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How To Check Your Vehicle's Accessory Belt
Hello and welcome back to our series on automotive tools and easy to follow instructions for the new weekend warrior auto mechanic. In past articles we covered some of the basic tools you should have in your collection but in today's article I'm going to talk about accessory belts. Now if you don't know what an accessory belt is, it's the belt on the front of your engine that turns the accessories such as alternators, water pumps, etc. Some vehicles use V belts - or multiple belts that only turn one accessory each or serpentine belts which are longer and turn multiple accessories or sometimes all of the accessories mounted on the engine.
If your engine uses V-belts, you will want to check the inside of the belt to see if it's glossy, glazed, or shinny. If it's cracked or frayed it will also require replacement. If you push down on the belt and it moves more than ½ inch, than it may need to just be tightened or it may require replacement if it is as tight as possible. If your engine uses serpentine belts you really don't need to worry about the looseness issue. If it's too loose, typically you will need to have the belt replaced or the tensioner as well.
The correct belt tension is typically set by a spring loaded tensioner that doesn't often fail but can. With a serpentine belt you can check for tightness by gently accelerating the engine and listen for a slip or high pitched noise that comes and goes. If that happens, the belt or tensioner will definitely need to be serviced. Also with serpentine belts you will need to follow the same guidelines as with the V belt system when looking for cracks, glazing, and fraying. And that's all there is to checking your accessory belt drive. It's really not too complicated and hopefully this article cleared things up for you on what you should be looking for.