The serpentine belt is connected to and moved by the engine crankshaft pulley. In turn, the belt drives all of the front-mounted engine accessories including the power steering pump, alternator, water pump and smog pump if equipped.
Over time, serpentine belts that are wearing out will become cracked and brittle, indicating it is time for replacement. Serpentine belts are extremely important because if they break, the engine will eventually stop running and you will lose power steering. In addition, a broken belt can cause engine damage if the water pump is belt driven and the engine is allowed to overheat.
Part 1 of 2: Remove the serpentine belt
- Free repair manuals - Autozone provides free online repair manuals for certain makes and models
- Protective gloves
- Repair manuals (optional)
- Safety glasses
- Serpentine belt tool (optional)
Step 1: Locate the serpentine belt routing diagram. Locate the serpentine belt routing diagram before removing the belt. This diagram will ensure that you know how to reinstall the belt. Most of the time, the diagram is mounted somewhere in the engine compartment. If not, you’ll need to consult the factory repair information or take a picture of the belt routing prior to removal.
Step 2: Move the tensioner. Use a ratchet or dedicated serpentine belt tool to push on the tensioner and move it away from the belt.
- Note: Some tensioners have a slot to insert a square ratchet head end into. Others have a traditional bolt head that you can install a socket onto.
Step 3: Remove the belt. While still holding the tensioner away from the belt, slide the belt off the pulleys.
Part 2 of 2: Install the new serpentine belt
Step 4: Determine how to route the belt. Look at the belt routing diagram or the picture you took to determine how to install the new belt.
Step 5: Move the tensioner. Use a ratchet or serpentine belt tool to push on the tensioner and move it away from the belt, so the new belt can be installed on the pulleys.
Step 6: Install the new belt. Position the new belt on the pulleys. Once the belt is in place, let go of the tensioner. Double check the belt installation against the routing diagram or the picture you took to ensure it is routed properly.
If this seems like a job you’d rather leave to a professional, YourMechanic offers expert serpentine belt replacement at a time and place of your choice.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How to Replace a Serpentine Belt and was authored by Mia Bevacqua.