Serpentine Belt

The serpentine belt is used in a lot of cars and it gets its name from the way it winds itself through the car, much like a snake would wind itself around something. A serpentine belt is simply a belt that is continuous and is used to drive many different devices or parts of a vehicle engine. For instance, a serpentine belt may help to drive the alternator, the power steering pump, the water pump, air conditioner compressor, and even the air pump.

While the serpentine belt is used by a lot of different vehicles today, it was not actually used in a vehicle until 1979. Jim Vance, who worked for the Gates Rubber Company developed the belt and it was first seen in a vehicle with the Ford Motor Company when they introduced their 1979 Ford Mustang to the public.

Many people who were accustomed to the multiple belt system that was used in the past didn't like the serpentine belt when it was first introduced. Yet, as time as gone on most have to admit that the serpentine belt is actually much more efficient than the system of many different belts which were all running their own device. Many now like the serpentine belt because the wider serpentine belt can be put under more tension without actually stretching it, and the higher tension a belt is able to take on the better, as higher tension always means less slip, which means greater belt life as well as enhanced mechanical efficiency.

Many people don't like to use the serpentine belt because it may use a system of idle pulleys and/or a belt tensioner. Despite this, the reduced slip that is found in the serpentine belt allows the use of lower ratio pulleys and this effectively reduces the load on the engine, which improves power as well as gas mileage. The one drawback that a lot of people site about the serpentine belt is that when it breaks the driver will lose a lot of their systems and the car may not be functional or may be difficult to drive. This is problematic, but it is actually a good thing because when a car has many different belts a driver may not know that a belt has been broken until there has been substantial damage to one of more engine components.

To balance the pros and the cons of using a serpentine belt many manufacturers are choosing to use two different serpentine belt. This way, if one of the belts does break, the other one will continue working other aspects of the vehicle. One such vehicle with two serpentine belts is the DOHC Nissan Maxima. This vehicle was set up for two serpentine belts from 1995 through 1999.

One issue that a lot of people have with the serpentine belt is replacing it. It's true that with the pulley system it can be complicated to get the belt going in the right direction and to get it set to the right tension. This does take patience and in some vehicles it is much more obvious where the belt needs to go than in others. While there is more effort involved in installing such a belt, most people will find that the belt will last anywhere from 25 to 50% longer.

The fact of the matter is that a lot of people never know that they have a serpentine belt until it goes out. If you don't do your own auto maintenance you may not ever notice that what you have is one continuous belt. Of course, when it goes out and steering becomes difficult suddenly you'll be very aware that you have a serpentine belt!

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