What Do the Belts on the Front of an Engine Do?

Schedule Brake Pad Replacement
Service Area

$125.02 - $443.96

Price range for all vehicles
Average rating from 11,564 customers who received a Brake Pads Replacement.

Even back in the "olden days," combustion engines utilized belts and pulleys to power components like water pumps or air conditioning systems. Although technology has improved, belts continue to be a vital component on most cars, trucks and SUVs. Although each vehicle has a unique belt-driven system designed for different engines and configurations, there are generally two types of belts: accessory or serpentine belts, and timing belts.

The accessory belt, which is located on the front of the engine, is an important part that controls many different function of the vehicle. It may also be called the serpentine belt, which is a much more mysterious sounding name but means the same thing. The reason for its name is that it wraps around different pulleys much like a snake; hence the term serpentine. This belt operates multiple accessory items such as the water pump, radiator fan, alternator, and air conditioning system.

The timing belt is installed underneath a cover on the motor, and is designed to operate the crankshaft or camshaft, which controls the timing of all internal engine components like the pistons and valves. For purposes of this article, we'll focus on the serpentine belt.

How the Serpentine Belt Works

This single belt replaces the multiple belt system that was once seen on engines. Older models had one belt for each accessory. The problem was that if one belt broke, you'd have to remove all of them in order to replace the bad one. This not only took extensive time to complete, but often cost consumers a lot of money to pay a mechanic to complete the service.

The serpentine belt was designed to solve these problems. The serpentine or accessory belt controls all of these components. It is driven by the crankshaft pulley and weaves in and out of different accessory system pulleys. Some vehicles may have a special belt for certain accessories, but for the most part, one belt does many jobs. This reduces the amount of labor needed to replace a broken belt and also reduces drag on the motor. The end result is a more efficient system that maintains smooth operation of all belt-driven components.

How Long Does a Serpentine Belt Last?

The serpentine belt is used every time the engine runs, and this constant operation puts a lot of wear and tear on it. Like any other rubber component in an engine bay, it is subjected to high heat and thus will wear out over time. The lifespan of the serpentine 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 ensure that your car receives regular maintenance, and that the belt is inspected every time you have your engine oil and filter replaced. It's also a good idea to have the belt and pulleys inspected during any radiator or cooling system service. 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 air conditioning system won’t work, and alternator won’t operate. The car can also overheat since the water pump will not function, which can quickly lead to engine damage.

Anytime you have the serpentine belt replaced, it is recommended to also have the pulleys and tensioner replaced at the same time. This is a service that a professionally trained mechanic should complete, so contact a local mobile mechanic to replace your serpentine belt as recommended by your manufacturer.


Next Step

Schedule Brake Pad Replacement

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Brake Pad Replacement. Yourmechanic’s technicians bring the dealership to you by performing this job at your home or office 7 days a week between 7AM-9PM. We currently cover over 10k cities and have 100k+ 5-star reviews... LEARN MORE

SEE PRICING & SCHEDULING

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

Recent Brake Pad Replacement reviews

Excellent Rating


YourMechanic Brake Pad Replacement Service

Average Rating

4.9/5

Number of Reviews

11,564

Rating Summary
11,038
334
70
34
88
11,038
334
70
34
88

Pardeep

20 years of experience
652 reviews
Pardeep
20 years of experience
Ford Fusion - Brake Pads Replacement (Rear) - Fremont, California
Again 5 star service. And already scheduling him for my next appointment. Highly recommend Pardeep for your car needs.
Chevrolet Camaro - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Jose, California
Great knowledgeable mechanic and fast great work. I will use Pardeep and your services again. Thank you

Theodore

15 years of experience
1137 reviews
Theodore
15 years of experience
Toyota Camry - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Everett, Washington
Theodore arrived on time, he did a great job replacing my brakes on my Camry, I will definitely work with him again.
Subaru Outback - Brake Pads Replacement (Front, Rear) - Renton, Washington
We have had previous work done by Theodore. Really appreciate his thoroughness and professionalism!

Matthew

32 years of experience
734 reviews
Matthew
32 years of experience
Jeep Wrangler - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Yorktown, Virginia
We've been using Your Mechanic services for a few years, for a few reasons. The convenience of having an expert mechanic "on-call," the great pricing and transparency for services (saving 10% - 25% at times), most of all Matt is our go-to guy who is highly qualified, knowledgeable in the work and knows how to explain it to us in detail.
Ford F-150 - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - Newport News, Virginia
Matt's technical knowledge of his profession is incredible! He is prompt, thorough, friendly, professional, engaging, and completes the job to 100% perfection! Thank you, Matt for the most outstanding auto repair service in all my many years!!!

Jason

31 years of experience
162 reviews
Jason
31 years of experience
Nissan Altima - Brake Pads Replacement (Front) - San Mateo, California
Jason was very professional and friendly. He provided extremely honest and helpful advice on issues with my Altima that would require proactive future maintenance.

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