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Services > Auto Q & A > Serpentine Belt

Question: How do serpentine belts work?

Answer: A Serpentine Belt is a multi-ribbed belt that powers almost everything in the front of your engine. The Serpentine Belt’s name comes from its resemblance to a snake, or serpent, in the way it wraps itself around so many different pulleys. It powers the crankshaft, which controls your engine’s pistons; power steering; alternator, which generates the electrical currents to power everything electrical in the car; air conditioner; and the water pump, just to name a few. The water pump may be the most important part powered by the Serpentine Belt. The water pump is an integral part of your engine’s cooling system. If your engine’s water pump failed, the engine could overheat and cease to operate. Older vehicles used to use several belts to drive all of your engine’s parts. Now, a single Serpentine Belt can handle all of these jobs.

Question: Why do serpentine belts have to be replaced?

Answer: Your vehicle cannot operate if your Serpentine Belt breaks. The Serpentine Belt is needed to drive many engine functions, such as power steering and your water pump. If your belt breaks, you may be able to drive your vehicle for a very short distance before your engine fails from overheating. Steering will also be very difficult at low speeds since your power steering will be inoperable.

Question: When should serpentine belts be replaced?

Answer: Serpentine Belts don’t last forever. They will eventually wear with extended use and should occasionally be inspected. To inspect your Serpentine Belt, wait for your engine to cool completely, pop your hood and look for any damage, such as fraying or cracking, on your belt. Also, check that the belt is securely on all of its pulleys. If the belt appears to be damaged or loose, have it replaced as soon as possible to prevent any further damage.If you are experiencing difficulty turning at low speeds, your power steering may be failing due to a loose or damaged Serpentine Belt. If this happens, check your belt or have your vehicle’s belt inspected by a professional.It is recommended that your Serpentine Belt be replaced every 60,000 miles. To be on the safe side, whenever you change your engine’s oil, give your Serpentine Belt a check to make sure it is in good condition. It is much easier to catch a damaged belt early and have it replaced, than it is to have your engine fail while you are driving.