Your AC belt connects the crankshaft of your car’s engine to the air conditioning unit, delivering cool air to you in hot weather, and also working to defrost your windows when the temperature drops.
Depending on the type of vehicle you own, your AC may be driven by a single serpentine belt that drives all of your car’s components, or your AC may have a separate belt. If your vehicle has a separate AC belt, and it fails, then your air conditioning will not work. If it is governed by a serpentine belt, then loss of air conditioning will be just one symptom – many components will fail, and your car may not even run.
Typically, car belts last between 30,000 and 40,000 miles, or about three years, depending on how much you drive and whether the belts are exposed to contaminants. The life of your AC belt will also depend on how frequently you use your air conditioning and your defroster.
Signs that your AC belt needs to be replaced include:
- Cracks, fraying, stretching or wearing in the belt
- Squealing when you turn on the air conditioning
- Defroster not working in cold weather
- Not enough cool air in hot weather
If you live in a warm climate, and you are comfortable simply rolling down the windows in hot weather, you can get by without replacing the AC belt. If you drive in cold weather, though, you will need your defroster. If you suspect that your AC belt needs to be replaced, a mechanic can check it out for you, and if necessary, replace the AC belt.