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Serpentine Belt, Its Function And What Happens When It Goes Bad



serpentine belt

Serpentine belt or drive belt is a belt that drives several accessories in your car engine. Some of these accessories include an alternator, air conditioner compressor, power steering pump and so on.

Some cars are fitted with double serpentine belt while some come with just one. Most of the modern cars built recently just come with one.

Even though the serpentine belt is made of a very durable rubber material, it still wears out over time.

A bad or worn serpentine belt may be accompanied by a chirping or squeaking noise. If the serpentine belt is extremely worn, it can break.

What will be the outcome of a broken serpentine belt?

If the serpentine should break, it will compromise the drivability of your car. Added to that are:

1. It will cause your engine to overheat. This is because the water pump stops working.

2. The battery light on your dashboard may come on. This is as a result of the alternator not charging the battery.

3. The steering will get very stiff. Once the serpentine belt snaps, the steering will lose its steering assist and hence, get very stiff.

How do you know when to replace the serpentine belt?

serpentine belt and tensioner

Most manufacturers don’t specify when to have them replaced. They rather recommend an inspection during regular servicing when it clocks a certain mileage.

During such servicing, you can have your mechanic look for cracks, damaged edges and other signs of wear on the serpentine belt.


Emeka is a Contributor at Autojosh. A graduate of Electrical/Electronic Engineering with a B.Eng degree. Emeka is a car enthusiast who is interested in traveling, writing, movies and driving. He also loves drinking garri with cold water.