Paying Attention to Your Serpentine Belt

When it comes to servicing our cars, we generally think of oil changes, brake service, and tire changes. However, it’s also important to learn a little bit about what goes on under the hood, as it can save you a potentially massive headache later on.

Serpentine belts are a big part of what makes your car go and checking up on them is easier than you might think. You don’t need to become an expert mechanic, but it’s important to know how to find it and when to recognize that it’s time to change yours out.

What is a Serpentine Belt?

The Serpentine Belt is a winding rubber belt that keeps systems like your power steering, air conditioning, water pump, and alternator working. You will recognize it when you pop the hood as it is typically sitting in front or alongside your engine bay.

Why is it Important?

Other than managing the previously managed systems, if it breaks you could end up causing massive damage to your engine, rendering your car useless.

When to Replace It. And How to Maintain It.

Generally there are warning signs that your belt is about to break so that you have some time to get it replaced. If you start hearing a chirp or squealing sound, it means that the belt is beginning to slip. You will also start having significant system performance failures like sudden battery drainage or power steering loss.

Serpentine belts typically last between 50,000 and 100,000 miles, but there are things you can do to ensure they last. As weather shifts between extreme hot and cold occur throughout the year, the rubber on the belt can dry out and crack. But you can take a little bit of WD-40 and spray it directly on to the belt while the engine is on. It doesn’t take more than 30 seconds to do and ensures that you are safe to drive.

Do yourself a favor and check your serpentine belt from time to time. Assessing and maintaining it is super quick and doing so can prevent much bigger problems from coming down on you.

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