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What is an alternator belt & what does it do?

August 25, 2022

Your alternator is one of the most crucial parts in your vehicle’s assembly – regulated and supported by your car’s alternator belt. Knowing about how your alternator belt functions and signs of a loose alternator belt can help you to prolong the life of your vehicle. 

Whether you’re looking to find out about alternator belts vs. serpentine belts, or simply want to learn more about the function of your alternator belt in your car’s operation, you’re in the right place. 

Read on to learn more about your alternator belt and signs it may need to be replaced. 

What is an alternator belt? 

An alternator belt supports the function of the alternator, helping your vehicle to regulate its voltage while optimizing its processes. It does this by creating an electrical flow that feeds directly into your engine, allowing it to run and perform in any sort of environment. 

Beyond simply providing energy, it can also work to actively charge your battery – giving you the assurance that your vehicle can function even in demanding situations and road conditions. 

Is the alternator belt the same as a serpentine belt? 

Your alternator belt is a serpentine belt that helps energy to flow to your engine – regulating and optimizing its function. However, not all serpentine belts are alternator belts. In some cases, they can be used for specific engine assemblies and purposes that would place them into their own separate category. 

In most cases, however, these terms are used synonymously across the field, as these situations are rare. 

If you’re looking to replace your belt systems or are researching alternator repair costs, feel free to use the linked calculation resource to help you to get a more accurate assessment. 

3 signs of a loose alternator belt 

Having a loose alternator belt can be problematic, hindering the performance of your alternator and limiting its ability to pull power entirely. This can lead to a range of problems, including electrical malfunction and total failure to operate. 

Below, we’ve listed some of the top symptoms of a loose alternator belt. Regularly evaluating your engine’s performance and function can help you to address these issues before they cause further complications for your driving experience. 

1. Squealing belt noises 

If you’re dealing with a loose alternator belt, you may be able to hear flapping or squealing noises as the car operates. This is especially true in colder weather and climates. This noise comes from the belt not being properly seated in the system, which is often one of the first noticeable symptoms of a loose belt. It may or may not be accompanied by the battery warning light showing up on your dash. 

2. Electrical malfunctions 

The symptoms under this category of failure can range depending on the severity of problems associated with your alternator belt. In many cars, this can cause flickering or failure of accessory lights, dimmed dash and accessory lights, or failure of function. This may or may not affect the engine’s ability to pull power simultaneously – but does point to an increased risk of engine complications and further vehicle problems if it’s left unaddressed. 

3. Stalling and engine failure 

If you reach this point, it means that the damage or failure is extensive enough to compromise your engine’s function. This can result in lasting damage if it isn’t addressed, and should be by a licensed mechanic or engine specialist. 

Convenient auto repair at home 

Looking for your auto repair solution? Consider the team at RepairSmith. Our experts come to your home and take care of vital service needs for your car’s function. For more information, please connect with us today.