What Noise Does Your Serpentine Belt Make?

Since you are reading this, you likely already know that your vehicle may have a serpentine belt that can wear down with age or get damaged. Typically, this belt needs to be replaced sometime between every 50,000 and 100,000 miles. Knowing what to listen for when a serpentine belt has gone bad can help you to correct the problem quickly.

Car Repair, Car Workshop, Car Serpentine Belt, Lifestyle
What Noise Does Your Serpentine Belt Make?

The Serpentine Belt

Before addressing how to fix serpentine belts, it is helpful to understand what they do. Your car or truck creates rotational energy when the pistons move the crankshaft. Most of that energy is transferred through the drivetrain to the wheels. However, some of it is used to run other components of the vehicle such as the alternator, steering pump, water pump and more.

The power for these components is transferred from the engine through a belt. Since this belt is run from the engine to multiple other components, often zig-zagging around them, it is called a serpentine belt. For the most part, it can just be left to run but occasionally must be tightened with a tensioner or replaced.

Signs of a Bad Serpentine Belt

If your serpentine belt needs a servicing, one of the first signs is often squealing coming from the engine compartment. Under normal circumstances, the serpentine belt should operate almost completely noiselessly. You should not be able to hear it while driving or standing next to the vehicle.

Squealing does not necessarily indicate that the belt needs to be replaced, it may just need to be tightened using the tensioner. However, the noise does indicate that the belt is slipping, a problem that should be resolved.

Other issues include a noticeable drop in power in the auxiliary system of the car. Perhaps your power steering seems less responsive and harder to turn than normal. You may also notice that your air conditioning runs less effectively.

Fixing the Issue

Examine the serpentine belt. Look for wear and tear such as cracks, separation or other damage. If it is damaged, the belt likely needs to be replaced. If it isn’t, you may be able to rectify the issue by adjusting it with a belt tensioner tool kit. Also, examine the tensioner bearing, which can become worn and may need to be replaced.

If you need to replace the belt, the process can be time-consuming, but anyone can learn to do it. These are the steps:
1. Make sure to note the path of the belt before removing it. It will need to be placed in the same position.
2. Loosen the tensioner to release the belt. Lift it out.
3. Install the replacement belt following the exact path of the original belt.
4. Tighten the system by adjusting the belt tensioner. This will require a torque wrench

Check that it is right by letting the engine idles while you watch. 

Get Started: The serpentine belt replacement cost at a mechanic can be high. So, learning to do it yourself could help you save a significant amount of money. With a few tools and a little patience, you could do it all yourself.

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