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7 Signs Of A Defective Serpentine Belt

The purpose of the serpentine belt is to transfer power to various parts of your car. Therefore, a dysfunctional belt can lead to several problems. We cover several issues that could lead to a serpentine belt that is not working properly.

There are several parts in your car that are needed in order for your car to function. One of those parts happens to be the serpentine belt. As the belt is the part we will be addressing in this article, it’s important you know when the belt is not working properly and must be replaced.

A major sign of a bad serpentine belt is the warning light on your dashboard coming on. You may also hear squealing noises and find it difficult to steer. While examining the belt, you might find a lot of cracks on it, that’s when the belt should be replaced.

Keep in mind, your car probably has two or more serpentine belts allowing other components to operate correctly. You will have to check all the belts when looking for any damage.

Because the serpentine belt is a critical part of your car’s performance, there are several problems you might encounter when it stops functioning or breaks. Here is a list of signs that the belt is no longer working and should be replaced.

Dysfunctional Serpentine Belts

Car Warning Light

1- The Warning Lights On Your Dashboard Lights Up

The first sign will probably be the warning lights turning on if the belt is damaged or has snapped off. You will also notice the battery light coming on because the serpentine belt powers the alternator so if it stops, the light will illuminate.

Other lights that might turn on would be for the power steering or hydraulic pressure.

2- Difficulty Steering

In most cars, the serpentine belt provides power to the steering pump. If the pump stops operating, you will have a great deal of difficulty steering because the belt has more than likely snapped off. It can be so hard to steer, it could be very dangerous.

Newer cars have an electric power steering pump so you will not notice heavy steering from a snapped serpentine belt.

3- A Cracked Serpentine Belt

The most prominent sign of a dysfunctional serpentine belt will be cracks forming on the belt. Usually, you will see these cracks when you inspect the belt. Some of these cracks can form very quickly even if the belt is not worn out. A thorough inspection is required and if any cracks are forming, it’s time to replace it

4- Squealing Sounds

Even if the belt is still in place and has not snapped off, it could be going bad. You will probably hear squealing sounds coming from the belt. This often happens when you are putting a load on the belt such as steering because the steering pump must work.

You can test this by starting other electrical components like the radio, headlights, heaters, etc. When you do, you are making the alternator work even harder. If you hear higher squealing sounds, there is something wrong with the serpentine belt.

Newer cars have an automatic tensioner for the serpentine belt but older cars have a manual tensioner. You might have to apply tension to the belt to get it corrected and stop the squealing.

5- Your Air Condition Is Not Working

The serpentine belt also powers the air conditioning pump and if the belt has snapped your car’s air conditioner will stop working altogether.

In many cases, the air conditioning pump has its own smaller serpentine belt designed just for the air conditioning pump. If you do have a separate belt for the air conditioning and it stops working, everything else might still go right on working except for the air conditioning.

6- An Overheating Cooling System

Car Overheating

Many car models have a water pump powered by the serpentine belt. This is more common in older models of cars while newer models have the water pump powered by the serpentine belt. There are many car models that have water pumps driven by the timing belt or chain.

If the serpentine belt operates your water pump and it snaps off, the coolant in your car will stop flowing, causing your engine to overheat very quickly. This will lead to serious damage to your engine. If you see the temperature rising, stop driving immediately! You will be risking serious damage to the head gasket or something even worse.

7- Your Car’s Engine Completely Stops Operating

Your car’s engine must have an alternator to charge electricity to the battery. If it stops charging, your car will die when the battery runs out of power.

If the serpentine belt snaps off, the alternator will not charge electricity and if you continue to drive, your engine will stop running. If your car battery light comes on, you should immediately park your car and find out what’s wrong.

The Location Of The Serpentine Belt

Mechanic At Work

To find the serpentine belt, look on the front of the engine where the crankshaft pulley powers it.

It’s recommended to check all pulleys and tensioners when replacing the belt to ensure they are all functioning and in good condition. If you don’t, it could cause your new belt to become damaged very quickly.

The serpentine belt plays a very important role in the overall operations of various components in your car. If you do not heed warnings from the dashboard, from unusual sounds, etc, you could be in for some very unpleasant problems. If you are hearing strange sounds or components are not operating properly, check it out. If you are not mechanically inclined, take your car to your technician and have it checked out.

You can book your car or van in for a service, repair or MOT, use the simple form below or give us a call at one of our branches, Oldham 0161 624 5060, Heywood on 01706 622633, Bury 0161 761 3030 and our Oldham Van Centre 0161 628 5270.

As mentioned above we also offer a highly convenient Collect & Return service or a Courtesy Car to ensure your routine is disrupted as little as possible while your vehicle is serviced, repaired or undergoes an MOT.

Arranging Your Service

Drop your car off
Simply drop your car off with us between 8am and 10am and in most cases your vehicle will be ready for collection the same day between 3.30 and 5.30. Outside these hours you are welcome to park.

Wait with your car
Most servicing and repair work can be done while you wait. If this is your preference we have a superb waiting area equipped with free hot and cold drinks and a interesting viewing area where you can watch our trained technicians working on your vehicle.

Courtesy car
If your vehicle needs to stay with us for 1 day or longer then you are able to pre-book one of our courtesy vehicles to keep you mobile.

Pick up / drop off
The ultimate hassle free solution; one of our drivers will arrange to collect your vehicle from your home or place of work at a pre-arranged time and then return your vehicle when the work is complete. Our service advisors will contact you when the vehicle arrives on site during the day to discuss the progress of the work and then advise you of the time you can expect your vehicle back. Contact our service advisors for more details.

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7 Signs Of A Defective Serpentine Belt

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