The drive belt, also known as the serpentine belt, is a long, winding rubber belt that wraps and connects various parts under the hood. It connects and powers the alternator, power steering pump, water pump, and A/C compressor. It is more common in older vehicles than new. Similar to the other belts in your car, the serpentine belt requires replacing after it wears out.
To save yourself from repair bills, it is best to replace the drive belt before it breaks or malfunctions. Here are some of the top signs of a worn drive belt:
- Squealing Sounds - If you catch a squeal from under the hood, especially during acceleration, it can mean that the drive belt is slipping or wearing down. In some cases, oil might even leak with it.
- Steering Issues - Since the serpentine belt powers your steering pump, it can completely disengage the assisted steering system. So, it is best to check your serpentine belt when you notice changes in your steering.
- A/C Malfunction - A failing drive belt can cause your A/C to stop working since it powers the compressor.
- Overheating Engine - Sometimes, the serpentine belt powers the water pump, which is a vital component in the cooling system. Without the water pump working, your engine will not be able to dissipate heat as well. And your engine will run very hot. If your temperature gauge is climbing or there’s steam coming out of the hood, please stop driving and pull over.
- Dashboard Warning Light Comes On - The check engine light or another warning may show up on your dash to warn you that one of the above problems is occurring due to a bad drive belt.
What If the Drive Belt Breaks
As mentioned above, the drive belt powers many components. When the belt breaks, all those functions may stop working. Your car will not be safe to drive. To prevent serpentine belt failure, we recommend inspecting the serpentine belt regularly. That way, your mechanic can suggest when it is best to replace the belt.
You can refer to the owner’s manual to see when your automaker wants you to change the drive belt. Serpentine belts can last anywhere from 60-100K miles.
If you need a belt inspected or replaced, please call or visit the professional team at Springdale Automotive.