We’ve all heard the expression, “Out with the old. In with the new”.
Not only is this a great saying to explain the feelings we have at the start of a new year – it also allows us the freedom to evolve and grow from the things that held us back the year before. Each New Year, we commit to things about ourselves that we wish to change in the form of “Resolutions”. These can be a wide variety of habits, behaviors or relationships that we make a personal pledge to improve, remove, complete, or start upon.
Whatever the decision to “resolve” is, it requires us to continually act in the interests of the desired outcome, much like a conveyor belt on an assembly line. So long as we behave with our resolution in mind, we will get closer and closer to achieving our goals. If the conveyor keeps moving, progress in the form of output, continually grows. If the belt stops, due to wear or disuse then output slows, performance is lost and the goal won’t be met.
Just as we can go through a cycle of wear in moving forward with our resolutions, so do the Serpentine Belts in our vehicles.
Serpentine belts power the various important engine accessories like the alternator, air conditioning compressor and such. In the past, the type of material used to make serpentine belts was neoprene – similar to the material used to make wet suits. When these old style belts wore down they would get shiny, or glazed and develop cracks. Replacing them was based on whether they had three or more cracks per inch or if it had deep cracks. Today, most belts have evolved; just as we do when we complete a New Year’s Resolution we set upon ourselves. Modern Belts are now made with EPDM material, or Ethylene-Propylene- Diene Monomer. Because of this, looking for belt wear is different for modern made belts over neoprene ones.
EPDM Belts last much longer than their neoprene counterparts and small cracks do not affect their function in the same way that it did for neoprene belts. Wear on the EPDM belts is determined by measuring the wear in the “ribs” and “valleys” on the serpentine belt with a simple tool. Once 5% of the belt rib material is lost the belt should be replaced as it is not functioning at optimal capacity and can actually allow slippage that can cause damage to the accessories it keeps running. In the event that you hear a squeal or chirp from your engine compartment – especially at start up – you may be in need of a serpentine belt replacement.
We can inspect your serpentine belt system for belt wear, belt alignment problems (belt abrasions), pulley problems, and belt tensioner issues. Your belt tensioner, which keeps the serpentine belt tight, has the same service life as the belt itself so they should be replaced together along with the idler pulleys.
Stop by your Local NAPA AutoCare Center and ask your Service Advisor if it’s time to replace your serpentine belt.
If so, don’t forget to take advantage of our $20 Instant Savings opportunity going on now at participating locations.