The serpentine belt (or drive belt) provides power to various components in your vehicle. Which crucial components? I'm glad you asked! These can include the power steering pump, alternator, air conditioning system, and – in some vehicles – the water pump, which are all put into motion by the serpentine belt. That's why it's important to keep that serpent slithering smoothly!
Modern serpentine belts should last between 60,000-100,000 miles. Heat and friction wear the belt down over time, causing it to fray, crack, and slip on the pulleys it's wrapped around – all normal wear and tear. However, improper tension on the belt can also cause it to wear more quickly and create other issues as it begins to slip.
Squealing noise – Squealing under the hood could mean the serpentine belt is slipping or already damaged. Sometimes this only requires an adjustment to the tension on your belt, while other times it may require a belt replacement.
Overheating engine – If the serpentine belt isn't providing the water pump with power, the pump can't cool your engine. This is a serious issue that can snowball into many other problems. (that's a hot snowball!)
Power steering loss – Since the serpentine belt helps the power steering system function, you may find yourself with trouble turning the wheel as a result of a faulty serpentine belt.
Air conditioning problems – If your A/C isn't blowing cold air, this could point back to the serpentine belt failing to provide enough power the air conditioning system.
Loss of battery power – The alternator depends on the serpentine belt for power, so if it's not functioning properly, your battery is also unable to recharge.
Visible wear on serpentine belt – Cracks, worn ribs, separation, missing chunks, fraying, and other obvious damage to the belt is a clear indication of a needed belt replacement.
At each of our Brakes Plus locations, our technicians will provide a free visual inspection of all your belts and hoses each time you visit for an oil change or scheduled maintenance service. This is an easy way to keep an eye on these parts and ensure they're all in good, safe condition.
We're of course happy to take a look between those services as well – just stop by, or schedule an appointment for a day and time convenient for you!