What is a Serpentine Belt?

Written by Lee Wyatt (last updated April 4, 2012)

Anyone that has ever spent any time at all around a mechanic can easily tell you that the serpentine belt is one of the most, if not the single most, important pieces of equipment to be found in your engine. In fact, this is one of those pieces of equipment that can be found in just about any engine for any kind of vehicle. But the question remains, what is a serpentine belt? The answer to this question is both amazingly simple, and somewhat complex at the same time

  • Purpose. Simply put, a serpentine belt is used to help transfer energy from the engine of a vehicle to numerous other peripheral items that help the vehicle run properly. For example, some of these peripheral systems include the alternator, power steering pump (if you have power steering), air conditioning compressor, air pump, water pump, and many others. In addition, in some designs or models of cars, both sides of the belt will actually help run the car, not just the one that is normally gripped.
  • Types. While it is most commonly known as the serpentine belt, there are other names for it as well. Some of these are the multi-vee, poly-vee, or even multi rib belt. The name that is used is usually determined by the area or region of the country that you live in, but almost everyone knows it by the term serpentine belt. In addition, there are also some models of vehicles that use more than one serpentine belt to help with the proper running of the vehicle. One of the more common brands of vehicles where you can see an example of this is in BMW.
  • Materials. There are very few things that a serpentine belt can be made from. Most commonly these items are made from a heat resistant material that is largely plastic or rubber in composition. Often times there are a few metallic threads running through it to help add a little bit of extra strength to the belt. One side of the belt is usually kept relatively smooth, while there are divots or teeth in the other side. These divots or teeth are designed to help the various cogs and wheels of the engine grab the belt better and more effectively transmit the power of the engine to where it needs to go.
  • Basic maintenance. The basic maintenance of the serpentine belt is amazingly simple. The first thing that you need to do is periodically check to ensure that the belt is maintaining the proper tension. This is usually done by simply pressing in on the belt and ensuring that it doesn't move all that much (usually less than an inch, preferably around 1/2 inch). In addition, you will also need to check and make sure that the belt's teeth aren't missing (simply running your hand along the interior of the belt can tell you this), or that it isn't drying out and cracking (which can be done both by touch and visually).

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...


Using a Meat Thermometer

Having a meat thermometer in the kitchen of your home, while a great start, does absolutely nothing if you aren't using ...

Discover More

Giving Your Yard a Makeover

It is not just people who can use a makeover every once in a while. Giving your yard a makeover may seem like a huge ...

Discover More

Is Moss a Type of Weed?

Have you ever noticed how most plants are placed into one of two categories, plant or weed, by homeowners and gardeners? ...

Discover More
More Car Tips

Changing Your Engine Oil

Basic engine maintenance is an absolute necessity. What isn't necessary is to pay the high cost that comes with having a ...

Discover More

Diagnosing Engine Problems

For many people, one of the more embarrassing things to try and explain to a mechanic is an unknown engine problem. ...

Discover More

Adding Power Steering Fluid

If you have power steering in your car then you know how helpful this feature can be. However, it is necessary to ...

Discover More

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 7 - 6?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)