Remove and Replace Drive Belt
Check Drive Belt Pulleys
Check Drive Belt Tensioner
The drive belt (or serpentine belt) of a vehicle is the device that the engine uses to drive power to the air conditioning system, power steering, and alternator. It is made of reinforced rubber material and can last for a long time, in many cases up to 100,000 kms or around 5 years with average daily use.
The drive belt in a car is fairly easy to spot. It runs on the front of the engine and you can see that it’s attached to a series of wheels and gears. The belt runs around several different parts of the engine. In older cars the belt may be made up of two different parts, but in many modern vehicles, it is one belt to drive all the different components.
While the drive belt of a vehicle is designed to last a long time, there are a few warning signs that will help you anticipate if something is going wrong. Some of the things you’ll need to keep a lookout for include:
Squealing: This is a sign that the drive belt is slipping and not being as effective as it should. The squealing gets more prominent as the engine starts up or is idling.
Cracking or Splitting: Older drive belts may often develop cracks and ultimately break apart. If you see any cracks or other issues, you should get the belt examined professionally.
Unfortunately, in most cases when a drive belt breaks there are often no warning signs. However, if you hear what is commonly called the ‘serpentine belt squeal’ this is clearly an indicator that something needs to be inspected, adjusted and probably changed.
As the serpentine belt is key for driving and supplying power to many other parts in the engine, it can break while the car is in motion. If your belt breaks while driving, try to pull over as soon as possible. You should then call for help or get the car towed to safety. It is not recommended that you drive the vehicle in this condition, as doing so will cause further problems.
Lube Mobile can perform a drive belt change as a part of your regular car service or as standalone car repairs. Our mobile mechanic can visit you and attend to your car wherever it is, which can save you an expensive tow. We have over 190 vehicles operating in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth and Adelaide, and in many other locations all over Australia.
If you need your serpentine belt replaced or any servicing completed on your cooling system you can book in through our contact page, or call 13 30 32, for an appointment and one of our mobile mechanics will attend to your car, and have you running again.
For an exact cost, it can largely depend on the make and model of your particular vehicle. If you have a separate fan belt it can be reasonably inexpensive, although for most cars the fan belt or drive belt will run multiple items in the engine, it can cost anywhere from $200 - $600. For a more accurate cost, you can call us at Lube Mobile on 13 30 32, and we will provide you with an estimate on the belt replacement cost.
If you are replacing the belt as a part of your regular scheduled service, the cost will usually be incorporated into that as a whole. When the fan belt is replaced the mechanic will be working on an area of the car where it will be cheaper to do multiple services at once. You can ask what other items can be replaced or serviced at the same time to save you some money.
In an older car replacing the alternator fan belt is reasonably straightforward. Start by making sure the car is parked in a stable condition and the battery terminals are disconnected. Then use an appropriate wrench to loosen the auto-tensioner or the alternator bolts. The belt should be relaxed enough that you can work it loose from the pulley and remove it from the car. Ideally, you should take notice of how the belt goes on the car, this is especially important if the belt is a serpentine belt. For best results take a picture of how it looked before you remove it.
Before replacing the belt make sure you have the appropriate belt for your vehicle, as installing the incorrect one can cause problems. Thread the new belt on making sure you follow the correct path the old belt did. If you thread the belt in the wrong way it can cause problems for the engine and possibly further damage it.
After you have replaced the belt, tighten the auto-tensioner or alternator bolts. This will move the alternator and tighten the belt. Once you have finished checking the tension of the belt - it should have very little give when installed properly. You can buy a belt tensioner to check the tension for you.
For best results have an experienced mechanic perform the belt change for you as that will guarantee the job is completed correctly, and you’ll receive a warranty on the service.
Most belts in an engine will have a limited lifespan, and they should be changed before they break. The drive belt has a lifespan of around 100,000km, but they can change from car to car, it largely depends on what your particular make and model recommends.
If you’re not sure you can call Lube Mobile and we’ll give you an indication of when the drive belts should be changed or you can contact your car’s manufacturer.