Why Serpentine Belt Replacements on Cars With Limited Clearance Can Be Tricky

Car and small sport utility vehicles that are front wheel drive and all wheel drive will have a clearance issue when it comes to replacing a serpentine belt.

A serpentine belt, also known as a multi-vee, poly-v, or multi-rib belt, is a single, continuous belt used to drive multiple devices in an automotive engine, such as an alternator, power steering pump, or water pump.

The replacement of the serpentine belt can vary due to conditions of wear. It could be just old and has weather cracks or perhaps a belt tensioner or pulley has failed causing the belt to become stretched and glazed.

For most front wheel drive and all wheel drive vehicles, the serpentine belt is usually difficult in many ways to replace. Most of the time a standard ratchet cannot fit between the belt tensioner and the fender or even a breaker bar. It would seem to remove the inner fender to gain access to the belt tensioner, but removing the inner fender could be tiresome and take a long time. Therefore, a tool was created just for moving belt tensioners to remove the serpentine belt.

Some vehicles that are front wheel drive have top engine mounts that are commonly known as dog bones. These engine mounts are either mounted from the top of the engine to the front of the vehicle or to the sides of the vehicle. When the engine mount goes from the top of the engine to the inner fender it tends to interfere with the serpentine belt removal.

If an engine mount is to be removed from the top of the engine, the engine must be supported from rocking back to prevent damage to other parts and to aid in reassemble of the engine mount.

Some vehicles are required to be lifted off the ground to gain access to the belt tensioner. Also for some vehicles, when having to go up from underneath through the engine compartment there may be a engine guard that would need to be removed prior to gaining access to the serpentine belt.

When removing the serpentine belt, it can be tricky to take the belt off some pulleys and very tricky when putting the new belt on. It is best to follow the diagram on the vehicle decal located on the hood or hood mount. If there is no diagram decal on the vehicle then viewing the diagram from the owners manual would be an alternative way to see how the serpentine belt is routed.

After routing the serpentine belt, it is best to hold the belt up and have a top pulley to lace it around. While holding the belt, use the belt tensioner tool to relax the tensioner so the belt can easily slide over the final top pulley. When releasing the belt tensioner tool the serpentine belt should be aligned properly.

  • Note: Be sure to check the serpentine belt for proper alignment and proper installation prior to starting the engine.

If you need to replace your serpentine belt, book one of our mechanics and we'd be happy to help.


Next Step

Schedule Serpentine/Drive Belt Replacement

The most popular service booked by readers of this article is Serpentine/Drive Belt 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 2,000 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 Serpentine/Drive Belt Replacement reviews

Excellent Rating

(4,543)

Rating Summary
4,343
114
22
16
48
4,343
114
22
16
48

Robert

20 years of experience
875 reviews
Robert
20 years of experience
Ford F-150 - Serpentine/Drive Belt - Denver, Colorado
This was my second booking with Robert. He’s an excellent mechanic and has a great personality. Would book again, would have a beer with him. Cheers.
Honda Element - Serpentine/Drive Belt - Denver, Colorado
Robert has been to our house twice for various repairs and did a great job! I highly recommend him and will use him again for any of our car repairs!

Andrian

32 years of experience
184 reviews
Andrian
32 years of experience
Mercedes-Benz S550 - Serpentine/Drive Belt - Hollywood, Florida
Adrian is the Best! Should call him big smooth. He came out and got the job done. He was also quick and did everything i request. Master Mechanic!!! Would defintley recommend for Mercedes s550 or any car. This guy knows his stuff. J.L (Mercedes S-550)
Hyundai Tiburon - Serpentine/Drive Belt - Hollywood, Florida
Adrian was extremely professional and courteous. He took care of everything quickly and was a pleasure to work with

Adam

17 years of experience
100 reviews
Adam
17 years of experience
Buick Rendezvous - Serpentine/Drive Belt - Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Car repairs can be stressful and confusing, Adam explanations and recommendations were very professional.
Jeep Wrangler - Serpentine/Drive Belt - West Palm Beach, Florida
Adam was knowledgeable, courteous, and professional. The overheating issue w/ my Jeep has been corrected.

Christopher

10 years of experience
76 reviews
Christopher
10 years of experience
Toyota Corolla - Serpentine/Drive Belt - Cypress, Texas
Christopher was here for about 2 hours and he did quite a bit of work. The worksite was left clean, which was much to my liking. He had to change out the transmission oil and engine oil in my Mother's car. Who would have known that you could have this done in your own garage, with no mess or hassle.
Jeep Wrangler - Serpentine/Drive Belt - Katy, Texas
Chris really went out of his way to get my Jeep back on the road. He had to order a part and even though the scheduling system had me waiting almost a week for him to return, he actually showed up the next day! Great service, great communication!

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

Related articles

How to Adjust Drive Belts
Drive belts power electrical systems and other features in your car. An improperly adjusted drive belt can cause damage to your engine.
How to Buy a Battery for Your Car
Your Your car battery is a storage device for the electrical power you need to start your car and operate your car’s options. If your car battery isn’t working as it should, you may not be able to start your...
How to Replace Suspension Springs
Replacing suspension springs can be challenging, as involves making sure all power from the car is disconnected and that the proper tools are used.

Related questions

Engine light and battery light came on and I lost my power steering.... this guy is telling me it is my serpentine belt 2003 Audi A6

Hi there - this is the logical failure for the symptoms you describe. Look just behind the radiator (not much room in there!) - if you see bare pulleys without a belt, the serpentine belt has failed you. I would...

Squeaking/creaking noise when stopping at slow speeds

Open the hood and check if any belt pulleys or tensioner are making the sound. Remove the serpentine belt and spin all of the pulleys that you can move. If they do not have a sound to them, then the...

Problems putting in a spark plug in I had to thread the port for the plug now it won't stay in

You are supposed to thread the hole out and get all the material from cutting cleaned out of the hole and engine cylinder. After it is cleaned then you should clean the threads with brake cleaner that will dry quickly....

How can we help?

Our service team is available 7 days a week, Monday - Friday from 6 AM to 5 PM PST, Saturday - Sunday 7 AM - 4 PM PST.

1 (855) 347-2779 · hi@yourmechanic.com