What is the Serpentine/Drive Belt all about?

The serpentine/drive belt also referred to as v-belt is a rubber belt that connects the alternator, power steering, and AC to the part of the engine (crankshaft) which then sends the power from the engine to those parts. Without this belt, the battery will be charged and none of the electrical accessory parts in the vehicle will work. The serpentine belt and v-belt are also called “drive belts.”

Because of the high amount of heat in the engine, the belt can start to cracks over time and eventually break. If the belt breaks, the steering wheel will be difficult to turn and driving will be dangerous.

In some vehicles, water pumps are driven by the drive belts. If the belt breaks, water and coolant required to keep the engine cool will not properly flow to the engine. The engine will thus overheat, potentially creating severe damage.

Bear  in mind:

A vehicle will either have a serpentine belt(s) or v-belt(s). Vehicles that have a serpentine belt will have one or two belts. Most modern vehicles have only one belt, driving all the engine accessory parts. If the vehicle has v-belts, it will most likely have four belts.

How it is done:

  • Check the belts for cracks.
  • Remove and change any damaged belts.
  • Inspect pulleys and bearings.


A mechanic should check the drive belts during oil replacements. If you hear a squealing noise from the engine, it is likely that the drive belts require either adjustment or change.

What common signs indicate you may need to change the Serpentine/Drive Belt?

  • Squealing noise issuring from engine if the belt is loose or worn out.
  • Lack of steering if the belt is completely broken.
  • Battery Warning Light comes on.
  • Engine overheats.

How Vital is this service?

The drive belts links the engine to the alternator, air conditioning, power steering, and sometimes the water pump. These belts are how power is sent from the engines to these other systems. When the belts brake, the engine will be unable to send power to the alternator, air conditioning, and power steering. Since the alternator is incharge of charging your battery, a broken drive belt means that the electrical part won’t work in your car. The power steering also will fail, which makes it difficult and hazardous to steer. If your vehicle’s water pump is also connected to the drive belt then the engine will not have a properly functioning cooling system, and your car will be likely to overheat.