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If you’re even slightly familiar with maintaining your vehicle, and what that entails, you will know that a serpentine belt is a very important component. It is responsible for providing power to the AC, the power steering and the alternator too.

Like any component in your car, over time it can wear down, eventually breaking. Before it breaks even, it can start to fail, becoming cracked, brittle and less able to effectively do its job. This can have a serious impact on performance.

When a serpentine belt eventually breaks it can cause major issues in the engine, and you won’t be able to drive until you get it fixed. A good replacement serpentine belt isn’t terribly expensive, so it’s a good idea to get a new one whenever you think it might be necessary. To figure when it might be necessary it’s good to know what the signs of a bad serpentine belt are.

In this article I’m going to go over some of the most common symptoms that you will experience when your serpentine belt is wearing out, or about to break.

Signs & Symptoms of a worn serpentine belt

Often times when your serpentine belt is beginning to wear out the first thing you will notice is a squeaking noise coming from under the hood of your car. Although this kind of noise can be caused by a pretty wide variety of different things, the serpentine belt is probably the most common cause. So, if you hear a suspicious noise, check it out – it could save you some time and money in the future.

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Another one of the most common things that indicates a new serpentine belt is in order is when the engine is overheating. Again this could also be a symptom of a variety of other problems, but it is none the less worth considering that a bad serpentine belt may be the culprit.

A bad belt can cause the engine to over-heat when it’s not gripping or rotating properly. This can cause an excessive amount of friction, and could even damage other engine components.

A bad serpentine belt can also cause the engine to overheat indirectly by stopping the water pump from functioning as it should. This happens when the belt becomes loose and looses its tension. When this happens it’s something you want to get on top of right away, a bad water pump can easily be catastrophic for your cars engine. If engine coolant isn’t able to move around properly it’s only a matter of time until the engine overheats.

If the Air Conditioning in your vehicle stops working, it could be another indication that your serpentine belt is worn out. Also, when your cars power steering becomes less effective it’s another clue that there’s a problem. Lastly a bad belt can cause the battery to drain much faster than it should.

If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, it may well be an indication that you need to replace the serpentine belt. Or, there could be another unrelated issue causing these symptoms. If you have some mechanical understanding you can easily look under the hood and check for yourself. Regardless what the cause of these symptoms is in your case, it’s best to get them checked out as soon as possible. Not only for your safety, but also to keep more money in your pocket by avoiding further issues down the road.

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What does a new serpentine belt cost?

The belt itself isn’t very expensive, you can usually pick up a decent one for around $60. The more expensive part is the labor cost to install it, although that shouldn’t be anything that breaks the bank as it’s a pretty easy job for an experienced mechanic. It also varies significantly depending on the model of your vehicle, as some vehicles make it much easier than others to get access to the belt in order to replace it.

What is the lifespan of a serpentine belt

It’s usually around 100,000 miles. However, this varies greatly depending on how you drive your vehicle, and the conditions in which you drive it. It also depends on the quality of the serpentine belt you have installed. Generally belts made from higher quality materials like EPDM rubber will have a much longer life.

Even though a serpentine belt will often last 100,000 miles or even more, it’s still best to get it checked out when you get your car serviced. If you have a rough driving style it could wear out very quickly.

Will insurance cover a serpentine belt replacement?

Most likely it will not. Auto insurance usually only applies when the vehicles issues are the direct result of a car crash or some other kind of accident. When a serpentine belt wears out it would just be considered to be general wear and tear. To be sure about this, you could always contact your insurance provider.


If your car is experiencing any of the symptoms I’ve listed above, then it’s definitely a wise decision to take it into the mechanic and get it looked at quickly. Doing so will ensure that you have a healthy engine for years to come.

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It might be tempting to try and push the useful life of the belt out for as long as possible, but honestly it’s not a good idea. If the belt overheats or anything like that, then the damage it can cause to other parts of the engine just isn’t worth it.

Fortunately if you find out that the symptoms I’ve talked about are related to your serpentine belt, buying a replacement part, and getting it installed isn’t actually too expensive.

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