Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls

Q: How Do Drive and Serpentine Belts Work?

asked by on

How do drive and serpentine belts work?

A: Accessory drive belts are used to transfer ...

Accessory drive belts are used to transfer rotational motion from the crankshaft to the other accessories on the engine. The driven accessories include the generator, power steering pump, air conditioning compressor, secondary air pump, and the water pump. There are two types of accessory drive belts: V-belts and serpentine belts.

V-belts were used all the way up to the 1990s when they were replaced by serpentine belts. V-belts are shaped like a "V", which is how they got their name. These belts rotate on two or three pulleys to operate their respective accessories. Many older vehicles used multiple V-belts to operate all of the engine accessories. All of the V-belt pulleys rotated in the same direction.

Serpentine belts are so named because they follow a back and forth direction similar to the movement of serpents, or snakes. This is made possible by the fact that serpentine belt pulleys can rotate in either direction. As a result, there is usually only a single serpentine belt to drive all of the accessories on an engine. Serpentine belts use both the ribbed side of the belt and the smooth backside of the belt to operate the pulleys.

Was this answer helpful?

Need advice from certified mechanic? Get help now!

Over 1000 mechanics are ready to answer your question.
The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details

Get an instant quote for your car

Our certified mechanics come to you ・Backed by 12-month, 12,000-mile guarantee・Fair and transparent pricing

Get a quote

What others are asking

Q: Little bit of crankshaft wobble

After watching the video myself, I can say that you have no problems to worry about. The crankshaft is not bent. The wobble is in the front crankshaft pulley. The outer pulley is mounted to the inner hub by rubber...

Q: What Are the Common Signs Your Drive Belt Needs Replacing?

Some signs that your drive belt should be replaced as soon as possible are: the drive belt wearing unevenly, several missing teeth in succession, or has been contaminated by oil. A faulty belt will usually emit squeaks or squeals. A...

Q: What Are the Different Drive Belts in Your Car?

Well depending on the year, make, and model, there are different kinds of belts. On today’s newer vehicles a single belt called a serpentine belt is used. It’s called “serpentine” because it snakes around all the drive pulleys, and uses...

Related articles

How Long Does a Heater Control Valve Last?
Keeping the right amount of coolant in a car is essential in keeping the engine at the right temperature. Failing to have the right amount of coolant or even bad elements...
How to Avoid Back Pain in a Car
If you have back problems, sitting in a car for an extended period of time can be excruciating. Even without back problems, you could experience discomfort and soreness from...
What are the Car Pool Rules in Hawaii?
Hawaii is widely regarded as a land of vacation and relaxation, and as such, its scenic roads and routes are far better known than the state’s freeways. But, as with all...