Your vehicle’s serpentine belt is one of the most vital parts of your car, truck, or SUV. When it comes to your vehicle, there are some parts that are just necessary for many other components to function, and the serpentine belt happens to be one of them. If your car isn’t working as it should, and you have no idea why, it could be due to this belt going bad. We are going to review what it is, why it’s important, and signs that your serpentine belt needs replaced.
What is a Serpentine Belt?
We know, most people don’t know what this belt is or really care about it normally, but when yours is going bad or has already failed you, it’s not just inconvenient, it can’t leave you stuck in the middle of the road. Because of this, if you own a car, truck, or SUV, you will want to become familiar with this vehicle component and know when there are signs that your serpentine belt needs replaced before you are stranded. So, what is a serpentine belt?
A serpentine belt, or drive belt, is a single, continuous belt used to drive multiple peripheral devices in an automotive engine, such as an alternator, power steering pump, water pump, air conditioning compressor, air pump, etc. (Wikipedia). This long belt in your car’s engine has vertical grooves running its length and it snakes around several pulleys, connecting them to the motion of the engine’s crankshaft. As that turns, the belt causes the pulleys to turn, which powers several accessories.
Serpentine belts are built to last, under ideal conditions, for an average of 60,000 to 100,000 miles. Of course, like all things in your vehicle, this depends on the driver, driving conditions, vehicle, and more. In most cases, if this belt breaks, the vehicle will stop working all together, which is the main reason why it is so important.
Signs Your Serpentine Belt Needs Replaced
Because the serpentine belt is critical to basically keeping your vehicle working, you should watch for signs that yours may be going bad and need replaced. No one wants to end up stuck on the side of the road or in the middle of an intersection if it can be avoided, and this is one component that usually tries to warn you ahead of time before it completely gives out. We are going to review some signs that your serpentine belt may need to be replaced.
Loud noises or screeching from under the hood: As we know, you should not ignore any new noises coming from your vehicle, so if you hear a squealing sound coming from the front of your car, truck, or SUV, it should alert you that something may be wrong, in most cases, this is due to a belt failing.
Fraying, cracking, or splitting of the belt: The most noticeable sign of a bad serpentine belt is that it starts to fray, crack, or split. It is always a good idea to look under your vehicle hood from time to time, and if you notice that your belt looks worn or damaged, it is recommended to have it replaced before it completely breaks.
Difficulty steering: The serpentine belt, in most cars, powers the power steering pump, if yours has went bad or needs replaced, it may be very hard or heavy to steer your vehicle.
Vehicle components and accessories not working as they should: If it seems like things are going haywire in your vehicle, and some items are working while others aren’t, such as air conditioning, radio, lights, and more, it could be a sign that your belt is not getting the energy to the water pump, battery, alternator, or other vehicle components. This is a very common sign that your serpentine belt needs replaced.
Check engine light is on: Your vehicle’s check engine light is an easy and convenient way for your vehicle to tell you that something is wrong with your car, truck, or SUV. If your check engine light is on, it means that something is not right within your vehicle. Your serpentine belt going bad can cause a domino effect and create many other issues within your car, truck, or SUV.
By regularly inspecting your vehicle, you can prevent unexpected breakdowns and problems. There are signs that your serpentine belt needs replaced, usually prior to it completely going bad. Because it is responsible for getting power to some very important parts of your vehicle (air conditioning, steering, the battery, etc.), you will want to have the belt replaced before it completely wears out on you.
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