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DIY: Replacing A Serpentine Engine Belt

The serpentine drive belt is what keeps your battery charged, your engine cool, steering easy to turn and keeps you cool when it's hot enough to fry bacon on the sidewalk. But how often do you really think about it? Not often enough I'll wager.
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» That Old Myth...
» That Old Myth...
» Let's Get This Straight...
» Those Who Are Idle Work Here...
» Automatic Tensioners...
» I Can Use A Belt...
» Serpentine Drive Belt T/S
 

I Can Use A Belt...

Okay, so you need a belt. Not the kind that comes in a bottle, the kind that wraps around all the pulleys of your engine. Most people think a belt is a belt is a belt. Not so! The first thing to do is to count how many ribs your serpentine drive belt has. Many 4-rib belts get sold to replace a 5-rib belt. And you know what, they will fit and work. But it will not work as well, or last nearly as long as the right belt. This can happen when belt applications get consolidated or the parts guy doesn't have the right belt and uses your old one to match up a new one and doesn't bother to count the number of ribs. A lot of times the catalog is misread or just plain wrong.

Many serpentine drive belt makers make belts just as good, if not better, then the original belt that came with your engine. But they will make belts that will fit more than one application in order to consolidate part numbers and reduce the number of different belts. They make compromises in order to get a belt to fit as many cars as possible. This is good for them, bad for you. If you are one of the lucky ones that have an application where your engine tolerances make the "correct" name brand name belt not work in your vehicle, get a different name brand belt or get an OEM serpentine drive belt from a Dealer. The Dealer's belt will be more money, but you'll make it up over the cost of two or three non-OEM belts.

Install the belt so it's completely in the grooves. It is very easy to install it incorrectly and have it hanging off the pulley by one groove. If this happens, the belt will not be able to travel and transfer power smoothly. It will tear, rip chunks out of the ribs and it will not take long for it to tear up until it snaps, leaving you stranded.

Like many maintenance and inspection procedures, this doesn't take very long, maybe ten minutes. This is something that can easily be done while waiting for the tank to fill. And these ten minutes could very well save you an expensive tow bill and the headache of being stuck on the side of the road.

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Additional Information provided courtesy of
ALLDATAdiy.com and Warranty Direct
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