How Much Does Serpentine Belt Replacement Cost?

Serpentine Belt Replacement Cost

The serpentine belt is the reason your car’s AC and other important components are working perfectly.

If the belt stops rotating, quite a number of components will stop working, including the alternator, water pump, AC, and power steering. So, this shows how important the serpentine belt is. But how much does serpentine belt replacement cost?

Serpentine belt replacement goes from $100 to $250, depending on multiple factors. The serpentine belt costs less than $150, while the rest is labor.

An auto electrician should replace the serpentine belt to ensure that it is installed correctly and the connected vital components are not affected.

What Does the Serpentine Belt Do?

The function of the serpentine belt is to drive specific components to work; as the serpentine belt rotates along its axis, it activates the operation of all components connected to it. This belt is also called the “alternator belt” or “drive belt.”

Serpentine belts transfer mechanical power from the crankshaft into rotary motions needed to drive components like the alternator, AC compressor, power steering, etc.

Of course, these belts are built so strong to resist any form of stress and tension. However, they degrade or slide out of position over time, causing the belt to fail.

A bad serpentine belt can make driving really uncomfortable because many things would stop working; the AC unit, power steering, alternator, and supercharger (if your car has a supercharged engine). So, this is a very important engine component.

How Much Does Serpentine Belt Replacement Cost?

A few factors will affect the total cost you may pay for a serpentine belt replacement. These factors include the belt price, labor cost, and whether the old/damaged belt causes any issues. Basically, serpentine belts cost from $40 to $70 (for the belt alone), and labor costs usually start around $80.

The average cost of serpentine belt replacement is between $100 and $150. You will pay more if the mechanic has to fix one or more components that worsen due to the previous (bad) serpentine belt.

You might be paying over five hundred bucks on miscellaneous repairs if the old damaged serpentine belt affected the components it powers.

Serpentine belt replacement can be DIYed to save on labor costs, but it is best advised to have a professional auto electrician handle the installation. This is because the electrician would look into the other components powered by the belt and identify which of them got affected, so you can fix or replace them at a go.

More so, even if the serpentine belt is not yet damaged, it is advisable to have it changed after three years or 50,000 - 80,000 miles; at this time, the belt is poised to be weak and unable to drive its components to high efficiency. So, serpentine belt replacement is not only when the belt goes bad entirely.

Signs of Serpentine Belt Replacement

When a serpentine belt starts to fail, you will notice a couple of usual signs while driving. Yes, serpentine belt failure may not trigger the check engine light to come on, but it would cause the following scenarios to occur:

  • AC stops cooling or stops working entirely
  • The power steering stops working
  • Car battery won’t charge properly, leading to electrical faults or “no start.”
  • Loud, unusual sounds when driving - the noise of the belt squealing.
  • Constant engine overheating

These signs may occur concurrently or simultaneously. So, when you start noticing any of these, it is best to check the serpentine belt. Notwithstanding, these signs could depict other engine problems, so you may want to use an OBD-II scanner to troubleshoot the car and find out what actually went wrong.

Frequently Asked Questions

What happens if the serpentine belt breaks while driving?

A lot of components will immediately stop working, and this includes the alternator. So, if the serpentine belt fails while driving, your car’s battery will stop charging, the AC unit will begin to malfunction, and the steering wheel may become a bit stiff due to the power steering not functioning.

Can you drive with a broken serpentine belt?

You cannot drive the car if the belt has gone bad completely. This is because the belt powers the alternator that charges the battery; if the battery is not charged while driving, once you stop the car, it’s practically impossible to start the engine again unless you jumpstart it. The serpentine belt drives very important components that make a car drive.

Can you start a car without a serpentine belt?

The simple answer is YES, but only if the battery is charged. Once the battery is charged, you can always start the car. However, since the serpentine belt drives the alternator that charges the car battery while driving, driving without the belt means the battery won’t be charged. So, whenever the current charge held by the batter depletes, that’s the end of the journey for you.