Nothing is annoying like driving in a noisy vehicle.
Not only can squeaking noises be potential damage to your vehicle, but also be a cause of distraction- which could likely cause accidents. (Source)
In this guide, I shall take you through some of the most effective ways to how to make serpentine belt stop squeaking.
What Is A Serpentine Belt And Its Functions?
A serpentine belt, aka fan belt, is a flat and continuous rubber loop located on the front part of the engine.
The serpentine belt transfers power from the crankshaft to several engine accessories like the power steering pump, air conditioning, and the alternator.
Energy transfer occurs through a series of pulleys that curl like a snake, hence the name.
The inside part of this belt comes with ribs and grooves that help it stay in place when the engine runs and help enhance drive friction.
Wear and tear on the inner section of the serpentine belt could result in squeaky sounds.
While older cars come with several belts, modern varieties have only one that powers all engine accessories.
This means that when the belt fails, your car will grind into a halt, or several functions will stop working.
What Causes A Serpentine Belt To Squeak?
Mainly, squeals occur when the serpentine cannot stay in position in any of the pulleys.
The most common reason why the serpentine belt glides out of position is moisture on the inside part.
So, where could this moisture be coming from?
Mostly from leaking engine accessories.
If any of the accessories is leaking, the fluid will be splashed onto the belt, causing it to slide off the pulleys. Other common reasons include:
If you notice the squeal right after installing a new serpentine belt, likely, the process was not done right.
You should ensure that the mechanic tensions the belt and adequately re-tensions a few minutes after starting the engine to ensure that it’s tight enough to stay in position.
Wear and Tear
Rubber belts are prone to wear and tear, just like most things in life. Over time, your car’s serpentine belt may become glazed, cracked, or brittle.
This reduces its overall effectiveness, and eventually, the belt will start to slip from the pulley system, resulting in that annoying squeal.
The grooves may also get too deep, and this can also cause unpleasant noises.
Extreme Weather Conditions
Extreme weather reduces the serpentine belt’s stiffness. You will notice the squeal when you start the car, and the sound will disappear after driving a few miles or when the weather improves.
Misaligned Tensioner Or Pulley
If a misaligned belt is not the problem, the tensioner or pulley system may not be aligned well.
A mechanic can tell which parts are not appropriately placed and quickly put them back to the right position through a simple inspection.
Ways on How To Make Serpentine Belt Stop Squeaking
As highlighted above, there are several reasons why your serpentine belt is squeaking. The steps you take will depend on the root cause.
If you hear the squeak when starting the engine, turning, or accelerating, the belt could be loose or worn out.
A continuous squeal points to a pulley or tensioner system issue.
A mechanic is best suited to handle a squeaky serpentine issue. However, there are a few things that you can try before going to the mechanic.
Check The Belt For Wear
Wear and tear on a serpentine belt is pretty apparent.
If you notice that the belt has slipped on a pulley or two, it indicates that you need a new belt.
You may also notice wear signs on the belt edges. If the belt is worn out, start making plans to replace it before it fails.
A worn belt will also be much thinner than a new one, and the grooves get deeper. You may need a belt gauge to check the depth of the tracks.
A water test is also perfect for diagnosing if the squeak is wear-related.
This test should take you about 5 minutes, and all you need is a spray bottle.
Turn the car engine on, turn it to low-idle and use a spray bottle to squirt water on the inside part of your belt.
If you notice an increase in noise, the belt may be worn or loose.
You may want to wear some goggles when doing this test as some of the water may splash back at you. If the belt is the problem, fix it ASAP.
Check For Spills
If the belt looks shiny, there may be a fluid contaminating it. Check for oil, coolant, or grease leaks or spills on the belt.
It’s advisable to quickly stop the spill as these contaminants will interfere with the belt’s function and deteriorate the material.
Check The Pulley Alignment
To check the pulley alignment, you must loosen or remove the belt. Only proceed with this step if you know what you are doing.
Once the belt is off, the pulleys should spin quietly and freely.
Any friction or grinding noise indicates that the bearings are damaged or worn and need to be replaced.
To be sure that the bearings are a problem, mark the edge or face of the pulley with a grease pencil or chalk before reattaching the belt.
Start the engine and check if the mark and the squeaking noise align.
If they do, the bearings are worn out.
It may not be all the bearings that need replacement. Your mechanic should quickly identify the defective one and replace it.
If the bearings are OK, the pulley may be misaligned.
Since the pulleys are usually tightly secured to the engine system, you need a bit of strength and some hardware to push it back in position.
Can You Spray Wd40 On The Serpentine Belt?
No, it’s never a good idea to spray wd40 on the serpentine belt. Wd40 may damage the rubber compounds in the serpentine belt.
You may notice a temporary drop in the noise, or the lubricant may make the situation worse.
If you want to quiet the squeak, other better solutions will not compromise your serpentine belt. These include:
Use Belt Dressing Spray
A perfect example I would highly recommend is Permatex 80073 Belt Dressing and Conditioner.
This is an aerosol dressing that will improve friction on the ribbed side of the serpentine belt.
The spray may also remove water and contaminants that may be causing the squeak.
However, you must remember that the dressing is a temporary solution.
The situation will only get worse if you do not address the underlying problem.
Also, note that the lubricant may make the rubber stretch or slip, so the problem may worsen when its friction effect wears off.
Can You Put Soap On A Belt?
The fastest and simplest way to deal with a squeaky serpentine belt would be to spray some soapy water for starters.
Just like the belt squeal spray, a bar of soap may quiet the noise, but it’s not recommended to do this all the time.
However, this method only gives temporary relief, unlike the belt dressing spray, a long-term solution.
On How To Make Serpentine Belt Stop Squeaking
Above are some of the best methods on How To Make Serpentine Belt Stop Squeaking.
The diagnostic process is straightforward, and there are enough solutions to quiet the noise before addressing the root cause.
A serpentine belt helps keep your car running.
When you notice the noise from this part of the engine, get it fixed fast before the belt quits on you in the middle of nowhere.
Fortunately, serpentine belt-related issues are not as expensive to fix, and you can save on costs if you get them fixed during your regular maintenance.
Meet Mike O’Connor, (a DIY enthusiast), living in Cincinnati, a city ranked as the noisiest in the USA.
As a work from home dad, I have a first hand experience of how noise can truly affect your well being.
Soundproofing isn’t something that should be taken as a hobby, it should be a skill that every homeowner should be equipped with.
Most of the work documented on this blog comes from purely first hand experience, and the products recommended work as indicated.