Everything You Need to Know About Belt Maintenance and Repair

The serpentine belt, also known as the drive belt, is responsible for connecting the alternator, power steering, AC, and other important components to the crankshaft. The crankshaft is part of the engine and provides power to the alternator. The crankshaft may also provide power to the water pump in some cars.

Over time, the drive belt will develop wear and tear because of the heat caused by the engine. Eventually, the belt will break, making steering difficult. For cars in which the water pump is also controlled by the crankshaft, breakage of the drive belt can cause the engine to overheat, which may result in serious problems for your vehicle.

With proper maintenance at Mavis Tires and Brakes, you can protect your car from serious damage and save yourself some money on repairs.

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Basic Belt Maintenance

To increase the longevity of your car's serpentine belt, there are a few basic maintenance tips you should be aware of.

  • Know where your belt is located. The exact location of the serpentine belt may vary depending on the car. For most cars, the belt will be located at the front of the engine. When checking the belt, always make sure the car is switched off and cooled down.

  • Your belt should be inspected with each oil change. The technicians at Mavis will normally check the belt to ensure no significant damage has occurred. However, checking it yourself is fairly straightforward.

  • Make sure the belt is aligned on the pulleys correctly. If the belt slips off the pulleys, your car may not run properly or important components may lose power.

  • Check your belt tensioner. The tensioner regulates the amount of tension placed on the belt to make sure it stays on the pulleys. If the tension is loose, the belt can slip off the pulleys and cause components powered by the belt to lose power.

  • Know the important rule of thumb. If there are more than three cracks in a one-inch space on the belt, it's time to replace it.

  • One belt usually lasts 60,000-100,000 miles. Belts don't need to be changed often unless they are getting old or have sustained damage.

Warning Signs

Make sure you know how to tell if your belt is at risk of breaking. You may want to call your local Mavis or check your belt if you notice any of the following warning signs:

  • Squealing noise coming from the engine

  • Check battery light is on

  • Grooves, frays, or cracks in the belt

  • Slick or weak spots in the belt

  • Rubber peeling off the belt

  • Steam or vapor coming from underneath the hood

  • Other signs of engine overheating