It would be impossible to deny that the automotive industry has come a long way since vehicles were first introduced in the market. Earlier, the vehicles were equipped with leather engine belts which easily wore out or snapped under heat. Eventually, these leather belts were replaced by two rubber belts—the alternator belt and the fan belt. Here, we will discuss with you the role that fan belts play in keeping your engine performing at its best.
When your car needs a simple part replaced, a visit to the mechanic can often turn into a costly affair and it’s often too late when you realize you could have replaced the part yourself. It also seems unnecessary to take your vehicle all the way to the garage for a simple fix that could have saved you a lot of time and resources if it had been done yourself. In this article, we will also share some pointers that will help you realise when it’s time to replace your fan belt and get a new one. Sparesboyz has an array of fan belts available at best prices to make your work easier.
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What is a Fan Belt?
A fan belt is one of the essential car parts that need regular maintenance. It is a flexible rubber belt that is essential at combining certain engine components to work in conjunction with each other. It connects the crankshaft pulley and the alternator to the engine cooling fan. Belts are also essential in other power components, including the air conditioner compressor, the water pump and the power steering pump.
If you do not spend a lot of time tinkering under the hood of your car, you may have no idea what a healthy belt looks like. Whether your vehicle uses an older V-belt in a two-belt system or a modern, multi-purpose belt, you will learn that most belts come in black. These belts can have grooved sides or they may have one smooth surface.
You know that your belt is in good condition if the grooved rubber and the smooth-sided rubber are free of cracks. Cracks indicate old age and dry rot. Eventually, your cracked belts will break, stranding you in the middle of your drive.
Why Does Your Car Need a Fan Belt or Serpentine Belt?
Your fan belt drives the accessories and main functions of your vehicle. Without your belt, or with a very worn belt, you couldn’t use power steering, your car would overheat all the time, and many more hiccups with your vehicle will appear.
How can you tell if your fan belt is bad?
- If you find major difficulties while steering your vehicle – If steering has become a little more challenging than it used to be, it might be a sign that your fan belt is on its way out. As the fan belt continues to lose its grip and slip, it makes power steering increasingly difficult, as your car misses the help of the water pump, which also has responsibility for driving the power steering belt.
- The lights inside your car are not as bright as they used to be – As the belt continues to lose its grip, you may notice that the lights inside the car, and the headlights, go dim when you start your car or whenever there’s an extra load on your battery.
- If you find trouble starting your car – As your fan belt wears down, it has trouble turning the alternator belt consistently, which can lead to no-start problems. Sometimes it gets so bad that it kills your battery, or causes the car to intermittently fail to start, even when the battery is charged up.
- If your car tends to overheat – As your fan belt or serpentine belt breaks down and frays, it won’t be able to turn the water pump consistently, which slowly defeats the engine’s cooling systems and causes the temperature to rise more than it should. At first, it’ll only be a few degrees and you might just notice offhand that your temp gauge is up a few degrees more than normal. After a while, if the belt lets the water pump slide enough times, the engine will overheat.
- If your fan belt is not attached to the engine – If you find your fan belt is no longer attached to your engine or is lying on the ground somewhere, it’s a sure sign that it’s time to replace your fan belt!
How Often Should You Inspect your Fan Belt?
Once a month is best, although if you inspect your belts whenever you take your vehicle in for an oil change, you’ll usually be safe. Serpentine belts, which are much more commonly found in cars these days, are designed to last much longer than their predecessors. You shouldn’t need to replace them more than every four or five years or every 60,000-100,000 miles.
Is It Difficult to Change a Fan Belt or Serpentine Belt?
It is very easy! You will only need one breaker bar or a large wrench with a square peg that can fit into the centre of the tensioner pulley, so you can pull the tensioner pulley back and release the belt. In older models, you can use a socket wrench to remove a few bolts near the alternator. Either way, the project is one of the most simple DIY repairs you can take on, which is why we usually recommend it for first-time DIY’ers looking to get started, or enthusiastic drivers who want to be rusty mechanics themselves, or drivers who want to make sure they aren’t getting completely ripped off labour-wise.
If you still don’t feel comfortable changing a fan belt yourself, ask your local mechanic if you can supply the belt and they just take care of the labour on your behalf.