All of us in San Antonio have those days when we’ve got a bunch of errands to run around the Schertz and Bulverde area. Suppose on your day off you need to get gas, pick up some groceries, swing by your San Antonio ATM and get the kids from school. Now you could make four trips, but that would be a waste of time and money – totally inefficient. Instead you get organized and hit the ATM first and get some gas next. Then you go to your San Antonio supermarket and pick up the kids on the way home. Way better use of your time.
Now you may wonder what this has to do with your family car. Well, back in the day, each of your engine’s accessories, like the alternator and air conditioner, were powered by separate belts. A vehicle might have 5 or 6 belts. These days, vehicles have a single belt to run all the accessories. It’s called the serpentine belt because it snakes around everything, efficiently connecting the accessories – like bundling your errands.
A pulley attached to the family car engine’s crank provides the power to turn the serpentine belt. The belt may provide the power for the power steering pump, which makes it easier to steer your family car. Next comes the alternator which generates electricity to run the vehicle’s electrical system and charge the battery. On to the air conditioning compressor. This helps make cold air to keep you comfortable all summer long in San Antonio.
On some vehicles the water pump or radiator fan or the power brakes are also run by the serpentine belt. Some even have two serpentine belts. No matter how your engine is arranged, you aren’t going far without a serpentine belt. Your auto maker has a recommended interval for inspecting your belt and your Converse service specialist can inspect it for damage or wear.
Finally, there is the belt tensioner. Its job is to apply pressure on the belt to keep it tight. Several years ago, manufacturers started making serpentine belts out of a new material. It’s much more durable, but it’s harder to tell when the belt needs to be replaced. The old style belts would crack and chunks would fall off so you could easily see when you needed a new one.
On the new style belts, if the ribs wear too deep, it’s time to replace. Your service specialist uses a simple gauge to tell when the belt is worn and you need a serpentine belt replacement. A worn belt stresses your family car engine’s expensive accessories and causes them to wear prematurely.
So, change your serpentine belt and belt tensioner as recommended by your friendly Cordova Auto Centers service professional to extend the life of your accessories and to prevent future breakdowns.
Today’s Cordova Auto Centers article focuses on your serpentine belt. Your serpentine belt is a long belt that’s driven by your engine. It winds around several accessories that power important automotive systems. Let’s go over them.
First, the serpentine belt drives your air conditioning system. Next, the belt powers the alternator.
The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering and power brakes. In some family cars, power steering may have an electric drive and power brakes can be vacuum driven.
And, on many vehicles, the serpentine belt powers the water pump (on some cars, the water pump is powered by the timing belt).
Your Cordova Auto Centers service technician can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon and will measure the amount of belt material to make sure there is enough.
San Antonio drivers should be aware that there’s a special, spring loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley and sometimes an extra pulley call the idler pulley. Their job is to make sure there’s a constant tension on the serpentine belt so that it doesn’t slip. The spring can become worn and no longer provide the necessary pressure to keep the belt tight. That’s why it’s often recommended that the tensioner, and the idler pulley if so equipped, be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.
All in all, the serpentine belt’s an important part for the function of your family car. And it’s not that expensive to replace at Cordova Auto Centers – so it’s good to do so before it fails.
Your serpentine belt drives your alternator and air conditioning compressor. The power steering and power brake pumps are driven by the serpentine belt in many San Antonio vehicles. In some family cars, the water pump is driven by the serpentine belt (in others it’s driven by the timing belt). The radiator cooling fan on some vehicles are also driven by the serpentine belt. Some have separate electric motors.
Serpentine belts do a lot of work, but they’re tough and can last for thousands of miles, but just how long will they last? That’ll vary for each individual San Antonio car. Your manufacturer or Cordova Auto Centers technician will have a recommendation for when it should be changed, but it could need it sooner. The good news is that a visual inspection can reveal a belt that’s worn.
It’s often recommended that the tensioner pulley that keeps the belt at the proper tension be replaced along with the serpentine belt. This pulley is mounted to the engine block with a spring loaded arm.
What are the warning signs that there’s a problem with the serpentine belt? You may hear a squealing sound from under the hood when accelerating. A loose belt might give you a slow, slapping sound.
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Cordova Auto Centers
12715 Nacogdocher Road
San Antonio, TX 78217