A serpentine belt is a long, continuous belt that sits at the heart of your engine and is responsible for operating outer gears and mechanisms. It runs the alternator, the power steering pump, the air pump, and the water pump. Without it, you wouldn't have a functional engine that works. Plus, it keeps your air conditioning compressor running at an efficient speed. But the question remains. Is a serpentine belt the same as a drive belt?
The fact is that the two are often used interchangeably and are easily mistaken for each other. But they are actually separate belts. The serpentine belt is long, thin and intertwining. It curves around like a snake, hence the term "serpentine."
A drive belt is similar to the serpentine belt in that it performs those same functions. It operates the power steering pump, the water pump, the air pump, and your car's air conditioning compressor. It can do all of those things except for a few minor differences. A serpentine belt actually has the ability to transmit the power between your power steering pump, your alternator, air conditioning compressor and water pump, whereas your drive belt simply operates them.. It is as though through power the serpentine belt can get these four separate mechanisms to "communicate" by working together.
There are other key differences between the two belts. A serpentine belt is used for most makes and models because it's known to last longer. And because it's made of a more flexible material, you can remove it and have it replaced with a brand-new one.
A drive belt is comprised of material that's thicker and tougher than a serpentine belt. Most of the time, rubber or composite rubber is used in making one. There is some risk involved in using one because rubber can get worn out and break easily. When rubber is old, it tends to crack and become weak and frayed.
Serpentine belts last longer but will gradually wear out over time. If you start to notice loud squealing noises or power steering that's gone off to one side, it's time to have it replaced. So if you need to have your serpentine belt replaced, we invite you to bring your vehicle to Longview Auto & Tire today!