Nothing fills car drivers with dread more than turning the ignition, stepping on the accelerator, and hearing an unexpected noise emanate from somewhere within their vehicle. Sometimes it’s a bang, clang, rattle, rumble, or screech. But in the event it’s ever a squeal, there’s a strong chance it’s time to have your vehicle’s serpentine belt replaced. If you’re a stranger to serpentine belts, here’s everything you need to know.

The serpentine belt, also known as the drive belt, works with the idler, tensioner, and pulleys inside the accessory drive belt system. It provides power for the air conditioning, alternator, power steering, and sometimes the water pump. It is a critical component of your vehicle’s engine system, and if it’s cracked or broken, it’s time to visit to your local auto repair shop.

The good news is a serpentine belt can last up to 50,000 miles or five years, with proper maintenance, before it needs replacing. Heat and friction of normal use slowly wear down the belt before it breaks. You know it’s time to have your belt inspected and replaced when the squealing noise gets louder and louder each trip you take. Don’t forget your serpentine belt doesn’t just break, sometimes that racket might be a signaling your vehicle’s belt has simply slipped or become misaligned. But don’t fret! This is another issue a trusted repair professional can easily diagnose for you. However, if a serpentine belt happens to completely fail/break, that is bad for your vehicle.

Power steering, air conditioning, and engine cooling components will be among the first systems to go. A loss of power steering or engine failure during a trip could pose a major safety hazard to your vehicle’s occupants or others sharing the road, which is why it’s important to have a trusted auto repair shop check your serpentine belt during routine preventative maintenance. So, if you’re having issues with any of these functions in your automobile, a broken/damaged serpentine belt might just be the culprit.

Get in the habit of popping the hood of your vehicle and inspecting the serpentine belt between your visits to your local automotive maintenance facility. The rubber belt measures about an inch wide, and you’ll find it snaking around multiple pulleys within your crankshaft. You probably won’t have to dismantle anything to make your examination. Simply use a flashlight and a hand mirror to check for cracks, fraying, abrasions, and signs of disintegration to the ribs or cords. If you notice any of this damage or need a second expert opinion, make sure to schedule an appointment with your local automobile repair technician. Replacing a worn belt doesn’t take a lot of time and is relatively inexpensive, making it an easy way to ensure the performance and longevity of your vehicle, as well as the safety of everyone inside.

For more than fifty years, Mighty Auto Parts has served the automotive aftermarket by supplying superior, high-quality products and exceptional support to customers from coast-to-coast. No one knows automobiles better than we do.

To learn more about the best care techniques for your vehicle, visit us online at MightyAutoParts.com.