Fan Belt Replacement Tips

Serpentine belt in an engine

Fan belt replacement is a simple auto repair for most cars. It only takes a few minutes on easy-to-access models, and it’s a job you can accomplish even if you have no knowledge of cars. These days the fan belt is known as the serpentine belt and runs much more than the fan. Although it’s straightforward, there are little tips that can make the work go faster and more smoothly, making your fan belt replacement a snap.

Step 1 - When To Replace

If your belt snaps, then you need to replace it. You can prevent that situation happening if you look at your belt every time you check under the hood of your car. You need to check the belt for any unusual or excessive wear or to see if it’s frayed at all. If you find any cracks in the belt or it’s rubbed down and frayed, do a fan belt replacement before you become stranded.

Step 2 - Correct Belt

comparing to automotive belts

You need to be absolutely sure you have the right fan belt replacement for your vehicle. That means not just the length (although you ideally want one fractionally shorter than your current belt to allow it to stretch) but also the right shape. There are several different configurations of serpentine belt, such as a “V” shape. Be certain the new one matches the old one before you put it on your vehicle.

If you’re in doubt as to what you need, go to an auto parts store and ask. They’ll have a manual that will match you up with exactly the item you need. It’s much better than guessing.

Step 3 - Remove the Belt

To remove the old belt for a fan belt replacement, you’ll need to slip it off the pulleys. Do this by loosening the tension in one of the pulleys with a wrench. When you look, it will be quite apparent which bolt you need to loosen. You won’t need to loosen it that much, just enough to slip off the old belt will be adequate. Take a picture of the belt path for reference when you install the new one.

Step 4 - Put On the New Belt

replacing a serpentine belt

The new belt has to follow the exact same path as the old one. If you’re not certain what this is, there should be a diagram under the hood to illustrate it for you. Don’t worry if the belt is a tight fit, as you want some tension on it. Fit the belt then tighten the tensioner bolt. This is the only tricky part. You don’t want the belt to be too tight, or it won’t turn properly. There should be a little give in it when you push down on it with your hand.

Step 5 - Test

You can judge if the belt is tight enough quite easily. Turn on the engine, then crank up the air conditioner. If the belt turns without squealing and the A/C works well, you have it correctly adjusted. If the belt does start to squeal a little not long after the fan belt replacement, don’t worry. This is quite common. All you need to do is tighten the belt tensioner a little, and it will go away.