The serpentine belt, also known as the drive belt, is a long, winding belt that is responsible for keeping your alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning, and sometimes your water pump running smoothly. In older vehicles, multiple belts used to handle these various functions. However, since each belt wore out at varying rates drivers experienced poor performance and an increased amount of maintenance or repair to the multiple belts. The switch to a single belt eliminated these minor performance issues, but the single belt being responsible for all these functions makes maintenance imperative. A broken serpentine belt will stop your engine from running.
Fortunately, because they are so important to your engine, newer serpentine belts are made of high quality reinforced rubber strands that are banded together and built to last. Older neoprene rubber belts generally last up to 50,000 miles or for 5 years. The newer belts are made of Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer and can last anywhere between 60,000 to 100,000 miles before requiring replacement.
Since it is subjected to high temperatures and friction, it will face a heavy amount of wear. The belt should be checked periodically for signs of this and also to make sure it is maintaining tension properly. Some engines need the tension manually adjusted while others have tensioners that manage this automatically. These tensioners can also wear out over time and require servicing or repair.
Symptoms of an Aging Serpentine Belt
Beyond that, there is no ongoing maintenance that can extend the life of the belt, so diligence in replacing it at the right time is the only way to prevent you from being stranded. The following signs will let you know it may be time to have that done:
Power Steering and Air Conditioning Not Working
Since this belt powers both of those systems in your car it is obvious that these would be impacted by a failing drive belt. However, these could fail for other reasons, so additional issues could help pinpoint the drive belt as the culprit.
Squealing Sound from the Engine
If the belt is slipping or not aligned properly it will make a loud squeaking or squealing sound. There are other belts that could also do this, but combined with power steering or air conditioner issues, it’s a good indicator of a serpentine belt going bad.
The serpentine belt powers the cooling system in your engine. An overheating engine would be a sign that it’s not working properly, but is also a serious problem that should be diagnosed by a professional mechanic as it could do damage requiring costly repairs to other areas of your engine.
When to Replace the Serpentine Belt
Your Land Rover’s owners manual can also clue you into when you should start paying attention to this part’s performance and consider replacement. However, there are numerous factors that can increase the wear on the drive belt, including how you use your Land Rover.
If you regularly take it off-roading versus only driving it short distances on paved roads it will wear out more quickly. In addition, constant exposure to changes in temperature could impact the elasticity of the belt, so if you live in a colder climate this is an important consideration. An experienced mechanic can also do a visual inspection for you to look for chunks missing, rib separation, cracks, uneven rib wear, and erosion of the belt. It is best to replace the belt before you notice any of the issues mentioned. Once it’s reached that state your risk of creating even greater damage to other areas of the engine is high.
Preventative Maintenance with Experienced Professionals
The best way to avoid costly, unexpected repairs related to the serpentine belt is regular preventive maintenance. While the belt itself cannot be maintained, the components that keep it working should be checked, and an experienced technician should be visually inspecting the drive belt on an annual basis.
Our ASE-certified team at Green Garage European Auto Centre in Winter Park and Orlando, FL are familiar with your Land Rover. They can recommend a maintenance schedule that includes factory-recommended services that will help protect your vehicle from unexpected engine failure and keep it running smoothly while also prolonging the life and performance of your Land Rover.