How To Clean Serpentine Belt? When Should You Replace It?

Are you curious about how to clean serpentine belt?

The serpentine pulley belt is a small but mighty part of your car. And if it malfunctions, you can find yourself stranded on the side of the road waiting for a tow truck.

That’s why you must check, clean, and maintain it periodically. Even if you are a novice, don’t worry; the next sections will show you how! Let’s get started!

What Should You Know About The Serpentine Belt?

how to clean serpentine belt

Before learning how to clean a serpentine belt or handle a contaminated serpentine belt, it’s advisable to know more about it first. What is this? And what is it used for?

What Is It?

The serpentine belt (or so-called fan/accessory belt) is a long rubber chain that supplies power for the alternator, air conditioning compressor, power steering pump, (sometimes) water pump, and other accessories.

As important as it is, all of these components will stop operating if this belt breaks.

The A/C will stop working, your battery will eventually fail, and the engine will overheat. Additionally, it might harm the engine accessories that it powers.

How Does It Work?

Different from a drive belt, the fan belt uses a belt tensioner pulley, it transmits energy from the engine crankshaft to all other components.

Most modern automobiles have a single belt, continually in motion whenever the vehicle is operating.

Differences Between Serpentine Belt Vs. Timing Belt

Your car’s engine valves are linked to the crankshaft by a timing belt, allowing the exhaust and intake valves to open and close simultaneously and smoothly.

Based on the different sorts of grooves they have, it is simple to distinguish between them. Timing belts feature horizontal grooves, whereas serpentine belts have vertical ones.

How To Clean Serpentine Belt

How to clean serpentine belt pulleys

How to clean serpentine belt pulleys? You may need to prepare some tools first. And the whole process may take 15 to 20 minutes, depending on your knowledge and experience.

What Should You Use To Clean It?

To finish this task smoothly and have the best result, you should prepare these basic ones:

  • Warm water
  • Dishwasher liquid or dedicated cleaning products
  • A soft cloth or wire brush

In addition, if you have to face belt noise or belt squeal, a belt squeal spray or belt dressing serpentine can help.

How To Clean

Cleaning helps stop belt spray squealing and maintains its quality.

You can clean serpentine belt without removing it; however, we will show you how to do this task by taking it out for better outcomes:

  • Remove the wiper blades and any additional parts from the windshield wipers before disconnecting the battery wires.
  • Before taking the belt out, ensure the engine is cool; otherwise, you risk getting burned.
  • Then you must set a sizable pan underneath your engine to catch any fuel spills or fall off its components before they cause any harm.
  • Wash it with a soft-bristled brush or by hand to remove extra dust and dirt. This step is considered as one of belt squeal fixes, and it also removes serpentine belt grease.
  • Clean belt surface with a special sprayer or a diluted mixture of water and dishwashing liquid or dish soap (the belt stops squeaking when sprayed with water).
  • Reinstall it after drying it with a gentle cloth.

Avoid dropping coolant on serpentine belts or brake cleaner on serpentine belts, as they can harm this part.

Keep Your Belt In Good Shape

Always assemble it in the correct order to avoid breakage or damage due to incorrect installation.

To keep it in the best condition, you need to check and maintain it regularly. Remember to keep the serpentine belt properly tight.

When Should You Replace Your Serpentine Belt?

When Should You Replace Your Serpentine Belt

There will come a time when you need to replace this part when maintenance can no longer keep its standard status. Some signs below indicate it’s time for a replacement.

Visual Symptoms

A serpentine belt replacement is needed as soon as possible if you find that it is crooked, cracked, or shiny due to an engine oil leak while performing a visual check under the hood.

An out-of-alignment one will wear down the belt unevenly and damage it completely in the end.

Oil and lubricants will deteriorate the belt, causing premature failure. Treat any damage as if it had fully failed.

Non-visual Symptoms

This one on most newer cars will last 60,000 to 100,000 miles. If your owner’s handbook recommends replacing the aged belt after your 75,000-mile maintenance, it is advisable to follow their advice.

Next, the failure to transfer power to critical components in your car will illuminate the check engine light if a pulley or tensioner is out of line and causes belt slip.

To keep that catastrophic scenario at bay, it is advisable to perform a diagnostic test.

When the automobile is idle, accelerating, or even just after the ignition engages, you might hear a screaming noise from the belt under the vehicle.

It signals that you should check a grooved pulley, tensioner, or the complete system immediately and possibly fix the bad belt.


What If The Oil Gets On Serpentine?

The rubber on it will eventually deteriorate and come off if there is oil.

And it’s not unusual for deteriorated strap rubber to swell and become too large to fit in the clean pulleys. Therefore, you should wipe any liquid under your car.

A slippery steering wheel may become challenging to turn. As we previously stated, this happens due to the lack of power steering. As you drive, this puts you in danger.

Can I Lubricate The Serpentine Belt?

No. Rubber ones are kept from drying out and sliding by applying belt dressing.

While WD-40 or other lubricants may temporarily stop this part from squeaking, doing so won’t make the issue completely disappear.

Therefore, we do not advise using lubricants on rubber products.

Can You Spray WD40 On Serpentine Belt?

Yes, but not recommended.

A lubricating spray known as WD 40 was initially created to keep engine parts like wiper blades moving freely and prevent rust.

Although WD 40 wasn’t meant to be used on this part (not a belt stop squeal spray), several users have experienced success using this.

Use with caution because it could damage the single belt or pulleys if sprayed directly on them. Instead, it would help if you sprayed it on the belt drive components.

If you apply WD-40 on it, you should wipe off any excess so it can’t pour into your car’s downside. Then, wipe off the bottom of your hood.


How to clean serpentine belt? You’ve got the answer to it!

This task is easy, and it may take you from 15 to 20 minutes only. You don’t need to prepare too much, just some tools with our guidelines.

Avoid dropping any liquid on your belt, except dedicated products or diluting water and dishwasher liquid.

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