7 Symptoms of a Bad Serpentine Belt (and Replacement Cost)

Some parts of your car are necessary for the proper functioning of many functions. The serpentine belt is one of them.

But how do you know if the serpentine belt has deteriorated?

In this article, you will find the most common symptoms of a bad serpentine belt, the location, and the cost of replacement. Let’s start with the signs to look for.

The most common symptom of a bad serpentine belt is a warning light on the dashboard. You may also notice loud steering noises or squeaks coming from the belt. If you see a lot of cracks in the belt, it’s time to change it.

Remember that your car may have two or more serpentine belts which may cause some functions to work while others do not. Remember to check all belts if you are trying to look for signs of damage.

Due to the importance of the serpentine belt, you may experience many symptoms when it deteriorates or comes off. Here is a more detailed list of the 7 most common symptoms of a bad serpentine belt.

Bad Serpentine Belt Symptoms

1. Warning lights on the dashboard

battery alternator light

The first thing you may find imminently if your serpentine belt is damaged or completely broken are the warning lights on your dashboard. You will most likely notice the battery light when the serpentine belt powers the alternator, and if it goes off, the warning light will appear.

You may also notice other warning lights, such as a power steering warning light or a hydraulic pressure warning light.

2. Heavy steering

heavy steering

The serpentine belt in most cars powers the power steering pump. This will cause the power steering pump to shut off if the serpentine belt becomes completely loose.

You’ll notice this because the steering becomes very heavy if it’s not working—so heavy that it can actually be dangerous.

However, most newer cars have an electric power steering pump and in this case, you won’t notice the heavy steering from a broken serpentine belt.

3. Cracked Serpentine Belt

Cracked Serpentine Belt

The most notable symptom of a bad serpentine belt is that cracks begin to appear in the belt. You can often see this directly by inspecting the belt. Some cracks can occur quite quickly even if the belt is not completely worn out, but it is definitely time to replace it if it is full of cracks.

4. Squeaking noises

Check noise under the hood E1609791600132

If your serpentine belt is not yet broken but is starting to deteriorate, you may hear squeaking noises coming from the belt. This especially happens when you put a load on the belt, such as when driving, so the power steering pump has to work.

You can test this by starting many electronic consumers such as headlights, radios, heaters, etc. Doing so will make the alternator work harder, and if you hear an even louder grinding noise, there may be something wrong with your belt.

Most new car models have an automatic tensioner for the serpentine belt, but some older ones have a manual tensioner, which may require you to tension the belt to get it to fit properly and stop squeaking.

RELATED: Idler Pulley Noise: Common Reasons and Information

5. The air conditioning does not work

No AC cooling

The serpentine belt also powers the air conditioning pump, and if the belt breaks, you may notice that your car’s air conditioning has stopped working completely.

The AC pump often has its own smaller serpentine belt for the AC pump only on many car models, but not all. If you have a separate belt for the air conditioning pump and it fails, everything else can work except the air conditioning.

6. Cooling system overheating

Engine overheating on the highway

Many car models have the water pump driven by the serpentine belt. This applies more to older car models, but many newer cars have their water pump driven by the serpentine belt, although the water pump in many car models is driven by the timing belt or chain.

However, if the serpentine belt drives the water pump and becomes loose, your car’s coolant will stop flowing and your car’s engine will overheat very quickly. This is fatal for your engine, and if you notice that the temperature is rising, you should stop immediately; Otherwise, you risk damage like a bad head gasket or worse.

7. The car engine stops completely

dead car after road

A car engine always needs an alternator to charge electricity to the car battery. If not charged, your car will die when the car battery runs out of electricity.

If the serpentine belt becomes loose, the alternator will no longer charge electricity and if you continue driving, your car’s engine will stop running after a while. If your car battery light is on, you should definitely park your car and check what is wrong.

Serpentine belt location

Serpentine belt location

The serpentine belt is located at the front of the engine because it is driven by the crankshaft pulley.

Remember that the front of your engine is not always the same as the front of the car. Your car can also be mounted sideways, meaning your car is located near the right side of your car in most cases.

Serpentine Belt Replacement Cost

The average serpentine belt replacement cost is $60 to $150, depending on car model and labor costs. A serpentine belt costs $20 to $50 and labor costs $40 to $100.

However, what should be mentioned is that usually when replacing the serpentine belt, you often want to replace certain pulleys and the automatic tensioner if your car has one. It can be an extra $50 to $150.

It is recommended to check all pulleys and tensioners when replacing the belt to ensure they are working and in good condition; Otherwise, they could cause your new belt to fail again very soon.


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