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What is a serpentine belt, and when should I change it?

serpentine belt fairview heights illinois

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When it comes to auto repair and automotive maintenance, many of us are lost. While we may be able to change our oil or rotate our tires, some of the finer points of automotive repair still elude us. When someone says the words "serpentine belt," most of us will have no idea what's going on or what it is about. However, fear not – we're here to provide a little information so you can be informed on this auto repair topics. Read more below and always call or contact an experienced auto repair professional if you have questions!

What is a serpentine belt?

A serpentine belt is just that – it’s a belt that’s located on the side of your engine. It wraps around a series of pulleys and when the engine is running, it creates the power needed to run vital components of your vehicle that include the alternator, water pumps, power steering pump, A/C compressor, and more. When your belt is broken, frayed, or otherwise damaged, you’ll notice a problem with multiple systems of your vehicle.

serpentine belt replacement fairview heights illinois

When should it be changed?

While it use to be fairly frequent to change a serpentine belt, newer vehicle technologies have improved upon this component, and many serpentine belts won't start to show signs of wear until after 50,000 miles or even more. However, you should know the signs of a bad serpentine belt and be ready to find repairs if you need them. Here are the warning signs that you should look for:

  • Squealing noises due to a slipping belt
  • Cracks, stretching, fraying and other physical signs of wear
  • Air conditioning failure
  • Power steering failure
  • Alternator failure


How can I change it myself?

You can change this part yourself by locating the proper replacement and finding a diagram of your vehicle’s belt on the internet. However, we only recommend this for people who are experienced with vehicles. These belts are made to go on in a specific way and, if done improperly, could cause even more troubles for you.

When to call a professional

It’s best to call on a professional when you don’t know what you’re doing. This part is relatively inexpensive, and shopping around for the lowest price on service could help you save even more. Additionally, it will take a mechanic 30 minutes, maximum, to complete this repair while it could take up your entire day!

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