Have you ever come across a situation, when you are driving your car on the road in the hustle-bustle of everyday traffic, and suddenly the vehicle starts producing squeaking noises?
Like, it is also so much frustrated with this terrible traffic and endless wait on the traffic signals to make its way through to the destination. But hey!
Let me inform you that it is not your vehicle crying like a spoilt kid when faced with the harsh reality of life. It may be a sound coming from one or more of the engine parts denoting the need for maintenance of that or those parts.
Most often than not, when a vehicle produces squeaking sounds, it is safe to guess that there is some problem with the Serpentine Belt in the engine system.
Serpentine belt! A long belt running like a snake in the front part of the engine system of your vehicle over a pulley arrangement. Did you ever notice it?
No issues if you did not. Many people don’t. And it is not something very critical about your daily schedule that gaining knowledge about serpentine belt should be part of your everyday affairs.
But yes, it is crucial to know that a serpentine belt plays an essential role in running of your vehicle. Your vehicle's power steering, air conditioning system, engine cooling system, exhaust system and many other engine parts are driven or operated by serpentine belt only.
If there is a failure in the serpentine belt or the belt is knocked out of position, it will bring your vehicle to a sudden halt. Certain parts of the vehicle will entirely and immediately shut down.
You cannot run the vehicle until the serpentine belt is fixed in its original position in a proper serviced manner. So listen to it when the serpentine belt is squeaking out loud to get your attention fixed.
How to Fix a Squeaky Serpentine Belt?
Well, the answer is simple. Call for a mechanic and get it done. But meanwhile, it is also advisable to have the knowledge for one’s own self.
Just in case you bump into a situation where calling for help might take a more significant toll on you than fixing it yourself. Like, on an access-free highway or forest roads, etc.
Reasons of the Noise
Let us first diagnose the reasons that why exactly the serpentine belt is facing problems in functioning.
It may be any reason ranging from wearing of the belt, lack of greasing of the machine parts, some defect in belt tensioner, functioning issues in the devices that the serpentine belt is driving, misalignment or dislodging of idler or tensioner pulleys, defect in the connection bearings, etc.
Pulley misalignment, worn out belt, and a bad bearing are the three major reasons.
Fixing Worn Serpentine Belt
Usually, if the serpentine belt is worn out, its tension decreases. The tensioner pulley cannot supply enough tension to the belt, and the belt starts slipping. That causes the squeaking noise.
The solution to the problem is to change the belt. You can control the squeaking sounds by spraying plain water over the belt and the pulleys.
Although it will smoothen the running process for a while, but the issue will be recurringas soon as the water dries away. Unless you get the belt replaced with a brand new one, the old one will continue to wear and creating a nuisance.
Solving Pulley Misalignment Issue
If the pulleys connected to the serpentine belt are misaligned, that will indicate basically that the belt is not running straight from one part of the engine to the other.
It will look like the belt is wobbling back and forth while spinning – enough reason for it to produce sounds.
The solution to this issue is to realign the pulleys manually. These pulleys are fitted tightly to their position which is good for a smooth functioning of the engine system.
So, it may take a little effort to realign them manually, but it will not be too difficult to do. You may also take the help of some hardware to assist the strength part in aligning.
The alignment of pulleys should be such that the serpentine belt runs straight without slipping over. You will know the alignment is right once the belt stops squeaking.
Defective Bearing Repair or Replacement
If the bearings connected with the belt are gone wrong, it will indicate through the fault in the functioning of pulleys and belt both.
They will not get a smooth connection support and start producing noise. Also, the pulleys will start to wobble considerably.
To fix the issue, identify the bearing which is not working fine. The signs of a bad bearing will show in the belt and the nearest pulley to the bearing.
The whole section will be vibrating little more than the other sections of the engine system. Take out the defective bearing, repair or grease it if needed and fix it back. If this does not solve the puzzle, you may have to replace the bearing.
An Alternative Way
Belt Dressing is sometimes used to quiet the squeaky noise coming from the serpentine belt. But it cannot help in all situations. First of all, when the belt dressing solutions are dried, they make the belt even noisier.
And what if the squeaking problem is not because of the belt condition? It might be the fault in the pulley alignment or the bearing. In that case, one has to inspect the whole belt arrangement to fix the issue.
Understanding the functions of a serpentine belt and fixing the issues pertaining is no rocket science. In certain cases, it is better to have some in hand knowledge about critical vehicle parts, their function and repairing techniques.
Why so? In order to not getting stuck suddenly in the middle of nowhere where a hand to help is difficult to find.
A car or any four wheeler for that matter may be giant mechanical inventions, but sometimes, their parts as critical as the serpentine belt may be easy to understand and operate.
Knowing about how to handle the issues with it gives you an edge in handling your vehicle better, as far as the overall performance of the vehicle and your experience with it are concerned.