What is a serpentine belt and when should I have it replaced?
The serpentine belt drives most of the power-assisted components of your car including the air-conditioner's compressor, power steering pump, water pump and the alternator.
When your serpentine belt gets worn it no longer grips the pulleys of the components it drives properly. This may cause your alternator to not charge your system the way it should or your power steering to be jerky or your air-conditioner compressor to run at less than full power.
Repair the belt immediately if it shows signs of wear. After all, a broken serpentine belt is the number one mechanical reason for roadside assistance.
Most shops visually inspect the serpentine belt during routine services like oil changes. A trusted service adviser will let you know when it needs to be changed.
Anthony Belcher, Sensible Driver's Service & Parts Reporter, contributed to this writeup.