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The Gripping Tale of Automotive Drive Belts


Let's hear it for all the unsung heroes residing in you […]

Let's hear it for all the unsung heroes residing in your engine bay! Some of the most important heroes are your drive belts. Let's talk about belts, shall we? Sometimes they have to screech and squeal before we'll take notice. That horrible noise is usually the last sign that your belt will give you before it breaks. Sometimes an automotive belt failure will cause a small temporary inconvenience, such as when your steering becomes rock hard because your power steering pump isn't being turned or it can be much more serious with your warning lights flashing because your alternator isn't being turned. Both of these scenarios are the makings of a very bad day. Your engine cannot run properly without these belts.

Drive belts also turn that little electric generator called an alternator. They also "give life" to your air conditioner's compressor. In some cases a drive belt might be responsible to turning a cooling fan or even your water pump. All of these devices are essentially powered by the turning force of your engine via a belt of some kind. Drive belts are critical to most secondary engine systems.

There are several different types of belts, we'll discuss the serpentine, the V-belt, and the toothed V-belts. The serpentine belt is the most common type of belt used on most cars and trucks. This type of belt usually powers a lot of accessories. They were designed to save space by connecting most, if not all of the accessories on the same plane, thereby eliminating the need to stack or stagger the accessories behind or in front of one another.

The V-belt is still used in modern automobiles. It is called a V-belt because its cross section view resembles the letter V. V-belts typically are used to power a single accessory such as your vehicle's air conditioning compressor. They are rather simple and fit into a V-shaped pulley. Sometimes they are used in pairs on trucks or other powerful vehicles.

The toothed V-belt is used in high torque applications. Torque is essentially "turning force". They are also used on powerful engines and on motorcycles. This type of Rubber Drive Belts has teeth that fit into the grooves of a toothed pulley.