Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

How Long Does a Serpentine/Drive Belt Last?

serpentine drive belt

In order to operate, your car needs more than just a working engine and transmission. The “accessories” attached to the engine aren’t really optional. For instance, you need the alternator to supply electricity to run the engine, your radio, the HVAC system and more. Your power steering pump provides steering assist to make maneuvering your car easier. The power for all of those things comes from the engine via the serpentine/drive belt.

Most cars today have a single belt, called a serpentine belt. In the past, two or even three belts were used. The serpentine belt connects all the accessories on the engine to the main drive pulley, which is turned by the engine. As the pulley turns, the belt moves. This turns the pulleys on the attached accessories, providing them with the power to operate.

The serpentine/drive belt on your car is a crucial consideration, and it should be inspected at every maintenance interval (every oil change). The belt is in use every single time you start your engine, and it is used for as long as the engine is running. As you can imagine, that puts a lot of wear and tear on the belt. With that being said most serpentine/drive belts can last for a very long time before they need to be replaced.

The lifespan of the belt will depend mostly on the type of material it’s made of. Older style belts generally last about 50,000 miles, while those made from EPDM can last up to 100,000 miles. The best option is to just ensure that your car receives regular maintenance and that the belt is inspected every time. If it breaks, you’ll find that your driving experience is more than a little bit changed. Without this belt, your power steering pump won’t work, your A/C system won’t work, and even your alternator won’t operate. That means you’ll be running on battery power until the engine drains it, and then you’ll be stuck on the side of the road.

While your belt should last for a very long time, there are a few signs of aging and wear that you should keep an eye out for to prevent yourself from being stranded. These include:

  • Squealing from under the hood (this can indicate a stretched belt)

  • Cracks in the belt

  • Nicks, cuts or tears in the belt

  • Missing grooves on the belt’s inner surface

  • Power steering assist doesn’t work (indicates a problem with the belt or the power steering system)

  • Battery light is on in the dash while the car is running

If you experience any of these symptoms, YourMechanic can help. Our mobile mechanics can come right to your home or office to inspect and replace a broken or worn serpentine/drive belt.

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

How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
P2422 OBD-II Trouble Code: Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP) Vent Valve Stuck Closed
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2422 P2422 code definition Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP) Vent Valve Stuck Closed Related Trouble Codes: P2441: EVAP Vent Valve Stuck Open EVAP trouble...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...

Related questions

Q: Very high pitch sound coming from engine it's not the belt I think it is a tensioner... any suggestions?

To try to isolate where the noise is coming from. I would use a long hose to listen to each pulley as close as I could to each pulley. If I still cannot isolate the noise would try a long...

Q: Is it Necessary to Replace the Tensioner With the Timing Belt?

Automatic belt tensioners usually have a visible tension range indicator on the tensioner. When you install a new belt, check the tension indicator to verify that the arrow on the tensioner arm is pointing to the range on the tensioner...

Q: Power steering issue with my car.

General motors vehicles such as your Impala are well known for having power steering issues. First, check the level of your power steering fluid. If it is low, there is a leak somewhere that needs to be addressed before proceeding...