Service Basics: What is a Serpentine Belt?

Every Acura on the road today is packed with features from bumper to bumper. Somewhere in between, at the front of the engine, there are a couple critical components that rely on the engine’s rotation to operate. That’s only possible if those systems are connected to the engine in some way. That’s where a serpentine belt enters the equation.

What is a Serpentine Belt?

Like other drive belts, it runs across pulleys and uses tension to rotate auxiliary systems. Previous engine designs used one belt for each function – a serpentine belt can often reduce the need to just one single belt. It looks like it ‘snakes’ around all the pulleys in the engine bay, which is why it’s called a serpentine belt. It’s made out of synthetic rubber and reinforced with strands of high-strength fabric such as Kevlar.

What Functions Does It Operate?

The serpentine belt can drive any number of options. In many Acura models, you’ll find the serpentine belt operating an air conditioning compressor and rotating the alternator. On vehicles with hydraulic power steering systems, it also drives the power steering pump. Without the serpentine belt to turn these functions, they would not work at all. The air conditioning would not blow cold air, the battery wouldn’t recharge, and your steering wheel would be extremely tough to turn.

What Goes Wrong With the Belt?

Like all rubber belts, the serpentine belt is prone to wear and tear over time. The ribs on the belt dry out and crack and the belt can stretch. If it’s left uncorrected, the belt will break or skip off the pulleys. It can be dangerous if this happens, especially if you’re driving when it occurs.   If your Acura’s belts look like they’ve seen better days, or if you don’t think you’ve ever had your belt replaced, give Frank Leta Acura of Springfield a call. We’ll check your belt for you and let you know how it’s doing. You can count on our factory-trained technicians to do the job right if it needs to be replaced.