6 Symptoms Of A Loose Alternator Belt (& Replacement Cost)

It doesn’t matter if you have owned a car for a few years or decades; you have probably heard about a loose alternator belt before.

However, how can you determine when it's time to change it or tighten it? Does it work on every car model?

This article will discuss the signs and costs of replacing an alternator belt that is worn or damaged. Let’s begin with a quick look at the signs to look for:

An indicator of loose alternator belts is usually a warning light that appears on the dashboard. When the engine is cool, you may also hear a clicking sound from your belt. Loose belts can be the cause of flickering and heavy steering.

Not only does the alternator drive the belt, but many other components in the engine bay. It can also cause many problems.

This is a detailed listing of all 6 symptoms that indicate a defective or loose alternator belt.

Índice de Contenido
  1. Loose Alternator Belt Signs
    1. 1. Alarm Light for Battery/Alternator
    2. 2. Cold makes squealing sounds
    3. 3. Heavy or heavy steering
    4. 4. You can flickering and dimming lights
    5. 5. Sudden Stall
    6. 6. Dead Battery
  2. Simply tighten it, or replace it.
  3. Alternator Belt Location
  4. Alternator Belt Replacement Cost

Loose Alternator Belt Signs

1. Alarm Light for Battery/Alternator

Battery Light On

The alternator (or serpentine belt) is the power source for the alternator. It will cause it to struggle if the belt becomes loose. Most car models have a warning light that lights up when the charging system is failing.

The alternator may not turn at the optimal speed if the belt is worn. This can lead to a drop in the voltage and the warning light popping up.

RELATED: 8 Common Reasons Your Car Lights On while Driving

2. Cold makes squealing sounds

Noise In Car

Most people have heard the hum of older models when cold starts, but it will eventually fade as the engine warms.

The problem is caused by a loose alternator Belt, which can become slippery and wet in colder temperatures and make a loud noise when it slips.

You should check your alternator belt if you hear a loud pitch when the engine starts. If the belt is constantly loose, you may also hear a high pitched sound.

3. Heavy or heavy steering

Turn Steering Wheel E1609947180429

The alternator, or serpentine belt, powers the alternator as well as other components like the power steering pumps. While some cars have separate belts for the alternator or power steering pump, most use one.

The alternator belt may also affect the function of the power steering pump, which you'll recognize as a "jigger" or heavy steering.

4. You can flickering and dimming lights

Dim Headlights Car

The alternator will charge the battery with approximately 14.5 volts when it is charging it. The car battery will usually have between 12 and 12.5 volts when it is not in use. The voltage can also spike and drop if the alternator doesn't work properly due to a loose or slipping belt.

This voltage shifting can usually be identified by looking at electronic parts such as the headlights. Sometimes you will see the light change in brightness or color, while others may also experience a pulse.

5. Sudden Stall

Engine Stall

It can be dangerous to drive very long with an alternator belt that is loose or slippy. The electronic parts can draw more power from the alternator than it can.

You will experience a complete stalling of your car and will be left stranded on the roads.

Related: 6 Signs You Have a Bad Alternator

6. Dead Battery

Dead Car Battery

The alternator belt can be a bit loose and charge your car's battery, but it is not enough. When you try to start your car, this is the most obvious sign. It could be an indication of a worn alternator belt.

It can also cause your car's battery to go completely dead if it is severe enough.

Simply tighten it, or replace it.

Cracked Serpentine Belt

You need to inspect the belt in order to determine whether it is time for you replace the belt or tighten it. You should replace it if the belt is cracked or very dry.

It is important to compare your new belt with your existing belt before you buy it. Different car models may have different lengths of belts, depending on their utilities, such as air condition or power steering.

It is important to not over tighten your alternator belt. You will have a shorter life span and could even cause damage to bearings such as the alternator or the power steering pump.

Modern cars have an automatic belt tensioner, which makes it very unlikely that your belt can become loose. But it does happen. You should replace your alternator belt while the tensioner is replaced if the belt becomes loose.

Alternator Belt Location

Serpentine Belt

You will find the alternator belt on the engine's front. The alternator belt is located on the back of the vehicle, but it can also be installed in the sideways position.

It is easy to find the alternator belt in almost all cars. Just look around for belts that go around wheels and you'll most likely locate it.

In some car models, the belt can be located quite low down in the engine bay and close to the car’s body, making it difficult to see from above. You may need to raise the car so you can inspect it from below.

Alternator Belt Replacement Cost

The cost of replacing an alternator belt is typically between $50 and $300, depending on which car you drive. The cost of an alternator belt is $20-$100, and the labor to replace it costs $30-$200.

Alternator belts are often very inexpensive, so it is worth learning how to change and tighten them yourself.

Like I mentioned before, modern automobiles have an automated belt tensioner. This means that if there is a problem with the belt or a damaged part, then you will need to have it replaced. These tensioners are often slightly more pricey, and you can expect to pay $30 – $150 for a new one.

The alternator can be installed very closely on the car’s body, making it very difficult to reach it. You may have to lift the engine or lower it depending on which car model you are using.

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