5 Symptoms of a Loose Alternator Belt and Replacement Cost
Anyone who drives a car has probably heard of an alternator before. It is responsible for sustaining the charge of the battery so that it can power the electrical components of the vehicle. If an alternator did not exist in the vehicle, the battery would never be able to power all these electronic components by itself. It simply does not generate enough energy to do this. The alternator keeps the charge going in the battery so that the power can continue to cycle throughout the vehicle.
When an alternator is actively charging the battery, it is actually spinning inside the vehicle. There is something called an alternator belt which wraps around a pulley that is connected to the alternator. The other end of the pulley wraps around the crankshaft. Therefore, the crankshaft and alternator are able to rotate together by the alternator pulley. If you didn’t have this pulley, then the alternator would not be able to do its job.
Loose Alternator Belt Symptoms
As you continue to drive your vehicle, the alternator belt gets a little bit worn each day. It could be susceptible to wear and tear damage or it may even come loose from the pulley. Once that happens, you can expect all kinds of symptoms to arise. If you notice any of these symptoms, the best thing to do is have your alternator belt replaced immediately. Otherwise, you could find yourself stranded somewhere after your vehicle’s electricity shuts down.
Below are the top 5 symptoms of a loose alternator belt.
1) Flickering Lights – If you are driving your vehicle and suddenly notice the lights flickering or dimming inside the cabin, this could mean you either have battery issues or alternator issues. When it’s a problem with the alternator belt, the flickering or dimming lights may stay consistent for quite some time before the electrical power goes out entirely.
2) Vehicle Stalls – If your alternator belt gets loose as you’re driving, it will cause your engine to stall. This, in turn, will cause your vehicle to stall, which means you’ll lose acceleration power and will be forced to pull over onto the side of the road. If this symptom is consistent with the flickering lights issue, then a loose alternator belt is more likely the cause.
3) Battery Warning Light – One of the first symptoms that you should notice is the battery warning light coming on. This warning light does not always mean there is a problem with the battery itself. It could just mean there is an electrical problem in the vehicle which is impacting the battery. Rather than wait to see what happens, you should take your vehicle to the mechanic as soon as you notice the loose alternator belt.
4) Cannot Start Car – The alternator gives the battery the charge it needs to power the spark plugs so that they can ignite the air and fuel mixture in the combustion chamber of the engine. If you have a loose alternator belt, then the alternator won’t be able to start this ignition process for the vehicle. This means your engine won’t start, leaving you stuck wherever you are.
5) Dead Battery – When the alternator can no longer fully charge the battery because of a loose alternator belt, the battery will then try to provide all the power to the vehicle on its own. Unfortunately, the battery will die within minutes because it doesn’t have enough power to sustain all the vehicle’s energy needs by itself.
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The replacement cost of an alternator belt is typically between $100 and $200. The part cost is between $25 and $80 while the labor cost is between $75 and $120. The true replacement cost will depend on how long it takes the mechanic to access your alternator belt. Sometimes it is easy to access, so the labor will only take one hour or so. But if the belt is difficult to access, you could be looking at multiple hours of labor charges. At the most, it should not go over $300.