Automotive V-belts or serpentine belts drive your water pump, A/C compressor, power steering pump and other
accessories. When it’s time to change the serpentine belt on your vehicle, you can shop Advance for deals on
accessory drive belts from top brands like Dayco and Gates.
Why did automakers go from V-belts to a serpentine belt?
The serpentine belt has a few advantages over multiple V-belts. A single belt to drive all accessories means
better space efficiency underhood since there’s no need for the alternator, A/C compressor, water pump and
other accessories to be offset from each other. The serpentine belt also means less parasitic drag on the
How can I tell when a belt is wearing out?
Your serpentine belt or V-belts will start to look frayed at the edges, cracked or glazed when they’re
starting to wear out. These tough belts are fabric-reinforced and can last 60K miles or so, but it’s still a
good idea to check their condition regularly.
How hard is it to replace the serpentine belt?
Serpentine belts are a little tricky, but most vehicles feature a routing schematic underhood that shows the
proper path the belt should take. The belt is designed to work with a tensioner, which is like a
spring-loaded idler pulley that goes against the belt’s back side. There’s no lubrication point on the
tensioner, and it can seize up and fail over the years. When replacing the belt, it might be a good idea to
replace the tensioner as well.
It can be difficult to get the right kind of leverage on the spring-loaded tensioner to move it out of the
way when replacing the belt. You can borrow a
loaner tool kit from your local store that will have a flat bar that can fit into tight clearances,
with a special fitting for the tensioner.
To install a V-belt, you’ll need a large screwdriver or pry bar to put leverage on the alternator in
order to bring the belt to the right tension. You can then tighten the bolt for the alternator in its
sliding bracket (some alternators feature an adjustment bolt to make this job easier). The belt should
have no more than about ½” of deflection in either direction.