My Express Car Care service adviser said I need a new serpentine belt but I don’t see any cracks in it. Does it really need to be replaced?
Express Car Care Answer:
I appreciate your concern. Old style neoprene belts would crack with age, making it pretty obvious to Denver motorists when they needed to be replaced. Nowadays, serpentine belts are made from a different material that doesn’t crack or glaze the way neoprene did.
Stepping back, the serpentine belt transfers power from the engine to various critical accessories like the alternator, power steering pump and air conditioning compressor, even the power brakes and water pump on some vehicles. Modern serpentine belts have several grooves running their length. These grooves mate with the pulleys on the accessories. When the belt is within its useful life, it spins the accessories at the designed speed.
Over time, belt material is worn away. When as little as 5% of the material is lost, the belt can slip and not properly spin the accessories leading to dangerous stress and expensive damage.
Using a special tool, your Express Car Care tech can measure the material lost in your serpentine belt. He will know if it needs to be replaced.
It’s critical for Denver drivers to understand that the serpentine belt is part of the accessory belt drive system which also includes the serpentine belt tensioner and any idler pulleys. The belt tensioner has the same service life as the belt itself, so if it is time to replace the belt, you should also replace the tensioner and idler pulleys as well.
A worn belt can cause belt slip and enough belt-slap to really hammer the accessory upstream from the tensioner. Running too long with a worn belt, tensioner, or idler pulleys usually causes excessive heat at the accessory pulleys, resulting in inefficiency, expensive damage and premature replacement.
Express Car Care in Denver can perform a diagnostic examination to see if your belt or tensioner is worn and should be replaced. Ask your service specialist if it’s time for a serpentine belt system replacement.