Today's auto maintenance article focuses on your serpentine belt. Your serpentine belt is a long belt that's driven by your engine. It winds around several accessories that power important automotive systems. Let's go over them.
First, the serpentine belt drives your air conditioning system. It spins the compressor that makes the cool air that takes the edge off the summer heat in .
Next, the belt powers the alternator. The alternator creates electricity that's used by your 's electrical systems and also charges your car battery. All drivers know that without the alternator, the battery will go dead in a few miles.
The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering and power brakes. And, on many s, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within normal operating temperatures as you drive around .
Now on some s, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt. So you can see the serpentine belt does a lot of work. And it if breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That's why manufacturers and your service advisor at have recommended that it be changed every so often so that it doesn't fail.
Your service technician can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon and will measure the amount of belt material to make sure there is enough.
There's a special, spring loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley. Its job is to make sure there's a constant tension on the serpentine belt so that it doesn't slip. The spring can become worn and no longer provide the necessary pressure to keep the belt tight. At , we recommend that the tensioner be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.
All in all, the serpentine belt's an important part for the function of your . And it's not that expensive to replace in - so it's good to do so before it fails.