Fan belts or “serpentine belt” are used in cars engines to work other parts such as the alternator, water pump, air pump, A/C compressor and many more. It is an improvement over the old multi-belt systems because with one wide belt (sometimes, two maybe more but it all depends on the model of your engine really), it saves space and is capable of withstanding more tension. It also reduces the strain on the engine which makes everything run smoother and more efficiently and is easier to replace since you do not have to deal with multiple belts. If the belt deteriorates, you will need to change it because a large chunk of the system relies on it. Here is how to replace a fan belt:
- Safety first. Here you are working on your car, toiling away and probably working up a sweat. All of a sudden the car starts to roll…forward. Oops! Safety first! You are working on your car and even with the engine turned off, other bad things can happen. Always engage the handbrake and make sure you are working in a safe enough area before starting any job.
- Signs that your belt needs to be replaced. If gaining speed suddenly becomes a chore, you might want to give your fan belt a look. You might also hear a loud and deafening screech while driving. Also, another sign that something is wrong with your fan belt is the rising temperatures on your gauge even if the radiator and coolant are fine. If your inspection of the belt(s) (with the engine turned off) reveals cracks or deterioration, it is time to replace it. Generally, you should change your fan belt every four years or around every 30,000 miles.
- Take a picture. Before you start removing your fan belt make sure you know exactly where everything goes. Once you take out the belt, you need to be sure you can put it back on correctly. Some cars will be harder to navigate through than others so be ready for anything. It is a good idea to take a picture of how the fan belt is aligned just to be safe.
- Removing the fan belt. You’ll need a wrench or a similar device to loosen a few things before you can safely remove the fan belt. Check the manual how to do this properly. Once you have loosened the tensioning bolt enough, you can start to slip out the belt. Begin at the largest pulley and then work your way to the others. Don’t be afraid of getting your hands dirty. Check the other parts while there is no belt.
- Installing the new one. When reinstalling the belt, start with the smallest pulley working your way up to the largest. Again, this part is crucial because if you do not return it the right way, you could end up doing more harm than good. Make sure you follow the grooves. The manual will indicate when you have tightened the bolts enough.
This is a relatively easy task that requires a lot of grit and handiness. You have to be able to work your way around the engine and its parts. You also need to be able to recall where the belt runs through.