Serpentine Belt in a car is a high-quality rubber belt with one side rough and another side smooth (smooth being the outer or visible side), placed to drive the components of the engine mounted on the periphery.
The belt serves as the one key driver for the engine parts like water pump, battery alternator, air conditioning compressor, power steering and other peripheral devices.
Being the single component, it is easy to mount on the frame and connect the devices to each other in one uniform manner and thus facilitates their smooth and coordinated functioning.
The functioning and maintenance of serpentine belt are critical for a vehicle since it is responsible for working of devices which if stop performing, will hinder the usability of the whole vehicle.
Conventional Belt System before Serpentine Belt
In older vehicles, instead of Serpentine Belt also known as Drive Belt, a group of belts used to connect the different parts of engine separately instead of one through-and-through system.
The segregated connection thus requires individual attention in terms of managing the torque and tension for each part to run in coordination with the engine and each other.
Also, connecting the parts with different belts involves engagement of bearings and pulleys with a higher ratio due to more load.
Hence, the whole grouping arrangement ends up taking more space in the engine system and also consumes more power affecting the efficiency of an engine which will lessen down the vehicle's overall performance.
Merits of Single Drive Belt (AKA the Serpentine) – What It Does for Your Car
The single belt system is adapted as preferable choice as opposed to the older version of group belts. A single drive belt is easy to mount, operate and maintain owing to its continuity and uniformity.
It may be supported by a tensioner or a pulley, operated manually or automated. Being the single component, it occupies less space in the engine compartment leaving a good breathing space on its account.
The efficiency of drive belts depends on their apt tightness. While using a single belt, no separate stretching is required to put the belt on high tension state.
The yield limit of the belt is enhanced due to its longer dimension, so high tension can be achieved coherently for all devices without running the risk of any collapses.
This increases the performance level of devices without imposing more load on power generation.
High tension reduces the chances of flipping of belt to as low as zero level raising the bars for mechanical efficiency of the belt. Also, the risk of dislodging of any of the accessories is minimised due to the uniformed linking.
Single belt system allows the use of lower ratio pulleys owing to the less amount of load exerted by the connection system and less number of connection bearings which goes obviously in favour of the efficiency of engine and performance of a vehicle.
The placement of a belt in the engine system is not very complicated and so is its removal and replacement.
As it is easy to mount on the frame and connect the accessories in the engine system of the car, same way it is easy to take off in case of service requirements or complete replacement.
The process goes unhampered with no confusions about what to connect where. There is no need to move many parts or belts from their places in order to replace one single belt.
New components or belts, if required, also can be very easily fit in without any complication of entangling the parts in each other.
Different brands of cars go for different types of serpentine belts based on the mechanism of vehicle’s engine system and the positional arrangement of devices to be controlled by a serpentine belt in the frame.
In some cars, the smooth side of the belt is linked to those engine parts requiring less torque, while simultaneously connecting the other parts with the requirement of more torque to be driven.
The number of belts to be used also depends on the mechanism of the car. Single belt being the most common option can very well be replaced by two belts or a group of belts for driving the different devices if needed, to obtain optimum efficiency.
Serpentine belt plays the key role in the operation of critical devices in a car. The power steering, air conditioning system, water pump responsible for engine cooling, battery alternator, air pump for exhaustion; being the major ones.
This explains the need for proper maintenance of the belt. If not serviced as per the time period instructed by the manufacturer, the vehicle will start showing the signs of exhaustion.
The belt itself gives many signs of failure or deterioration or situation worsening on any account, prior to breaking down to a position of replacement or rendering the vehicle unusable.
The Belt Needs Attention
The reasons are pretty self-explanatory. Car devices that a serpentine belt is controlling and driving are the ones responsible for the placid performance of vehicle on the road.
If the belt stops functioning as required; the steering will go useless leaving you unable to control the vehicle, the water pump will stop circulating the coolant in the engine cooling system leading to the halt in a vehicle running.
A vehicle will stop exhaling the burnt fuel gases leading the engine system to choke down on smoke.
Several more situations can arise at the wrong place and wrong time leaving the vehicle owner with no choice but to head immediately for a mechanic and garage.
Needless to say, it is always better to keep the belt properly serviced at all times, especially when the belt itself is designed to give you a lot of prior warnings of damages about to occur.
Indications of Failure
When you experience squeaking noise from vehicle or problem in the functioning of power steering and AC or engine overheating or shredding of the belt out of its original state; take these signs as lead and hit the garage to get the serpentine belt back in the original state.
In short, the above details clearly state the importance of the serpentine belt in your car. It is driving many of the key devices of your automobile and is responsible for their proper functioning.
Hence, the accessory needs to be looked after well to run the vehicle. A poorly serviced belt will affect the quality of other accessories and the overall performance of the car as well.
A knocked down serpentine belt will immediately render your vehicle useless. So it would be wise not to overlook the importance of the appurtenance.Keep it in its wholesome state to draw a long-lasting smooth experience from the vehicle.