8 Symptoms of A Bad Serpentine Belt & Replacement Cost

bad serpentine belt

If the serpentine belt is faulty, you can see various types of symptoms. The serpentine belt is a vital component used in vehicles and runs the AC compressor, power steering pump, alternator, and water pump all while the engine is running.

But often, as vehicles get older, loosening or wearing of the serpentine belt is a common process that can cause many parts of the vehicle to stop working. Sometimes, a faulty serpentine belt can also cause the engine to overheat while the vehicle is moving and get damaged.

Therefore, you should have complete information about the serpentine belt used in vehicles. Like, what is a serpentine belt? Symptoms of a bad or loose serpentine belt, and how much might a serpentine belt replacement cost?

What is A Serpentine Belt?

Serpentine belt, also called drive belt. In vehicles, serpentine belts are used to drive components such as the alternator, power steering pump, water pump, and air conditioning compressor connected to the vehicle’s engine.

The drive belt is called a serpentine belt because of its winding path around various pulleys in the engine compartment. Serpentine belts are made of embedded cords and fibers, which provide flexibility and make them more durable.

Symptoms of A Bad Serpentine Belt

Symptoms of a bad serpentine belt are belt squeaking, engine overheating, air conditioning system failure, alternator failure, and failure of other belt-driven components. Additionally, cracks may appear in a faulty serpentine belt.

Let us look at the symptoms of a faulty serpentine belt in detail so that you can identify the symptoms and replace it in time to prevent additional damage.

1. Squealing or Chirping Noise

Often, you will hear a high-pitched chirping or screeching sound due to a loosened or worn serpentine belt on any engine. This noise is especially noticeable during startup or acceleration of the engine. Because a loose or worn serpentine belt usually starts making noises due to slipping on the pulleys.

2. Worn or Torn Belt


It is normal for serpentine belts in vehicles to wear or tear over time. Whenever you check for a damaged serpentine belt, you may notice cracking, fraying, or breakage in the serpentine belt. A damaged serpentine belt can develop issues with multiple components in the vehicle failing or not working properly.

3. Steering Pump Failure

Many vehicles are equipped with a hydraulic power steering pump, which is continuously rotated by engine power with the help of a serpentine belt. But when the serpentine belt of your vehicle is loose or broken, Then your vehicle’s steering pump fails to work, and it becomes harder to turn the steering wheel, causing the vehicle to face problems turning.

4. Battery Charging Light On


Whenever the serpentine belt of your vehicle is loose or breaks while the vehicle is in motion, the alternator driven by the serpentine belt stops working from engine power, causing you to have a constant display of the battery charging light on the dashboard of the vehicle.

The battery charging stops due to the shutdown of the alternator, and the battery starts discharging in no time. and reduced operation of a vehicle battery operated accessory.

5. Air Conditioner System Shutdown

ac clutch not engaging

Whenever your vehicle’s serpentine belt is loose or broken, Then your vehicle’s air conditioning system slows down or stops altogether. Because of the loose serpentine belt slip, the ac compressor is not able to give full speed, or the ac compressor stops working completely due to the breakdown of the belt. Causing your vehicle’s air conditioner system to work poorly or fail completely.

6. Overheating Engine Issue


The serpentine belt in any vehicle’s internal combustion engine also drives the water pump and circulates coolant through the engine to prevent overheating. If the belt is loose or broken, the water pump may not work properly or stop working altogether. This causes the engine to overheat. You may notice a temperature gauge rising to the red zone on the vehicle’s cluster meter or steam coming from the engine bay when this occurs.

7. Sudden Loss of Battery Charge

car battery cost

Some components of the vehicle are to be powered directly from battery power. These components require constant charging of the battery when the engine is running in order to remain functional and not discharge the battery. But a loose or broken serpentine belt can stop your vehicle’s alternator from charging the battery.

And for this reason, continued use of the battery without charging it can dead the battery and cause the battery-powered accessory to perform dimly or fail completely.

8. No Response RPM Gauge

To see the RPM of the engine on the dashboard of a vehicle, an RPM needle gauge or digital gauge is fitted. This gauge detects the RPM as the engine accelerates and displays it in the cluster meter. But in most vehicles, the rpm gauge works with the alternator. But the alternator stops working due to the breakage of the serpentine belt, due to which the rpm gauge also stops working.

Serpentine Belt Replacement Cost

On average, the total serpentine belt replacement cost for typical vehicles can range from $90 to $180. The cost of a serpentine belt can range from $60 to $120, and mechanic labor costs can be expected to be $30 to $60.

  • Serpentine Belt Cost: $60 to $120
  • Mechanic labor cost: $30 to $60
  • Total replacement cost: $90 to $180

However, the make and model of the vehicle, the brand of serpentine belt, and the location of the mechanic can affect the estimated cost of serpentine belt replacement.

How Do I know if I Need To Replace My Serpentine Belt?

If your vehicle’s serpentine belt is worn or loose, you will notice serpentine belt squealing, engine overheat, air conditioning system failure, alternator failure and symptoms of failure of belt driven other components and in many and in many cases, the belt cracks. Based on these symptoms, you can determine that there is a need to replace the serpentine belt.

What Does A Serpentine Belt Do?

Serpentine belts in vehicles help in running peripheral equipment components like alternators, AC compressors, water pumps, power steering pumps, radiator fans, etc. with the crank pulley of the engine.

But sometimes excessive loosening or damage to the serpentine belt can disrupt the functioning of many components of the vehicle, and these components stop working. In many cases, serpentine belt failure can also cause engine overheating.

Because the water pump stops or does not function properly, the flow of coolant into the engine’s coolant gallery is restricted, and the engine begins to overheat. Therefore, worn-out or damaged serpentine belts should be checked from time to time.


Q. Can you drive with a broken serpentine belt?

A. Driving a vehicle with a broken serpentine belt is not recommended. Because it can cause damage to the engine of your vehicle. Because you can drive the vehicle for 20 to 40 minutes with a broken belt. A broken belt causes the water pump to stop, which will cause the engine of the vehicle to overheat.

Q. Can a serpentine belt damage an engine?

A. Yes, a worn or broken serpentine belt can damage the engine. Because the water pump of the engine stops working due to a broken belt, which causes the engine to overheat quickly. If it is not taken care of in time, it can completely damage the engine.

Q. When Should The Serpentine Belt Be Replaced?

A. Typically, serpentine belts on vehicles must be replaced between 60,000 and 100,000 miles. But during every service, get the belt checked. If the belt is loose, tighten it. Because a loose serpentine belt over a long period of time tends to wear more and may get damaged before its lifetime, However, the effects of weather can also affect the lifetime of the serpentine belt.

Share If You Like

Leave a Comment

error: Content is protected !!