The drive belt, also known as the fan belt, provides power to many important components located near the front of the engine. The drive belt powers the alternator, water pump, power steering pump, and AC compressor. Each of these components contains a pulley where the drive belt wraps around. The crankshaft also has a pulley with the drive belt wrapped around it, even though it does not draw power from the drive belt. When the engine is running, the crankshaft pulley turns, allows in drive belt to turn all of the other pulleys it is attached to.
There are two kinds of drive belts: V-belts and serpentine belts.
A v-belt will taper from wide to narrow, forming the V-shape that gives it its name. V-belts are typically found on older vehicles and will typically drive all of the engine accessories. Some newer but still old vehicles may utilize multiple V-belts, in which each belt only drives one or two engine accessories. The belts themselves may either be completely smooth or ribbed with multiple grooves used to dissipate heat.
A serpentine belt will “snake” around the engine accessories and does not form any sort of coherent shape. At least one side of the serpentine belt will be grooved. They tend to last longer and be more efficient than V-belts, which is why they are more popular in modern vehicles.
Signs of a bad drive belt
- Engine overheats
- Power steering fails
- Battery dies
- Squealing noise
- Physical damage on drive belt
- Check engine light illuminates
Drive belt maintenance
If you notice any of the above signs, get your drive belt serviced by a car care professional right away. Your technician will first determine if the issues are due to the drive belt, the tensioner, or something else. If the drive belt is worn or cracked, it will be replaced. Sometimes the drive belt may have failed due to a fluid contamination – if this is the case, the technician will examine any leaks and patch them up as well.
The best way to get maintenance done on your drive belt is to book your appointment through CarAdvise. CarAdvise makes car care simple and guarantees that you’ll pay less than retail price on all car maintenance services.