What's a serpentine / drive belt?
The serpentine/drive belt or v-belt is a rubber belt that connects the alternator, power steering, and AC to the part of the engine (crankshaft) which transfers the power from the engine to those components. Without this belt, the battery will not get charged and none of the electrical accessory components in the car will work. The serpentine belt and v-belt are also known as "drive belts."
Because of the high amount of heat in the engine, the belt can develop cracks over time and eventually break. If the belt breaks, the steering wheel will be difficult to turn and driving will be hazardous.
In some cars, water pumps are driven by the drive belts. If the belt breaks, water and coolant needed to keep the engine cool will not properly flow to the engine. The engine will overheat, potentially causing severe damage.
Keep this in mind about serpentine belts:
A car will either have a serpentine belt(s) or v-belt(s). Cars that have a serpentine belt will have one or two belts. Most modern cars have only one belt, driving all the engine accessory components. If the car has v-belts, it will most likely have four belts.
How to repair a serpentine / drive belt?
- Inspect the belts for cracks.
- Remove and replace any damaged belts.
- Inspect pulleys and bearings.
Our drive belt advice:
A mechanic should inspect the drive belts during oil changes. If you hear a squealing noise from the engine, it is likely that the drive belts need adjustment or replacement.
What common symptoms indicate you may need to replace the Serpentine/Drive Belt?
- Squealing noise coming from engine if the belt is loose or worn out.
- Lack of steering if the belt is broken.
- Battery Warning Light is on.
- Engine overheats.
Why it's important to replace a serpentine / drive belt:
The drive belts connect the engine to the alternator, air conditioning, power steering, and sometimes the water pump. These belts are how power is transferred from the engines to these other systems. When the belts break, the engine will be unable to transfer power to the alternator, air conditioning, and power steering. Since the alternator is responsible for charging your battery, a broken drive belt means that the electrical components won’t work in your vehicle. The power steering also will fail, which makes it difficult and dangerous to steer. If your car’s water pump is also connected to the drive belt then the engine will not have a properly functioning cooling system, and your vehicle will be likely to overheat.