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When A Drive Belt Should be Replaced

Update:10-12-2016
Summary:

Most car Drive Belt manufacturers don't specify the dri […]

Most car Drive Belt manufacturers don't specify the drive belt replacement intervals, but rather recommend inspecting it during regular services once your vehicle reaches a certain mileage.

If the drive belt breaks, your car won’t be driveable. This is because the engine will overheat if the water pump is not running. Also, if your car has a hydraulic power steering, you will lose the steering assist, as the power steering pump will be disabled. In addition, the alternator will stop supplying electric power that is needed to recharge the battery and run the vehicle electric systems.

When a drive belt needs to be replaced?Most car manufacturers don’t specify the exact mileage, but recommend to have the belt inspected during your regular maintenance visits. How can you tell if the serpentine belt needs replacement?Usually at this time ,your mechanic will look for cracks, splits, damaged edges, missing chunks, glazing and other signs of wear. Usually it's fairly easy to see when the belt is worn out. A worn-out belt must be replaced. A drive belt must also be replaced if it is found to be soaked in oil, or stretched. If your car has two drive belts, both are usually replaced at the same time. It's also a good idea to replace an old drive belt before a long road trip. Read more: Car checklist before a long trip.

To work properly, a drive belt must be under proper tension. Most newer cars have an automatic spring-loaded or hydraulic belt tensioner that doesn’t need to be adjusted. In older cars, the belt tension had to be adjusted manually in regular intervals. One of the symptoms of a loose drive belt is a loud squealing or screeching noise that lasts for a few seconds after the engine is started. Often, drive belts are replaced as a kit with the new tensioner and other hardware.

For example, this is what Toyota recommends for the 2012 Toyota Camry drive belts:

Initial inspection at 60,000 miles/72 months. Inspect every 15,000 miles/18 months thereafter.

Replacing the serpentine belt may cost from $75 to $250, depending on the vehicle.

Is it easy to replace the serpentine belt as a DIY project? If you have sufficient mechanical skills, proper tools and the belt routing diagram, it’s not very difficult. Your parts store may help you with the routing diagram and tools.