Signs of a failing drive belt
A faulty drive belt can cause a number of problems. These are some of the most common.
1. You hear a squealing noise: A drive belt that is stretched or out of adjustment can make a squealing noise. The noise is caused by the belt slipping on the pulleys, insufficiently driving them. This is usually most noticeable when the vehicle is first started in the morning, as the drive belt has not yet heated up and become pliable.
2. You see physical damage: A belt that is visibly cracked, frayed, torn or broken is no good. You’ll need a new one.
3. Warning lights are on: The alternator is driven by the drive belt. If the belt slips or breaks, the car’s charging system won’t have voltage. As a result, a cluster of warning lights may pop up on the dash. This is especially true on cars made in the last 10 or 20 years, which have dozens of voltage-dependent computers.
4. The battery goes dead: The battery is basically a storage device for electrical energy created by the alternator. If the drive belt slips or breaks, the alternator won’t properly charge the battery. As a result, the battery will die.
5. Lack of power steering: Vehicles with hydraulic power steering have a belt-driven pump. A loose or broken belt can result in a lack of steering assist.
6. Engine overheating: On many cars, the water pump is run by the drive belt. A broken or slipping belt can cause the water pump to stop turning, making the engine overheat. If this happens, pull off the road in a safe place and turn off the engine. Overheating can kill an engine quickly and cost you a lot of money.