The serpentine belt, also known as the drive belt, is a vital part of the accessory drive belt system. This system consists of the drive belt, idler, accessory pulleys, and tensioner. The inside of the serpentine belt has ribs or grooves for better grip but is usually smooth on the outside.
The drive belt wraps around idler pulleys that maintain its snake-line configuration, and around accessory pulleys of the belt-driven components, it helps to power. These include the alternator, air conditioning compressor, power steering pump, cooling system water pump and air pump.
Signs of a Failing Serpentine Belt
Squealing or Squeaking Noise
A squealing noise from the front of your vehicle is normally a sign of a failing serpentine belt. The noise is caused by slippage or misalignment of the drive belt. If the belt breaks completely, it will cause a flapping or flopping sound.
Loss of Air Conditioning or Power Steering
If your drive belt malfunctions, it will lead to the failure of several supported systems, including air conditioning and power steering.
Failure to Charge the Battery
If your battery is failing to recharge, this could be a sign of a failed serpentine belt. This is because the drive belt powers the alternator, which charges your battery when the engine runs.
The drive belt powers the water pump in older car models. If it fails, it can lead to overheating of the engine. However, in newer car models, the water pump is now powered by the chain or timing belt.
Visible Cracks and Wear on the Belt
A worn serpentine belt will have rib abrasions, missing chunks, rib separation, and uneven rib wear. If you notice any of these signs, you should have the belt replaced before it fails.
When to Replace Your Serpentine Belt
Serpentine belts are built to last for close to a hundred thousand miles. However, replacing the belt every fifty thousand miles or so is advisable. You can have the belt inspected by the mechanic whenever you get an oil change. If you need serpentine belt repair, we invite you to bring your vehicle to Tri Star Automotive, Inc. today!