The serpentine belt may seem like a simple component, but it is actually a very important component which helps operate many other vital components in your vehicle.
It is basically one long continuous belt which drives several peripheral devices associated with the internal combustion engine, including the water pump, alternator, air pump, air conditioning compressor, power steering pump, and so on. A belt tensioner and idler pulley are typically used to guide the serpentine belt as it drives these devices.
As you can see, the serpentine belt has an important job to do in your vehicle. If the belt were to ever wear out or malfunction, it would cause all those other peripheral devices to stop working as well. Then your vehicle would be incapable of functioning at all.
5 Bad Symptoms
The serpentine belt takes a while before it completely stops functioning. In the meantime, the slow wear and tear of the belt will become noticeable because certain symptoms will present themselves. If you can recognize these symptoms early enough, then you can take your vehicle to an auto mechanic and have them replace the belt before the symptoms get any worse.
Below are the top 5 symptoms of a bad serpentine belt in your car.
1) Squealing Noises
There are lots of reasons why your vehicle might make squealing noises. But if you hear those squealing noises coming from the front of your vehicle, then it might be due to a misaligned serpentine belt. Perhaps the belt slipped off its track and is banging into other components while its moving continuously. In this case, it won’t take much to fix the problem. You can just get the serpentine belt realigned back on its normal track. However, if you notice cracks or other signs of damage on the belt, then you’d be better off replacing it altogether.
2) Air Conditioning Doesn’t Work
The air conditioner depends on the serpentine belt to stay functional. A bad serpentine belt means you’ll have trouble with your air conditioner. At first, you’ll notice the air coming out of the vents to be less cool than usual. But as the serpentine belt continues to wear down, the air conditioner will eventually fail to cool the air at all. Then you’ll have only warm air coming out of the vents.
3) Visible Signs of Wear or Damage
If you suspect the serpentine belt is causing you problems with your vehicle, then pop open the hood in the front and examine the serpentine belt up closely. Do you see any signs of damage, such as cracks? If you do, there is no question that the serpentine belt is responsible for all the problems you’ve been experiencing. Simply replace the serpentine belt immediately to put an end to those problems.
4) Power Steering Issues
The power steering system cannot function normally without a strong serpentine belt. You need a functional power steering system in order to steer the vehicle without any difficulty. In other words, when you go to turn the steering wheel, the rotations of the wheel will feel smooth if you have a functional power steering system. But if the system does not work properly because of a bad serpentine belt, then it’ll be more difficult to rotate the steering wheel.
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5) Overheated Engine
The water pump is activated by the serpentine belt. The internal combustion engine depends on the water pump in order to stay cooled down. However, a bad serpentine belt will cause your water pump to be deactivated. As a result, your engine won’t get cooled down by the water pump. Heat will start building up very quickly in the engine until it gets to an overheated state. You’ll know it is overheated because the temperature gauge will have the needle in the red zone.