Serpentine belt, also known as auxiliary drive belt, is a drive belt that works with the idlers, tensioners and pulleys within the accessory drive belt system and started becoming more common during the 90s. Serpentine belt issues usually result from a defective tensioner, misalignment or simply getting old. Here are the top causes of serpentine belt failure and how to spot these issues early to prevent further damage to your vehicle.
Top causes of serpentine belt failure:
- Age and Wear: Over time, serpentine belts can wear out naturally. Even when it’s not in use, it is still exposed to the atmosphere and is degrading. Also, environmental factors such as extreme heat and the exposure to friction and tension can cause the rubber to become brittle and crack.
- Misalignment pulleys or tensioner: If the belt is not properly aligned on the pulleys, it can wear unevenly or slip off entirely, leading to its premature failure. This situation usually happens if some of the components have been previously removed, replaced, and not returned in to place properly.
- Incorrect Tension: There’s a lot to be said about the damage that can be caused from the incorrect tension. If the belt is too tight or too loose, it can wear out prematurely. This is critical to its proper functioning: If it’s too loose, it will slip, leading to the underperformance of engine accessories and causing all sorts of problems. If it is too tight can put unnecessary stress causing them to wear out faster.
- Fluid Leaks: Coolant, power steering fluid, or oil leaks can also affect the belt causing slipping and damage to the belt surface. This may result into power steering or water pump not working.
- Worn or damaged Components: If the air-conditioning compressor, the power steering pump, the water pump, or the alternator, driven by the serpentine belt, become faulty, this will affect directly to the belt leading to premature failure.
How to prevent serpentine belt failure?
There are many ways to prevent a serpentine belt failure. One is to keep the engine bay clean and well lubricated. But take into account not to be tempted to apply any lubricant to the belt which will cause it to slip. Besides, it is important to check the tension of the belt to make sure that it’s in perfect condition.
Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual and find out when your recommended car maintenance services should be scheduled. We always recommend service replacement schedules to protect the engine and safe operation of the vehicle.
Also, pay attention for key warning signs of a failing serpentine belt, including:
- Squeaking or chirping noise from under the hood of the car.
- Engine light or battery light signal on your car dashboard.
- Air Condicioning isn’t working.
- Power steering isn’t working.
- Engine overheating.
Maybe you are interested: What does a car’s auxiliary drive belt do and why should you care?
It is essential to understand that all components of the auxiliary drive system must work optimally together.
To summarise, the most common cause is age-related cracking. Practically, every part in a vehicle would fail after a long time. That is why you need to keep up with maintenance and servicing to keep every component in good shape.
If you keep having problems with your serpentine belt, it’s best to take your car to a mechanic so they can diagnose the issue and fix it.
All in all, do regular maintenance, early detection and use quality spare parts are critical to extending the life of your auxiliary drive system and contributes significantly to the overall health and performance of your car.
DOLZ is an Automotive Aftermarket parts manufacturer that has been providing top-notch, OE-equivalent parts for passenger cars, trucks and commercial vehicles since 1934. With nearly 90 years of knowledge and experience, our presence has now expanded to more than 70 countries around the world.
Get in touch with us if you’ve run into any of the issues mentioned above and obtain personalized advice to choose the best option for replacements.