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Automotive Q & A

Serpentine Belts

Question: How do serpentine belts work?

Answer: A Serpentine Belt is a multi-ribbed belt that powers almost everything in the front of your engine. The Serpentine Belt’s name comes from its resemblance to a snake, or serpent, in the way it wraps itself around so many different pulleys. It powers the crankshaft, which controls your engine’s pistons; power steering; alternator, which generates the electrical currents to power everything electrical in the car; air conditioner; and the water pump, just to name a few. The water pump may be the most important part powered by the Serpentine Belt. The water pump is an integral part of your engine’s cooling system. If your engine’s water pump failed, the engine could overheat and cease to operate. Older vehicles used to use several belts to drive all of your engine’s parts. Now, a single Serpentine Belt can handle all of these jobs.

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