The Serpentine Belt: Your Car’s Vital Multitasker
Your car has a snake in it. Okay, not a real one – but it does have a serpentine belt, whose name comes from how the belt snakes around many different engine components. Because of its high performance and broad scope of functionality, the serpentine belt is something you’ll want to make sure is in working order. At Kennedy Transmission, we’re here to keep you on the road.
It’s a Jack-of-All-Trades
Winding its way around underneath your hood, the serpentine belt supports many critical components. These are the common accessories that rely on the serpentine belt:
- Alternator: Did you know your battery will only last a few hours on its own – especially when you need your headlights? The alternator is responsible for recharging the battery while you drive; so you can listen to the radio, have your lights on, and use your windshield wipers all at the same time.
- A/C compressor: While it’s possible to drive without this, it could be extremely unbearable.
- Power steering: Your parents or grandparents may remember a time when simply turning their car was a workout. Thanks to power steering, you don’t have to put nearly as much muscle into it to take a curve.
- Power brake pumps: This allows you to brake more easily and quickly; without it, you’d have to start braking from 500 ft. away. Talk about a slow commute!
- Water pump: You know you should replace your coolant every so often to prevent your car from overheating. The water pump circulates that coolant to the engine.
- Radiator cooling fans: Like its name says, these chill the coolant as it passes through the radiator.
That’s a lot for just one belt, especially because these functions are imperative to making your car do its job. If a serpentine belt brakes while you’re driving, it’s very important to pull over as soon as you can; otherwise, you’re risking very serious engine damage and a much more costly repair.
Even Tough Belts Wear Down
Manufacturers know how important this belt is – so it’s built to last. But with all things car-related, wear and tear happens, and replacement is necessary. The serpentine belt should be included in your manufacturer’s recommended service interval schedule, but a visual inspection is all you need to determine if it needs replacement ahead of time. Some signs to look for are:
- More than three or four cracks per inch
- Deep cracks through more than half the width of the belt
- Fraying and missing pieces
- A shiny, glazed surface
How long they’ll last until this point varies based on your manufacturer, driving use, and operating conditions. If you hear a squealing noise when accelerating or a slapping sound when idling, it may be time to check the belt. If you’re unsure, one of our expert service technicians can take a peek for you.
Let Kennedy Transmission Keep Your Serpentine Belt Slithering
If your belt does need replacing, we’ve got your back. To replace the belt, we’ll remove the old one and fit a new one on its tracks. We will also adjust the tensioner pulley to prevent the belt from slipping off. That’s it!
Find your nearest Kennedy Transmission service location to get in, get out and leave with a functioning serpentine belt for many miles to come.