The serpentine belt is one long, snaking, winding belt that keeps your alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning and—in some cases—your water pump running smoothly and effectively.
Serpentine belts are standard in just about any vehicle from the last quarter century. And they’re crucial for running everything from alternators to power steering. In other words, when it’s time to replace it, replace it.
The serpentine belt plays an essential role in running your car’s systems, explains TheDrive.com. It powers the alternator, the power steering pump, the air conditioning compressor and, in some vehicles, the water pump. The serpentine belt rotates constantly when the car is running.
There are two belts you need to be familiar with when talking about car maintenance — the serpentine belt and the timing belt. The serpentine belt winds through your engine and carries power to several key components, including the alternator, air conditioning, and power steering pump.
The short answer is yes, your car will start even if the serpentine belt is broken or missing. To get the car going, the battery sends power to your starter motor. … However, you do need your serpentine belt if you want the car to run for longer than a few minutes.
Worn/Cracked Serpentine Belt – Serpentine belts have grooves which fit into grooves in the pulleys. Over time, the friction wears down these grooves, resulting in a loose fit. A worn belt can, therefore, begin to slip, which is one of the causes the squeal. Alternatively, cracks can cause the belt to snap.
The replacement cost of an alternator belt is typically between $100 and $200. The part cost is between $25 and $80 while the labor cost is between $75 and $120.
A typical serpentine belt start at around $25 and goes up to $75 at most. If you know some car repair basics, you could change the belt yourself, and it may save you paying labor charges somewhere between $75 and $120. All together, you’re looking at around $100 to $195 to replace your serpentine belt.
Bad Serpentine Belts Cause Vehicle Performance Issues
Your air conditioning or power steering may fail to work or not work properly. You may notice your vehicle battery failing to recharge if the alternator is affected by a bad serpentine belt.
A loose drive belt will often be noisy, squeaking a bit, or emitting a high-pitched squeal. The most obvious sign of a loose drive belt, though, is in its appearance and tension. … They are the v-belt and serpentine belt. Belts are used to rotate components on the engine assembly, such as a coolant pump (water pump).
Symptoms of a broken serpentine belt include loud slapping, squealing or knocking noises coming from under the hood. The battery-shaped charging system warning light might also come on because the alternator will stop charging the battery. … This causes the belt to start slipping from time to time.
For the unfortunate souls who realize that this vital part of the vehicle is failing, how long will a car run without an alternator and what can you do to elongate the vehicle’s ability to function? Without this essential component, your car will only function for up to two hours and as little as five minutes.
In this situation, the battery could last as little as 30 minutes. If you are lucky and could get up to two hours. Note: In case you have to start the car without an alternator, don’t turn off the engine once you’re going. Starting the car flattens the battery down quickly.
75 – 80 miles sounds pretty good. If your alternator crapped out it might be cheaper to buy a battery and charge the one in the car to get home, depending on the distance, and then install the spare alternator once you got the car home. Might save a tow charge if your stuck on the side of a highway.
WD-40 is a water displacement lubricant and should remove the moisture from the belt ribs. In most cases, removing the moisture will stop the squeal. Allow the engine to run for a few minutes, then spray rubber dressing, also known as belt dressing, onto the belt in the same manner employed above.
Usually, you can expect your alternator belt to last 3-4 years. You should have it inspected regularly – a good rule of thumb is to have your mechanic check the alternator belt whenever you have an oil change. Signs that your alternator belt needs to be replaced include: Fraying, cracking or looseness.
Under ideal conditions, a belt should stick with you for an average of 60,000 to 100,000 miles. Pretty impressive. However, some belts are manually tensioned and may need to be adjusted. Others have a self-tensioning mechanism that can experience wear over time and may need to be serviced.
Can bad alternator affect engine performance? … Drops in electrical output from a failing alternator can cause these systems to malfunction, leading to a poorly running engine. Symptoms will be rough idle, misfires, poor acceleration, hesitation and stalling.
Replacing an alternator belt is fairly easy; all you need to get started are the right tools. As always, when starting on a project, it is always a good idea to practice precaution. Make sure that the key is out of the ignition and that the negative battery cable is disconnected before you start.
You can replace a serpentine belt with ordinary hand tools. But we don’t recommend it. The spaces are often tight and the belt-driven devices difficult to reach. … The belt placement tool allowed us to remove and properly place the new belt without reaching down into the pulley area.
Walmart does replace serpentine belts at some Auto Care Centers as of 2021. The price can range from $150 – $200 for replacing the serpentine belt, which includes the belt and labor. It is recommended to call your local Walmart Auto Care Center beforehand to see if the store offers this service.
A V-belt is the rubber belt that drives the alternator, air conditioning compressor, power steering pump and waterpump. It’s called a V-belt because of its “V” shaped cross-section. All belts wear out over time and need to be replaced.
Whether it is sometimes referred to as a fan belt, alternator belt, or water pump belt, it is most properly called an accessory drive belt, V belt, or serpentine belt. Each vehicle has its own belt configuration, depending on its engine and optional accessories.
Belt coming off: Pulley misalignment, belt misalignment on pulley, defective tensioner, or bearing wear in tensioner, idler or driven accessories.
A bad belt tensioner can also lead to the alternator failing to function as designed. The engine’s alternator is meant to power the automobile’s electrical system and also charge the battery while the vehicle is operating.
Dear Anthony: A belt should never be over-tightened. … An over-tightened belt can burn out any bearing that the belt rotates on, including alternator, power steering pump, A/C compressor, idler pulleys, etc. An over-tightened timing belt can ruin any pulley bearing it is connected with.
Under ideal conditions, a belt should stick with you for an average of 60,000 to 100,000 miles. This is all because many cars have one serpentine belt that drives the water pump, the power steering pump, the alternator and the air conditioning compressor, and the fan.
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