For those who don’t know what the serpentine belt is, serpentine belt is so very important to your engine working perfectly. This serpentine, or s-belt as many know it, has greatly simplified the operation of the under hood pumps and pulleys. However, this one long belt runs all the engine-driven accessory, which includes alternator, the water pump, the a/c compressor and the power steering pump. And with a lot of systems counting on it, it is very vital to occasionally examine the serpentine belt for signs of fraying, cracking, or glazing. It will be better to be replacing the serpentine belt every 30,000 to 60,000 miles.
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REPLACING THE SERPENTINE BELT: HOW TO REPLACE THE SERPENTINE BELT
As we said earlier, the serpentine belt drives engine accessories such as the air conditioner compressor, the power steering pump and alternator, and on the long run, the serpentine belts can crack and fail. So once your serpentine belt fails, the operation of some accessories will stop. The steering system will be difficult but not impossible to turn because the power assist will be non-operational and eventually the car battery will not be charging again. It is true that sometimes belt routing can be very confusing, ensure to take a picture or draw a routing diagram before removing the old belt. Although, we’ll show you how to replace the serpentine belt and how often to replace serpentine belt.
You can examine the belt tension, if the belt is loose it can cause a chirping noise due to the lack of pressure needed for the belt to operate properly.
Here are the Tools Needed:
- A ratchet and socket set
- A torque wrench
- A new replacement belt
- A new tensioner
- A new pulley
- A wrench set
- A jack and axle stands or ramps
The Best Practice
- Try using a wire brush to clean the belt pulley grooves.
- Also try using the right size belt to maintain the proper amount of tension.
- Please do not try using a belt dressing or an anti-noise sprays. Because this is a temporary fix and will cause the replacement belt to fail prematurely because of contamination on the pulley system.
- Once you have removed the belt, spin all the pulleys to ensure the bearings are perfect. Anytime the bearings fails, they can squeal before they lock up and throw the belt off.
HOW TO REPLACE THE SERPENTINE BELT
- First Find the Serpentine Belt
For you to have access to the serpentine belt, you will need to open the hood of the vehicle.
- Next, release the safety latch located at the front of your car.
- In case you can’t find the hood release or safety latch, then check owner’s manual for guidance.
- Your battery must be disconnected
Ensure your battery is always disconnected before you begin any car project. And make sure you are using the appropriate sized wrench or socket to loosen the nut holding the black ground cable on the negative terminal of the battery.
- Try sliding the cable off of the terminal and tuck it to the side of the battery.
- Ensure that the positive terminal is disconnected.
- v Locating the serpentine belt
It all depends on your engine type, the serpentine belt sometimes might be located at the front of the engine bay, or along one side. But there might be a cover on the engine, so be prepared to remove them.
- Some engine cover may be held in place by plastic clips, be careful not to break them.
- In case you still can’t see your serpentine belt, checkout for the service manual for your specific vehicle.
- Check if the belt has wears or damaged
As soon as you have located the serpentine belt, examine it if there is any signs of damage. In case the belt is frayed, or having marks that indicate that it has been rubbing on something, then replacing the serpentine belt will be the best.
- Many car owners ask how often should a serpentine belts be replaced, we recommend every 40,000 to 70,000 miles.
- In case you notice any sign of the belt rubbing on something, make sure to identify and repair whatever it was rubbing on to avoid damaging the new belt.
- Check the serpentine belt routing diagram.
A lot of vehicles comes with a sticker in the engine bay that describes how the serpentine belt is supposed to be routed through the various pulleys on the engine. But in case your vehicle do not have a sticker, try checking online for guide.
- Check in the owner’s or service manual for your specific year, brand and model vehicle for a diagram.
- With your cell phone, take a picture of the existing belt and use it as a guide whenever you want to install a new one.
REPLACING THE SERPENTINE BELT
Knowing how to replace the serpentine belt is an important skill, but if you don’t know how replacing the serpentine belt is done, then follow this steps.
- Before you start, examine both your repair manual and your belt routing diagram under your hood. But in case you need to, check for online guide and then print it out.
- Carefully examine how the old belt wraps around the pulleys. Ensure you have the new belt in hand and practice matching the routing.
- Find the self-adjusting tensioner and be very careful when releasing tension from the belt. Also note that the back side of the belt runs against the tensioner, so it will appear more like a smooth roller than a pulley. Try positioning the wrench on the tensioner, making sure that there is enough room to remove the tool once the tensioner is released. After which, release the tension. Then you will notice that the tensioner tool is a flat bar rather than a ratchet, and this will help you get into the tight clearance for the tensioner’s roller.
- Next, carefully remove the old belt. Then examine the tensioner pulley for wear by using your hand to spin it before you install the new belt. Note that a noisy, loose or strongly tight tensioner pulleys will need to be replaced. And also, examine all pumps and idler pulleys to ensure that they freely move. Examine the idler pulleys and the pulleys for the water pump, alternator, smog pump, air conditioner compressor and any other accessories for wobble or deflection.
- After which, you can now install the new belt. Make sure you line up all belt ribs in the pulley grooves, and do not allow the belt to be twisted.
- Finally, you can now tighten the tensioner and close the hood.
HOW OFTEN SHOULD A SERPENTINE BELT BE REPLACED
Are you wondering how often to change serpentine belt? It is important to know how often replace serpentine belt, because driving on an old belt is a disaster waiting to happen as it powers all of an engine’s accessories. This simply means that whenever your belt breaks, slips and, ultimately wears out, everything from the power steering pump to the alternator and air conditioner will stop working. And moreover, the parts it controls can become severely damaged. Please note that broken hoses and belts are bad, a damaged engine is even worse. However, by replacing the serpentine belt periodically, you will minimize the risk of any possible breakdown.
Note that serpentine belts are produced to last much longer than before because of the advancements in rubber technology. In a normal condition, a belt should last for an average of 50,000 to 100,000 miles. Although some belts are manually tensioned and may need adjustment, while others have a self-tensioning mechanism that can experience wear over time and needs to be serviced.
Now you have learnt how to replace the serpentine belt and that replacing the serpentine belt will ensure your car doesn’t break. And for those who don’t know how often to change serpentine belt, there is one thing you should always remember, in most cases, if the belt breaks, the vehicle will stop running.