How Do I Know If My Serpentine Belt Is Bad?

Many years ago, cars ran using multiple belts doing various tasks under the hood of a car. Today, most cars use one drive belt called a serpentine belt or a v-belt. This rubber belt connects the alternator, power steering, and AC to the part of the engine called the crankshaft. The crankshaft then transfers the power from the engine to those individual components. Since the belt runs all these systems, it is a very important part of your car and should be checked frequently for wear and tear.

What are the Signs of Wear on the Belt?

Noises – Chirping, squealing, and other noises coming from under the hood can be an indication that a serpentine belt is wearing down. Whenever there is a funny noise coming from under the hood, it's usually not a good sign and you should have your car inspected immediately.

Visible Wear – You can inspect the belt yourself and look for signs of wear. A dry belt and cracks are signs your serpentine belt needs to be replaced.

Check Engine Light – If your check engine light comes on, this could mean something is wrong with your serpentine belt, but also could be another issue. If this light comes on, it is best to go get your car diagnosed by a mechanic to determine what is wrong with the car.

Difficulties in Operating – If you are experiencing difficulties starting the car or the power steering seems to have failed, then these could be an indication your serpentine belt is causing problems.

What is the Typical Maintenance on a Serpentine Belt?

Serpentine belts are very durable and built to last up to 100,000 miles. While that is impressive, the amount of time you get on your belt also correlates to how you maintain the belt. If your serpentine belt is manually tensioned, then you need to have the tension checked periodically. Even cars with a self-tensioning mechanism should be checked for wear and tear.

There is no set time frame for this maintenance, but many people ask their mechanic to take a look at the belt and the system during oil changes. If you start to hear any squeaks or squeals, then getting it checked right away is important.

If a serpentine belt breaks, your car will not start, as it does not receive power from the battery. This is also true if you are driving; if the belt breaks, the car will stop, while you are stranded on the side of the road. This is why it is important to keep tabs on the condition of your serpentine belt and make it part of your normal car maintenance routine. Contact Four-Twenty-Two Auto Wrecking for more information about car parts.