Easy step by step guide on how an automotive serpentine belt works, this information pertains
to most vehicles.
- A serpentine belt's function is to supply
power to the steering system, water pump, air conditioner and alternator. When the
serpentine belt fails it will almost always render the vehicle inoperable; power
steering operation, alternator and water pump functions stop working.
Step 2 - A serpentine belt is a normal service
item that must be replaced when worn (glazed) or cracked.
Step 3 - The tensioner automatically holds the
proper tension on the belt so there is no need for re-tightening like in older models.
If the belt is loose, the tensioner has failed or the wrong belt size has been installed.
A tensioner should be about half way between its throw to hold proper tension on
Cracked Serpentine Belt
There are several names used to describe a serpentine belt, including: drive
belt, poly-v belt, multi-rib, and micro-v belt. These belts are designed with several
"v" grooves which provides better traction for the drive and components pulleys
than traditional single "v" belts. When the belt tensioner starts to fail it will
allow the serpentine belt to get misaligned causing the belt to come off, the belt
can be damaged in this event.
On rare occasions, an engine can buck or jerk on start up which can suddenly
cause a belt to jump out of place.
Typically most people are able to replace a serpentine belt with basic automotive
tools and repair knowledge.
Use a flashlight to perform a complete visual inspection of the serpentine belt,
look for fraying, cracking or large pieces missing. When replacing the belt inspect
all belt pulleys for damage or rough spots that will effect the new belt. Regular
replacement of this belt will help prevent breakdowns.
Serpentine Belt Tensioner
Article first published 2016-02-04