Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Serpentine/Drive Belt

serpentine/drive belt

The serpentine belt, also known as the drive belt, works with the idler, tensioner, and pulleys inside the accessory drive belt system. It provides power for the air conditioning, alternator, power steering, and sometimes the cooling system water pump design. The serpentine belt is a critical part of this system, and once the engine is running, it continues to operate until the vehicle is shut off. Without the serpentine belt, the vehicle may not run at all.

As a general rule, the serpentine belt lasts up to 50,000 miles or five years before they need to be replaced. Some can even last for up to 80,000 miles without any problems, but consult the owner's manual for exact service interval. Yet, over time, the serpentine belt will fail because of the heat and friction it is subjected to every day, and have to be replaced. If you suspect your serpentine belt is failing, watch for the following symptoms:

1. Squealing noise from the front of the vehicle

If you notice a squealing noise coming from the front of your vehicle, it could be from the serpentine belt. This could be due to a slippage or misalignment. The only way to make the noise go away is to contact a professional mechanic and have them replace the serpentine/drive belt or diagnose the issue.

2. Power steering and AC not working

If the serpentine belt completely fails and breaks, then your vehicle will break down. In addition, you will notice the loss of power steering, the air conditioning will not work, and the engine will no longer able to be cooled like it should be. Preventative maintenance is one way to make sure your belt does not break while you are driving it. If the power steering fails when the vehicle is moving it could cause serious safety issues.

3. Engine overheating

Since the serpentine belt helps provide power to cool the engine, a failing belt can cause your engine to overheat as the water pump is not turning. As soon as your engine starts overheating, take your vehicle to a mechanic because it can lead to a breakdown and cause damage to your engine if it is left to keep overheating.

4. Cracks and wear on the belt

It is a good idea to physically inspect your serpentine belt from time to time. Check for cracks, chunks missing, abrasions, rib separation, uneven rib wear, and damaged ribs. If you notice any of these, it is time to replace your serpentine/drive belt.

As soon as you notice a squealing noise, loss of power steering, the engine overheating, or the belt looks bad, call a mechanic immediately to diagnose the problem further. YourMechanic makes getting repairs to your serpentine/drive belt easy by coming to your home or office to diagnose or fix issues.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Icon-warranty_badge-02

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

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.

GET A QUOTE

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

ASK A QUESTION

More related articles

How to Find the Keyless Code on a Ford Explorer or Mercury Mountaineer
Many Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers were manufactured with an option known as the Ford keyless entry keypad. Some models refer to it as SecuriCode as well. It...
Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in Idaho
The state of Idaho offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch in the...
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...


Related questions

Q: Serpentine belt broke, replaced it but lost AC. It broke again 2 days later

It would've been helpful to know if the A/C was working fine or having a problem when the first belt broke. I suspect that the A/C pulley is binding, causing the second and first belt to break. If the A/C...

Q: Van squealing and leaking power steering fluid.

The noise you hear is the power steering pump whining from lack of fluid. The leaking fluid is most likely the pressure line leaking fluid and would need to be replaced. The power steering pump may have to be replaced...

Q: Possible blown head gasket issue - 2008 Ford F-150

Hello. If it has a blown head gasket it can be quite the undertaking to fix this. You would need to remove the cylinder heads and have them fully rebuilt prior to reinstalling them. If you have a lot of...