Your serpentine belt drives your alternator and air conditioning compressor. The power steering and power brake pumps are driven by the serpentine belt in many vehicles. In some vehicles, the water pump is driven by the serpentine belt (in others it’s driven by the timing belt). The radiator cooling fan on some vehicles are also driven by the serpentine belt. Some have separate electric motors.
Serpentine belts do a lot of work, but they’re tough and can last for thousands of miles, but just how long will they last? That’ll vary for each individual car. Your manufacturer will have a recommendation for when it should be changed, but it could need it sooner. The good news is that a visual inspection can reveal a belt that’s worn.
It’s often recommended that the tensioner pulley that keeps the belt at the proper tension be replaced along with the serpentine belt. This pulley is mounted to the engine block with a spring-loaded arm.
What are the warning signs that there’s a problem with the serpentine belt? You may hear a squealing sound from under the hood when accelerating. A loose belt might give you a slow, slapping sound.
If you suspect a problem with your serpentine belt, or if it’s just been a while since it was last checked, ask your service advisor to have it looked over.
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