Updated at: 03-08-2023 - By: Lucas

In a car’s engine area, you may have noticed a long rubber-like belt that connects several moving pieces. Rubber serpentine belts are used to hold the rotating accessories in place as they are being rotated.

Spiral-belt driven engine components include the water pump, compressor, air-conditioning compressor, and alternator. Idler and crankshaft pulleys are used to keep this belt in motion and transfer power efficiently.

A automobile without a serpentine belt has a tough time rotating the steering wheel since there is no hydraulic pressure to keep the steering wheel in place. As long as you can drive without a serpentine belt, the importance of the belt should be based on your own personal concerns. It’s possible to drive a car without the serpentine belt, but it won’t function properly. If you don’t have a serpentine belt, you can still drive the vehicle for a short distance.

In addition to the engine cooling and steering power pump, the serpentine belt is critical to a number of engine-related functions. Coolant flow is aided by this belt in preventing engine overheating.

How long can you drive a car without a serpentine belt?

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Between 1 and 2 miles or 20 and 90 minutes, you can drive your car without a serpentine belt. High temperatures and the design of the car, for example, affect this. Running without the auxiliary belt might have a considerable impact on the vehicle model or version.

Drive belts are used to connect various engine components in older models of cars. However, today’s automobiles only use a single serpentine belt to power all of the engine’s accessories, despite the fact that there are several pulleys on the serpentine belt.

It’s important to remember that driving without a serpentine belt is a dangerous endeavor, as the steering wheel will have a tough time rotating at high speeds.

The common problems of a serpentine belt leading to its failure

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The serpentine belt is susceptible to a number of frequent issues. Included are.

1. Wear and tear

Even though the rubber used to make the serpentine belt is robust, it eventually wears out and needs to be replaced. Intense friction occurs when it passes over a series of metallic pulleys, resulting in wear. The failure to operate can be caused by overstretching for an extended period of time, tearing from thinness, or fissures.

2. Tensioner Bearing or idler pulley issues

The idler pulleys of most serpentine belts are tensioner bearings. The serpentine belt can fail if these parts fail to function properly.

3. Contamination by oils

If you buy a new timing belt, don’t be surprised if it breaks within a week. There are things like oils on its surfaces that you discover when you examine it out. If coolant or oil is seeping out of the serpentine belt, this is a typical problem. The serpentine belt is drenched in oil.

4. Issues with hydraulic belt tensioner

The serpentine belt will fail if a tensioner that serves as a shock absorber is destroyed. Because of this, the driver should take measures to fix the tensioner.

5. Bad automatic spring loading belt tensioner

The spring-loaded automated belt tensioner is designed to keep the serpentine belt in proper tension. Severe wear and damage might result if there is insufficient tension in the serpentine.

When you turn the key in the ignition, you’ll see right away. Some squealing can be heard. The screaming noise you hear as you turn the steering wheel is caused by the serpentine belt slipping off the pulley.

All of these flaws can be spotted early on if the driver pays attention to the car’s performance. In order to determine whether or not your serpentine belt is defective, the following common problems occur.

  • The car’s steering is experiencing difficulties in turning
  • There are squealing sounds
  • Pulley whining 
  • Battery not charging
  • The belt’s visible wear, tear, and cracks
  • The car engine is overheating
  • Inadequate air conditioning


You endanger the health of your car by driving without a serpentine belt in place. Engine overheating, poor air conditioning, alternator failure and steering power issues can all occur. The driver should always inspect the belt for broken, worn, cracked, and defective pulleys. Those items need to be replaced. Squealing noises and a lack of steering force could indicate a problem with the serpentine belt.