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: no compression and cam sensor fault

In your circumstance, two possible causes of no cylinder compression are a broken timing belt or a faulty head gasket. Replacing a timing belt is a fairly common repair. Replacing a head gasket is somewhat involved, and will have more...

Q: Serpentine belt broke

Hello. Yes, the idler pulley and tensioner should be replaced with the serpentine belt. The bearing in the idler pulley wears out over the miles and the tensioner weakens with use as well. This is not a sign of...

Q: Car chirping while idling

Hi there. A chirping sound could indicate an idler pulley is about to fail. The bearing in the pulley will start to break down and need replacing. Although it could be a different pulley going bad, I would recommend having...

Related articles

How Do Power Car Windows Increase Passenger Safety?
Power windows are responsible for approximately 2,000 emergency room visits every year. When a power window closes, it exerts enough force to bruise or break bones, crush fingers, or restrict an airway. Though...
How Long Does a Distributor O Ring Last?
The distributor is part of the ignition system in your vehicle and its purpose is to route high voltage from the ignition coil to the spark plug. The spark plug then...
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...