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Are you wondering if your serpentine belt is going bad? If so, then this article might be helpful. We will discuss what the serpentine belt does, how to tell it’s going bad, and what to do when it happens. The last thing that you want is for your car not to start because of a broken belt!
What does the Serpentine Belt do?
The serpentine belt is the one that connects all of your car’s major components. Your engine, air conditioner, and power steering are attached to it! It also runs through the water pump. This belt helps turns these parts at a steady pace so they can work properly. The tension on this belt needs to be adjusted periodically too because eventually it will be loosened.
How do you know if your serpentine belt is going bad?
As the serpentine belt connects to many major car parts, the symptoms related to a bad serpentine belt will be connected with the A/C, engine, steering wheel, and battery. Here are a few signs that can indicate that the belt might need to be replaced.
- Air Conditioning Problem
- Overheat Engine
- Fail Steering Wheel
- Low/Dead Battery
- Noisy Unusual Sound
- Cracks on Belt
#1 Air Conditioning Problem
Your air conditioning might not be working properly. It may blow out cold air for a few moments and then get hot or it could start blowing warm/hot air when the car is off.
The belt connecting to your AC unit can’t turn at a steady pace, which will cause this problem.
#2 Overheat Engine
The serpentine belt will cause the water pump to turn which cools down your engine. If this belt snaps, then it will overheat because of lack of circulation.
If you start smelling burning rubber or see smoke coming from under the hood, these are signs that something is wrong with your serpentine belt.
If this happens, you can see the temperature gauge on your dashboard go up. This is a sign that you need to take the car in ASAP.
You can also try checking under the hood for leaks and see if there are any fluids dripping out of it. This will signal that something needs to be fixed soon, preferably before driving anywhere else.
#3 Fail Steering Wheel
To have power steering, the serpentine belt needs to be in good condition. If your serpentine belt snaps, then you will not be able to turn the steering wheel.
This issue could also be related to low power steering fluid. If this is the case, check the power steering reservoir under the hood.
When this happens, it’s best that you attend it as soon as possible before something worse can happen. This could end up costing you more money and time if you wait too long.
#4 Low/Dead Battery
If you notice that your battery is low or dead, check the serpentine belt too. This could be a symptom of a problem with the serpentine belt because it supplies power to both the engine and all of the other electrical components in your car. If the alternator is not charging your battery, then you need to check if your serpentine belt is broken.
A broken serpentine belt will not allow for proper function which can lead to issues such as stalled engines and lights that are not bright enough.
#5 Noisy Unusual Sound
If you hear a rattling, squeaking or whining sound coming from your front area, it may be time to take the next step and inspect the belt. The noise could be caused by a misalignment between the belts or by improper tension.
If you start to notice a whining chirp-like sound coming from the engine, double-check the tension of your serpentine belt. Tightening the belt too much can put undue pressure on your power steering pump and alternator bearings, which can cause them to wear out prematurely.
#6 Cracks on Belt
The serpentine belt is either made of rubber or reinforced with steel. A crack in the belt can quickly lead to a catastrophic failure and you will need to replace it as soon as possible.
Just need to open the hood and you can check if there are any cracks on your serpentine belt.
Keep an eye on the serpentine belt on your vehicle by checking for any cracks or other damage. Now you know the symptoms of a bad serpentine belt and how serious it is to drive with a snapped belt. Make sure you have it checked timely.
Regularly check if the belt has a tight and even tension.
It’s recommended to replace it every 50,000-100,000 (depending on the belt material) miles which is usually at three years of use.