What is a Serpentine Belt?

serpentine belt

Serpentine Belt is a very important part of part or accessories of a car.  It is one accessory, that will affect the performance of several functionality of a vehicle, once it breaks out.  It is essential the proper maintenance is done to make sure that your serpentine belt is in top condition.

Serpentine belt resembles a snake that runs to many parts of an automobile such: crank, idler, alternator, power steering pump, air-con, and water pump.  Serpentine belt keeps those parts function smoothly.

It’s Uses

This refers to a single belt used to drive various components in a car’s engine such as the alternator, power steering pump, water pump, air pump and so on. The belt may be guided by an idler pulley or a belt tension-er that could be spring-loaded, hydraulic or manual. Many BMWs and a few others come with this system.

It is better than the traditional multiple belt system which occupies too much of engine space. The advantage of using a single belt rather than multiple thinner belts is that the belt can be put under much pressure without stretching. This increases the belt’s life and mechanical efficiency.

The one disadvantage with the system, however, is that if the belt fails, then all critical functions fail as well and the vehicle won’t run. The failure of a single component such as air conditioning could cause the failure of the entire system.

Symptoms of Bad Serpentine Belt

  • Air conditioning is not functioning. One of the automobile parts that a serpentine belt runs through is the air conditioning system.  Once the belt is damaged, it also eliminates the full functionality of your air conditioning system.  You will not be getting cool air from your AC.
  • Abnormal noise on the front side of the car. A misaligned or broken serpentine belt will cause an alarming noise in your cars front side.  If may just be a case of misalignment and its just easy to fix it.  However, it may also be a broken serpentine belt that causes it.  You really need to replace it.
  • Steering problem. Serpentine belts contribute to the power steering capability of your vehicle.  Once the serpentine belt is damage, steering your vehicle will be much more
  • the serpentine belt runs through your water pump and causes it to cool down the engine.  with a damaged serpentine belt, the water pump will not be activated, that will cause overheat of your engine. Ignoring this problem will result in a damaged engine.
  • Cracks in the belt. Cracks in the belt is a symptom that it needs replacement.  It is a bad idea to drive your car long distance, with a damage serpentine belt.

Serpentine Belts Broke Can I Drive?

Yes, it is still possible to drive for a short distance when your serpentine belt is damage.  However, after a short while, you need to stop, to avoid damaging your engine and to avoid accident.  Overheat engines and damage steering wheel is dangerous and impossible to ignore.  For a short distance, you can still drive your car, just to park it properly to safety.

What Happens If a Serpentine Belt Breaks?

when this happens while you are driving, you will experience the following:

  1. The hardness of turning your steering wheel.  The serpentine belt will enable to power steering your vehicle.  It allows easy and smooth steering.  Once it breaks out, you will notice the hardness in managing your steering wheel.  Much more in bigger cars and if the driver is not used to it, it will contribute to accidents and more damage to the car.
  2. The temperature of your engine will rise up. One of the functions of the serpentine belt is to activate the water pump that cools down the engine.  When the engine overheats, the engine will be damaged.  and once the engine is damaged, it will cause you a lot financially.  so, better maintain proper preventive maintenance of your car, that should include checking your serpentine belt.
  3. You will notice malfunction of your air conditioning system.  Cold air will not come out from the AC.  This will uncomfortably inside the car and the option for you is to open your windows.

Serpentine Belts vs Timing Belts

A serpentine belt is a very long belt that can be found outside the engine.  It powers on many important accessories of your car and such as AC, water pump and steering wheel.  While the timing belt, on the other hand, is located inside your engine.It allows the camshaft to function well and close/open the intake valve and exhaust valve, to avoid it being hit by the piston.

In some engines, it helps run the oil and water pump of an engine.  Timing belts are made to last.

A damaged timing belt while the car is moving, will cause a more expensive repair, compared to the damage caused by a damage serpentine belt.

Benefits of Serpentine Belt

having a good or properly maintained it will bring you more benefits:

  • Full functionality. You will enjoy the full functionality of your car’s accessories when you have a good conditioned serpentine belt. And you will enjoy a very relax and comfortable drive.  You are confident that you will reach your destination on time and safe.
  • Safety of passengers. The serpentine belt will power your steering wheel and allow easy and soft turning in curves. Once you have a good serpentine belt, steering your car is easier and safer.  This will minimize accidents caused by faulty steering wheel.
  • Comfortably and luxury. a good serpentine belt will power up your air conditioning system and being so, will produce cold air. This will bring an environment of comfort and relax.
  • Road worthiness. Road worthiness of your car is most important to consider. Its contribute to it.
  • maintaining your serpentine belt will eliminate damage to the engine and the car in general. This will result in big savings for you.

Serpentine belt may not be the most important part of your car, but, it functions as the heart of several accessories of your car.  Once it is damaged or breaks out, it will cause a lot of damages and will complicate to the many important accessories.

Mahfuj Zuberi

Hey everyone! I’m  M R Zubery and I’ve been working as an auto mechanic for over a decade. So, I am write about auto parts for different brands. Highlight the good and bad aspects of different brands in my articles. Also, I write about how to install auto parts and how to use them. I always try to benefit the reader. Read my article and stay tuned. Thank you.

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