What Is A Serpentine Belt And Why Is It Important?

If you look on one side or the front of your Ford engine, you’ll find the serpentine belt path. It’s a cluster of pulleys and a long synthetic rubber belt that snakes around these pulleys. The belt is aptly called the serpentine belt.

The serpentine belt is important for the engine and other parts of the car. It transfers power from the engine to the components of the car. Serpentine belts are present in all cars and have been used for many years now. Read on to find out what a serpentine belt is and why it’s important.

What Does A Serpentine Belt Look Like?

Ford serpentine belt

A serpentine belt is a long continuous belt made of synthetic rubber and fiber cord. The outer side of the serpentine belt is smooth. The inner side is ribbed, to help the belt grab onto the pulleys better.

How A Serpentine Belt Works

Serpentine belts work by transferring power from the crankshaft to various accessories, such as:

  • Air conditioner
  • Alternator
  • Water pump
  • Power steering pump
  • More

By powering various parts, the serpentine belt plays a big role in the smooth operation of the engine and related parts. For example, it helps keep the engine coolant at optimum temperatures.

Ford timing belt

If you look at a Ford serpentine belt diagram, you'll see a cluster of pulleys, a Ford serpentine belt tensioner, and an idler pulley.

  • Each pulley (except the idler pulley) connects to a certain part, such as the water pump.
  • An idler pulley changes the path of the serpentine belt, to help route it in a way so it doesn't interfere with other engine components.
  • A serpentine belt tensioner is a device that keeps the slack in the belt under control to ensure the belt does not come off while driving. A tensioner may be a simple spring-loaded bolt, or a more complex mechanism operated by hydraulic means.

The serpentine belt wraps around each pulley, as well as the tensioner. It also wraps around the crankshaft pulley. When you start up the engine, the crankshaft starts spinning. This causes the serpentine belt to spin, as well. The serpentine belt's contact with all the pulleys cause the pulleys to spin. This powers all the parts connected to these pulleys.

What Happens When A Serpentine Belt Fails

failed serpentine belt

A serpentine belt can fail for many reasons. The most common reason is to due to breaks in the belt. This is a common problem that usually happens when the engine has put in a lot of miles and the belt begins to wear out. The belt may also break if it's not the correct size or if there are any clamping devices that are not working properly.

If the belt breaks, it can cause serious problems for your engine. For example, the parts powered by the serpentine belt will stop working. If these parts, such as the cooling fan or the water pump, stop working, you may have a more expensive repair job than just changing the serpentine belt.

It's wise to inspect your serpentine belt on a regular basis. You should check your belt at least once every 3 months. Make sure it doesn't have any cracks or missing pieces. Also, make sure that it is tight around all the pulleys.

Keep A Spare Serpentine Belt In Your Ford

It’s worth investing in a spare serpentine belt to keep in your Ford. In case your serpentine belt fails on the road, you can pull over and replace it. Be sure to keep a serpentine belt tool or the correct wrenches in your vehicle, too. It'll make replacing a serpentine belt much easier.

You'll find a good deal with us. We carry genuine OEM Ford serpentine belts at wholesale pricing. This serpentine belt for 2010-2019 F-150 and F-350 trucks is one of our best sellers. Please contact us if you need help finding the right OEM serpentine belt for your Ford vehicle. We're always happy to help!