What does the drive belt do?
The drive belt (or serpentine belt) is a rubber belt located in your engine that links the crankshaft to several parts of your car. Although some cars have several drive belts, most modern vehicles will only have one. The drive belt is often called the fan belt on older cars, as the crankshaft pulley would drive the radiator cooling fan, water pump and alternator / generator all at once often off the same “fan belt”. If this belt break while driving the engine overheats very quickly causing expensive damage.
In modern vehicles the drive belt is generally connected to your alternator, power steering system and air conditioning system. Its role is to transfer energy in the form of rotation from the engine crankshaft to these components. These components rely on the drive belt and will not work if the drive belt is broken or loose.
Symptoms of a failing drive belt
Due to constant exposure to high and low temperatures, plus the tension force of the drive belt having to drive the auxiliary items (such as alternator, power steering, and air conditioning) the drive belt can eventually crack, split or break. This can cause several noticeable symptoms. These include:
- The steering wheel becoming very difficult to turn. This can be very dangerous if a worn drive belt snaps suddenly while you are driving, as you may lose full control of your steering.
- One or more warning lights on the dash
- Squeaking noises coming from the engine when you turn your steering wheel or turn on electrical loads such as headlights.
- Electrical components such as the air conditioning not functioning correctly (not going hot or cold as expected).
- Reduced battery power, and hard starting of the engine. For example the engine sounds slow to wind over when you go to start, or you here only a clicking noise when you go to start. If the alternator drive belt breaks while you are driving it means that your cars battery may go flat (especially at night with headlights on or in the rain with windscreen wipers on). This means your car could stop while you are driving when you least want it.
- If the drive or fan belt breaks while driving this could lead to overheating of the engine (in vehicles where the drive belt powers the cooling system). This could lead to a very expensive engine repair and major inconvenience, towing expense and possible danger depending when and where it happens.
How often does the drive belt need to be changed?
Drive belts generally last for at least 100,000 km of driving or around every 5 years,
The drive belt itself isn’t always the problem. Many vehicles have a drive belt tensioner which can also break over time and need replacement.
Drive / Serpentine / Fan Belt Replacement in Hamilton
Is your vehicle in need of a drive belt replacement? If so, we’d be happy to help! Our team of skilled, qualified and experienced mechanics, can replace your drive belt and get your vehicle running correctly again quickly.
For reliable drive belt replacements, come to the workshop that has been trusted to reliably and honestly service Hamilton’s vehicles since 1934.