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Don’t worry, it’s just a name for a car part. Though I’m sure there have been cases of snakes popping out from under the hood.
A serpentine belt is a modern drive belt or fan belt. It’s responsible for transferring rotational force from the engine to different components in the car. You think the alternator magically turns on its own? What about the air conditioning compressor or the power steering? Nope, nope, and nope.
The serpentine belt takes rotational force generated by the engine, and doles it out to those systems. And it does so in a pretty simple manner. The belt is made of rubber, and looks exactly like a belt. It wraps around a series of pulleys, one for each system that it drives. As the belt snakes (hence the name) around all of the pulleys, each system is given the rotational force it needs.
The belt itself is driven by a pulley attached to the crankshaft. So, as the engine works, it turns the crankshaft pulley, which sets the serpentine belt in motion, which turns everything else.
Not all cars have serpentine belts. Some cars have multiple drive belts, with each belt only turning a few pulleys. If a car only has one drive belt, then it’s a serpentine belt.
Unlike traditional drive belts, serpentine belts don’t need to be adjusted, because they automatically do so. And they’re more durable, too. But they can crack and break, and when they do, they’ll need to be replaced.
Look, I know the check engine light seems so insignificant. Well, it isn't. The check engine warning light is actually pretty important. If your car’s serpentine belt is failing, then systems will stop working, your car’s computers will be alerted, and the check engine light is likely to come on.
Here’s something I don’t need to tell you: If your car won’t turn on, you might have an issue. The serpentine belt is responsible for driving the alternator, which is responsible for charging the battery. If the belt fails, the battery won’t be charged, and eventually, it will run out of juice. Depending on your car, you may see a low battery charge warning light before the battery is fully dead. As previously mentioned, pay attention to those warning lights.
The serpentine belt also runs the power steering system on some cars. If you’re driving and turning the steering wheel makes you feel like you haven’t hit the gym in a while, you’ve probably lost your power steering. The serpentine belt can also help power the power braking system in some cars, so if you find it hard to brake, that may be a belt issue as well.
In many cars, the serpentine belt drives the water pump, which is what gets the coolant in action. If the water pump can’t do its job, you may not have a cooling system, which means your engine is liable to operate at way too high of a temperature. Your car has an engine temperature gauge on the dashboard. I know I sound like a broken record here, but listen to the warning on your dash.
If you don't spend your free time under the hood of your car, no judgement here. But if you do, and you notice that the serpentine belt is rigid, cracked, or ripped at all, then out with the old and in with the new.Get a Quote 1-Year | 12,000-Mile Warranty
Depends. Do you want an engine that overheats, a battery that dies, and a lack of power steering?
If you said “yes” to that, we’ve got bigger issues on our hands than your car. But if you said “no”, then you know what to do.
1-Year | 12,000-Mile Warranty