7 Symptoms Of A Bad Serpentine Belt

The common symptoms of a bad serpentine belt, include warning lights on the dashboard, loss of power steering and AC, fraying, cracking, splitting or glazing, squealing noise, engine stalling, and overheating. Prevent costly repairs by identifying the problems early.
symptoms of a bad serpentine belt

The serpentine belt is a critical part of your car’s engine, as it is responsible for driving multiple accessories such as the power steering, air conditioning, and charging system. A malfunctioning serpentine belt can lead to a variety of problems, from a simple loss of power steering to a complete engine shutdown.

Being aware of the symptoms of a bad serpentine belt can help you identify problems early and avoid costly repairs. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the most common symptoms of a bad serpentine belt, as well as some of the potential causes and what you can do to prevent these problems.

What Are the Symptoms of A Bad Serpentine Belt?

Here are signs that you may need a new serpentine belt:

symptoms of a bad serpentine belt

1. Warning Lights on the Dashboard.

One of the most common symptoms of a bad serpentine belt is the turn-on of warning lights on the dashboard. If the serpentine belt is not functioning properly, it can cause the “check engine” or “battery” warning lights to come on.

This is because the serpentine belt is responsible for driving the alternator, which charges the battery and powers the electrical system. If the belt is not turning the alternator, the battery will not be charged and the electrical system will not have power, resulting in the activation of the warning lights.

Related Posts: What Is a Serpentine Belt? – What You Need to Know

2. Power Steering and AC Not Working.

Another symptom of a bad serpentine belt is a loss of power steering and air conditioning. This is because the serpentine belt is also responsible for driving the power steering pump and the air conditioning compressor.

If the belt is not turning these components, the power steering will become difficult to turn and the air conditioning will not blow cold air.

3. Serpentine Belt Shows Signs of Fraying, Cracking, Splitting, Or Glazing.

Over time, a serpentine belt can become worn, which can cause it to show signs of wear such as fraying, cracking, splitting, or glazing.

This is caused by heat, oil, and debris that can damage the belt. Fraying and cracking can cause the belt to become weaker and more likely to break, which can cause the engine to stall or not start at all.

Glazing is a shiny and smooth surface caused by belt slip, heat, and pressure. It’s a sign that the belt is not gripping the pulleys correctly.

Serpentine Belt Shows Signs of Fraying, Cracking, Splitting, Or Glazing

4. Squealing Noise from The Front of The Vehicle.

A serpentine belt that is loose or worn can make a squealing noise when the engine is running. The noise is typically caused by a lack of tension on the belt, which can be caused by a worn or stretched belt, or a problem with the tensioner or pulley.

When a serpentine belt is loose, it can slip on the pulleys, causing a high-pitched squealing noise. The noise may be more pronounced when the engine is first started, or when the air conditioning or power steering is being used.

The first step to diagnosing a squealing noise from the front of the vehicle is to visually inspect the serpentine belt. Look for signs of wear, such as fraying, cracking, or splitting. Also, check the tension of the belt. If the belt is loose, the tensioner or pulley may be worn or damaged. In this case, the belt, tensioner, and pulley will likely need to be replaced.

5. Engine Stalls.

A serpentine belt that has broken can cause the engine to stall. This happens because the serpentine belt powers many of the engine’s accessories, including the alternator, power steering pump, and air conditioning compressor.

When the belt breaks, these accessories will stop working, and the engine will stall as a result. In some cases, the engine may not start at all if the serpentine belt has completely broken.

6. Engine Overheating.

A serpentine belt that is not turning the water pump can cause the engine to overheat. The water pump is responsible for circulating coolant through the engine, which helps to keep the engine cool.

When the serpentine belt is not functioning properly, the water pump will not turn, and the coolant will not circulate. This can cause the engine to overheat and can lead to serious damage if not addressed promptly.

7. Black Smoke from the Exhaust.

A serpentine belt that is not turning the air pump can cause black smoke to come from the exhaust. The air pump is responsible for pumping fresh air into the exhaust system, which helps to reduce emissions.

When the serpentine belt is not functioning properly, the air pump will not turn, and the engine will not receive enough fresh air. This can cause the air-fuel mixture to become imbalanced, which can lead to black smoke from the exhaust.

How Long Does a Serpentine Belt Last?

A serpentine belt is made of rubber, it is a durable component and can last for a significant amount of miles. However, the life of a serpentine belt is dependent on several factors such as the quality of the belt, the type of vehicle, and the driving conditions.

Generally, a serpentine belt can last anywhere from around 50,000 to 100,000 miles. This means that under normal driving conditions, a serpentine belt can last for several years.

However, if the vehicle is driven in harsh conditions, such as extreme heat or cold, or if the belt is not properly tensioned, it may wear out sooner. It’s recommended to check the belt’s condition during regular service checkups to know the best time for a replacement.

Related Posts: How To Replace a Serpentine Belt?

Additionally, it is important to note that a serpentine belt is a wear-and-tear item and it will need to be replaced at some point, so it’s essential to keep an eye on its condition and replace it when necessary. This will help ensure that the belt is functioning properly and that the engine components it drives are working correctly.

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