In your car a majority of the important systems, like the alternator, water pump, power steering and even the air conditioning will depend on the function of a serpentine or v-belt. It keeps the components moving and functioning properly to avoid any metal on metal collisions or damages. As such, any issues with the belt itself can lead to extensive damages to various crucial components throughout the entire vehicle meaning staying on top of the health and condition of your serpentine belt is vital. There are a few signs to look for that your serpentine belt may be wearing and in need of replacement, identifying these signs can help to make sure that you catch it before any further damages can be caused.
Most common signs & basic maintenance tips
Loud Drive Belt– If there is a noisy squealing coming from the serpentine belt then it is important that you have your vehicle inspected immediately. Before taking it in consider if you have recently driven through rain as water on the belt can produce a similar noise but is a harmless nonissue. If the issue is being caused by leaking or spilled motor oil though, it can mean a complete replacement is needed for the belts and it will need to be replaced immediately before any more damages can be caused.
Belt Wear and Tear– Before suddenly failing one day, the serpentine belt will usually begin to show signs of wear and tear. It is a ribbed belt and if you notice that there are ribs missing in sections or chunks than that is ok, but if there are a considerable amount of chunks missing or there are several notches/ribs kept close together, then the drive/serpentine belt needs to be replaced right away. You may also notice the belt is wearing unevenly and this could signal a misaligned belt under the hood, which then signals a potential issue with the pulley.
Routine Maintenance– Advancements in technology and the production of rubber have actually led to extended lifespans for the serpentine belt even as other belts have been phased out in favor for just the one serpentine belt. The average drive belt will last anywhere between 60,000-100,000 miles before needing to be replaced as part of a routine service and maintenance appointment. However, don’t let the long lasting durability suggest that you should not periodically inspect the belt when having other service appointments taken care of. Some belts are manually tensioned and may need adjustments while others have a self-tensioning mechanism with them that will take care of it for you, however in both of those instances, the belt and the mechanism itself are prone to wearing out over time. If the belt or mechanism break then the vehicle will immediately stop running and it can lead to a complete totaling of your vehicle so be sure to routine check the various components regardless of what type of belt you have.
The Benefit of a Belt Replacement– If you are rough on your car when it comes to driving then you may know that your components are subject to a bit of accelerated wear, this is true for the belts as well. The biggest benefit of replacing the belts periodically regardless of your driving style is that it will make each drive worry-free and more enjoyable. The serpentine belt is responsible for just about every one of the engine’s accessories, there is no reason to take risks or any room for them when you consider the damages that can be inflicted should the belt break while you are out driving. Noticing signs of wear and replacing the belt when needed will do wonders for preventing extensive damages to any component of your vehicle.
The serpentine belt in your vehicle does an awful lot of things for one belt, and even though it powers almost all of the accessories of your engine, it can withstand a pretty long lifespan with minimal wear and tear. That does not mean that it never needs to be tended to however, closely inspecting and checking your belt periodically will help you to determine if it needs to be replaced and if there is an issue with another piece of the vehicle that is causing this damage or wear to the belts that needs to be taken care of.