What are the signs of a faulty serpentine belt?
Any malfunction of the component will affect the operation of the units it drives: the alternator, air conditioning compressor, hydraulic power steering, or cooling fan. For example, you may notice that the battery has become slower to charge. When the serpentine belt – also known as a poly-V belt – is faulty in vehicles with hydraulic power steering, you have to apply more force than usual to turn the steering wheel. When starting the engine and when driving at high speeds, a characteristic whistle is heard from under the bonnet. During inspection, you may find cracks, scuff marks, damaged ribs, or traces of oil on the surface of the part.
Is it possible to continue using the serpentine belt after detecting signs of failure?
A faulty belt should be replaced immediately. Otherwise, it may break while you are driving, risking deterioration of steerability, failure of electrical equipment, complete battery discharge and the inability to start the engine. In addition, a broken poly-V belt is dangerous for the valvetrain: it can be wound around the engine crankshaft or guide or tensioner pulleys. This may result in a broken timing belt, failure of engine valves, and cracking of the camshaft gear.
Can I replace the poly-V belt myself?
Replacing the serpentine belt is a rather labour-intensive process. But using the instructions from AUTODOC CLUB, you can handle it yourself. Note that in addition to the belt, you will need to install new guide and tensioner pulleys. Before getting down to work, it’s a good idea to take a picture of the belt routing diagram or to draw it. At the end, it is very important to properly tension the item. This may require a special tool.