Drive Belt Maintenance: Signs of Wear and Tear

drive beltThe drive belt, also known as the serpentine belt, is a critical part of the engine. It works with the idler, tensioner, and pulleys inside the engine to power the air conditioning, alternator, power steering, and sometimes the cooling system water pump. The drive belt operates whenever the vehicle is running—if it’s not functioning properly, your engine may not run at all.

Cracking

Cracking along the drive belt is usually caused by age—as the belt is used, the rubber will become dryer and less pliable making cracking more prevalent.

On rare occasions, cracking can also be caused by a defective tensioner. The tensioner is spring-loaded to keep the belt tight on the pulleys. If a belt starts slipping or looks prematurely cracked, the tensioner should be checked to make sure it’s functioning properly.  

Glazing 

Glazing on the edges, ridges, or grooves of the drive belt is usually caused by slipping. When the belt slips off the track, the friction between the belt and the accessory drive pulleys causes the ruber to overheat and become smoothed or misshapen.

Slipping can be the result of loose belt tension, a weak automatic tensioner, or pulley misalignment. If you hear a high pitched squealing noise, it’s probably time for belt maintenance.

Fraying 

When the belt is not properly on the pulleys, the scrapes on the top edge of an accessory drive pulley side as the belt feeds into it, eventually causing the belt to fray.

Fraying at the edge of a drive belt typically indicates that the pulleys are misaligned. Fraying on the edge of the belt is usually visible and might be coupled with a thumping or rubbing noise as the belt rubs against the pulleys.

At V&F

If you see noticeable wear on your serpentine belt or hear unusual noises, come in to see us! We’ll help you diagnose the problem, make the necessary repairs, and work to prevent it from happening in the future. Plus, all of our auto repair services are backed by an industry-leading 3-year / 36,000-mile warranty on parts and labor. Call us today at (413) 314-2280 or schedule an appointment online.

Written by Nicole Palange

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