Cars have several peripheral devices which allow their internal combustion engines to function properly. Some of the main devices include a power steering pump, alternator, air pump, air conditioning compressor, and water pump.
However, these devices cannot function properly without the help of a serpentine belt. This one long continuous belt is the force that drives many of the engine’s peripheral devices. There is usually a belt tensioner or idler pulley to guide the belt as it moves.
Top 5 Bad Serpentine Belt Symptoms
A bad serpentine belt is not something you can just put off and wait to deal with. The entire functionality of your vehicle may be compromised when your belt is worn, damaged, cracked, or snapped.
You will know when the belt is getting in bad shape because several signs will present themselves. Below are five of the most common symptoms of a faulty serpentine belt:
1) No Air Conditioning
A malfunctioning air conditioner can be attributed to a lot of things. Since the serpentine belt keeps the air conditioner functional, a bad serpentine belt will take that function away from it.
If you turn on your air conditioner and see that it does not blow out cool air from the air vents, this could possibly be due to a bad serpentine belt.
2) Squealing Sounds
If the front area of your vehicle makes squealing sounds, then your serpentine belt might be misaligned or slipping. Sometimes it might just take a realignment of your serpentine belt to fix this problem.
But in other cases, the belt is probably damaged and will need to be replaced.
3) No Power Steering
The serpentine belt allows the power steering system to function properly. Power steering is what gives drivers the ability to smoothly steering their vehicle without needing to apply too much pressure.
But if you have a bad serpentine belt, then it will be harder to move the steering wheel to steer your vehicle.
4) Overheated Engine
The serpentine belt is what activates the water pump which helps cool the engine. If you have a damaged or worn serpentine belt, then it won’t be able to activate the water pump. This means that your engine will begin to overheat since it cannot be cooled down anymore.
You will see this happening as the temperature gauge on the dashboard shows the needle moving toward the red zone. Don’t let this continue for too long or else your entire engine could get damaged.
5) Visible Cracks on Belt
The serpentine belt is easy to access in most cars. If you want to know if your belt is bad, simply open the hood and look at the belt for yourself. If you notice visible cracks or damage to anywhere on the belt, this means the belt is bad and needs to be replaced right away.
Serpentine Belt Replacement Cost
It is very inexpensive to replace a serpentine belt. The replacement cost is only going to be between $90 and $200 in most cases. The belt itself will cost between $25 and $75 while the labor costs will probably be between $75 and $120. Taxes and fees will be added onto these prices too.
The ease of accessing the serpentine belt will determine how much the labor costs are. Some model vehicles have the serpentine belt easily accessible, which means the labor should take under one hour. But if the belt is in a more complicated area, it could take about 2 hours.
Either way, this is certainly one of the cheaper components of an engine that you will ever have to replace. It is better you replace this immediately than risk more expensive components getting damaged.