Checking for Loose Drive Belts
If there is one single part of the engine that needs to be taken care of properly, it has got to be the drive belt. Drive belts (also known as serpentine belts) are the one piece of equipment that can help make the entire engine work together properly. This basically means that if it becomes too loose, breaks, or some how becomes damaged in some other way, your entire engine stops working. Without a working engine, your car doesn't move. The easiest way to keep this from happening is by checking for loose drive belts. It's not that difficult, and really only requires that you follow these simple steps.
- Find the belt. Before you can check your drive belt to see if it is loose, you need to be able to identify it. For most vehicles this is a fairly easy thing to do since all you need to do is look at the front of the vehicle's engine. Typically you will find a single large belt that runs from the top of the engine to the bottom, usually in a serpentine fashion (hence the nickname).
- Visually inspect. Once you have identified the drive belt take a look at it. Usually you can get a good idea of what you are faced with by simply looking. The belt should not look like it is lose at all, and it should firmly be in place with all the wheels and pulleys that it has to work with. Furthermore, when you look at the belt make sure that it is not dried out or cracking. If it looks like it is, you will need to replace it as soon as possible.
- Feel it. Take the time to actually touch and feel the drive belt. By simply pressing on the belt you can tell if it needs to be tightened or not. When pressed in, the belt should move no more than one inch. At this time also take the opportunity to feel the belt and see if there are any notches missing in the teeth on the underside, or if there are any cracks that you can't see, or anything that simply feels wrong.
- If necessary, tighten it up. If the belt ends up moving more than an inch when you press against it, you will need to tighten it. Make sure that the belt is still useable though, otherwise you could accidentally break it when you begin tightening it. The tool that you use to tighten a drive belt is, imaginatively enough, known as a tensioner. These can be purchased at most automotive parts stores.
- Perform regular checks. Don't forget to check your drive belt on a periodic timeframe to ensure that you don't miss anything. This simple preventative maintenance action can help ensure that your serpentine belt doesn't break or come off when it would be most disadvantageous for you.