What is an Accessory Drive Belt?

You are here: Home » Blog » What is an Accessory Drive Belt?
changing brakes

Automobiles have hundreds of parts and things that work together that make it function properly. Knowing the function and purpose of all of them is quite difficult, unless you are trained in the area. However, there are some things you just need to know for the longevity of your vehicle: when to get an oil change, when to change a belt, and even when to purchase new tires, for instance.

An accessory drive belt is a belt that drives all of the accessories that are in the engine of your vehicle. These accessories include the alternator, the water pump, the air conditioner compressor, and the power steering pump. Without the drive belt, none of the aforementioned accessories would work properly.

You may also hear an accessory drive belt referred to as a serpentine belt, an alternator belt, a fan belt, or simply just a drive belt. Don’t let the terminology confuse you, they are all the same thing.

Some vehicles have 2 accessory drive belts, while some only have 1 belt. The number of belts depends on the size and use of the vehicle.

Dirt, oil, and water will cause your accessory drive belt to deteriorate overtime, quicker than it normally would.

Who Invented the Accessory Drive Belt?

A company called Dayco invented the 1st accessory drive belt in the 1970s. Since then, they have invented so many belts for different vehicles and designs. Dayco is a leader in manufacturing automotive parts for construction, agriculture, and other industry vehicles.

What is an Accessory Belt Made of?

An accessory drive belt is made of very strong rubber. The rubber is purposed to be extremely durable, withstand a lot of friction, and be oil resistant.

How Long Does an Accessory Drive Belt Last?

Typically, these belts will last you about 45,000 to 75,000 miles depending on your driving habits. Some vehicle’s belts last longer—but consult your vehicle’s manual to look at the appropriate time tables for vehicle maintenance.

How Often Should My Accessory Drive Belt be Inspected?

The accessory belt is in use each and every time you turn on your vehicle and for the entire time that it is running. It gets a lot of use and needs to be cared for properly. Therefore, an accessory drive belt should be inspected during routine maintenance, as often as every oil change.

How do I Know if My Belt Needs to be Replaced?

  • Damaged sidewalls– If the sidewalls of your belt are frayed, it can be pulled into the mechanism and cause a major malfunction. This can also cause the belt to look really shiny and will cause your vehicle to make noise.
  • Uneven wear– If one of the ridges on the belt has more wear than the others, it will cause a thumping noise under the hood. This can be caused by an unsuspected object in the in the pulley or in the belt.
  • Random cracking– Random cracks in the belt can be caused by high temperature changes. Going from really hot to really cold temperatures, or vice versa, can cause small random cracks throughout the belt, in addition to the pulleys.

Chunks missing– Big chunks missing from the belt, can cause the belt to fail, and your car to stop at any moment. It is caused by several small random cracks happen in one centralized location. This cracking is also caused by weather changes, age of the belt itself and stress from the movement of the pulleys.

Just because the visible side of a drive belt does not look worn or frayed, does not mean that the underside is in good condition.

If you hear squeaking, squealing, or chirping noises coming from your vehicle, it is likely that somehow dirt, oil, or water, has gotten onto the belt. You should immediately have your vehicle looked at when you start to hear these noises. If you wait to take your vehicle in, you will run the risk of the belt breaking. Once it breaks, you will not be able to drive your vehicle. A broken drive belt can cause your engine to overheat, your alternator to stop working, and your wheel not to turn.

How Much is it to Replace?

The replacement of an accessory drive belt depends on the type of vehicle that you have, and your mechanic’s prices. The total cost of the replacement can range from $80-$315. Now, it is very possible for you to replace the belt yourself; however, not all vehicles are the same. So, you may want to do some research for guides to get it done. You can go into any auto parts store and tell them what you need and the type of vehicle you drive, and they will be able to match your vehicle with the appropriate belt.

As you can see, accessory drive belts are extremely important to the life of any vehicle. Accessory drive belts should be replaced as soon as signs of wear and tear arise, for your safety and the safety of other drivers on the road.