alternator, etc.). As you can imagine, this belt is subjected to an incredible amount of wear and tear, as well as heat. There’s also the potential for impact from a broken component (which might cut the belt).

Most belts are designed to last between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. However, yours should be inspected at every single maintenance interval (every oil change). This ensures that you’re able to keep an eye on the belt’s condition and catch it before it fails. If you’re able to replace it before it breaks, you avoid the prospect of being stranded on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck. Your belt may also need to be tightened (manual tensioning systems) or the auto-tensioner might need to be inspected or maintained.

Knowing the signs to watch for that indicate your power steering belt is about to fail will help prevent you from being stranded. These include:

  • Squealing from under the hood after the engine starts (indicates a stretched belt)
  • Cracks on the belt
  • Cuts or nicks on the belt
  • Missing or damaged grooves on the belt
  • Glazing on the belt (appears shiny)

If you suspect your power steering belt is wearing to the point that it needs to be replaced, don't take chances. A certified mechanic can inspect the power steering belt and replace it if necessary.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Ask a Mechanic
(100% Free)

Have a car question? Get free advice from our top-rated mechanics.

Ask A Mechanic
Over 10,000 questions answered!

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.


Post a question and get free advice from our certified mechanics.


More related articles

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Flexible Clutch Hose
Common signs include difficulty shifting, low clutch fluid, and feeling no resistance at the clutch pedal.
P0121 OBD-II Trouble Code: TPS "A" Circuit Range Performance Problem
P0121 code definition Throttle Pedal Position Sensor/Switch (TPS) A Circuit Range Performance Problem What the P0121 code means P0121 is a generic OBD-II code which indicates that the Engine Control...
How to Buy Fuel Treatments
Adding a fuel additive to your gas tank when you fill up is one way to clean vital engine parts of deposits, improve the performance of your engine,...

Related questions

Q: It is hard to turn the wheels when stopped/ moving slowly.

You may have a power steering pump that is low on pressure and cannot produce enough pressure at low speeds to turn easily. Have the power steering pressures checked by a mechanic to be at or above about 700psi....

Q: Noise under the driver's seat

First off, the first side of the car dropping down indicates a problem with the air suspension - most likely a failed air strut. As far as the noise goes, if it goes away with the belt off, the noise...

Q: How do I tell if my power steering is going bad in my 2005 BMW x3?

Hi, thanks for writing in. Unfortunately, it sounds like your steering rack is done for, and needs to be replaced. This appears to be a wide-spread problem with this vehicle, without a recall or customer satisfaction program from BMW. If...