P3 Automotive: Serpentine Belts

Cars today do more with less belts. That makes for a simpler, cleaner design, but can also lead to immediate problems if things go wrong.

Prevention is key, since the single serpentine belt drives most support devices for your engine, including: water pump, power steering pump, air pump, air conditioner compressor, alternator and more. If your belt breaks, you can lose a lot all at once. Steering may become difficult. The flow of necessary coolant and water to your engine will be interrupted. The overheating engine can quickly cause significant damage to your car–putting you and your passengers in danger. 

This single ribbed belt, sometimes called a poly-vee, multi-v, or multi-rib belt should be inspected, along with the self-adjusting mechanism, every time your oil is changed. That’s what we do at P3 to help our customers avoid a catastrophe. If the belt is seriously worn or slipping, it should be replaced to prevent an accident or breakdown on the road and avoid expensive repairs to your engine. 

Serpentine Belt Warnings: Knowing When You Have a Problem 

  • Squealing noises: A slipping belt can cause squealing sounds when the belt and pulley aren’t working properly. This can happen due to a loose or stretched belt, low tension or oil on the belt.
  • Performance problems: As mentioned, power steering may fail or your battery may mysteriously drain. Your engine may cut off with little or no warning—that’s why prevention is so important with serpentine belt issues.
  • Check engine light or battery warning light: Either of these can signal that something is wrong with the v-belt.
  • Steering becomes difficult or goes out.
  • Engine overheats.

What Can Go Wrong with the Serpentine Belt? How P3 Can Fix the Problem

  • Oil: The smooth side of your car’s serpentine belt typically runs the water pump—but the belt can become soaked with oil, causing it slip so that the pump can’t circulate water to keep the engine cooled. At P3, our experienced mechanics can quickly locate the source of any oil/antifreeze and make repairs before installing a new serpentine belt.
  • Rips, tears and abrasions: Sometimes the serpentine drive belt rubs against a bolt as the car gets older. We may need to prevent future damage by filing the rough edges of the pulley flange, for example.
  • Tiny pinholes and lumpy areas—or missing ribs on the drive belt: This is not always a big problem. Small, shallow cracks that don’t go through to the back of the belt are normal and don’t mean you need a replacement right away. At P3, we will check all sections of the belt as we crank the engine, to make sure your serpentine belt is strong and intact.
  • Tension: Your belt may become worn and loosen over time and periodic adjustments are needed. Self-tensioned belts may also need servicing.

If properly checked and maintained, serpentine belts can last from 60,000 to 100,000 miles. So make sure to come in if you experience any of these problems. We will inspect your belt and tensioners, find the root of any problems and make repairs. If necessary, we will replace the belt, after providing a free estimate for any needed fixes.


P3 Automotive

Get Your Serpentine Belt Checked at P3 Today
P3 is the complete auto repair and maintenance resource for Tallahassee residents

Visit P3 Automotive at: 1031 South Magnolia Drive Tallahassee, FL 32301

Call us at (850) 877-8811