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What Can Cause A Drive Belt To Wear Prematurely

Update:10-12-2016
Summary:

A noticeable noise may result. In severe cases, the bel […]

A noticeable noise may result. In severe cases, the belt can get pulled into the timing belt drive causing catastrophic engine damage. Cause: Pulley misalignment is a common cause of premature belt failure.

To work properly, a drive belt must be under proper tension. In older cars, belt tension had to be adjusted manually, see the photo. Typically, you would hear a loud screeching noise when the engine is started if the drive belt is loose. In cars with manual adjustment, the belt tension must be checked during regular services and adjusted as necessary.

Today, most cars are equipped with maintenance-free spring-loaded (in the photo) or hydraulic belt tensioners. It's not necessary to replace a belt tensioner whenever a drive belt is replaced. A drive belt tensioner must be replaced only if it is failed. For example, a tensioner could be seized or the tensioner bearing could be noisy. Sometimes a seized belt tensioner may even cause the serpentine belt to slip out. A failed hydraulic belt tensioner often produces a rattling noise. If you suspect that your drive belt tensioner has failed, your mechanic can check if the tensioner works properly. In most cases, a belt tensioner is fairly easy to replace and not very expensive.

What can cause a drive belt to wear prematurely?

A number of factors can cause a drive belt to wear prematurely. For example, in this car, in the photo, a drive belt needed to be replaced every three months. Upon closer inspection, we found that the alternator was installed improperly, under angle. Click on the photo to see the larger image. This caused the alternator pulley to be misaligned with the belt, so the belt was wearing out faster.

A damaged or missing engine undershield can also cause a drive belt to wear faster. An undershield protects the belt from dirt, sand and water. If the undershield is missing, water and small rocks can get under the belt and wear it faster. Improper tension, oil and coolant leaks can also cause the Drive Belt to wear faster.