While most drivers think of their engines being powered by fuel and air, there are other components that play an important role in this process as well. Your vehicle’s belts that turn the crankshaft, power the fuel pump, AC compressor, or steering, are vital to keeping the engine and other critical systems running properly. When the belts fail, your vehicle may not operate or cause other components to malfunction. In this month’s blog, we look at the belts and problems that may arise with the belt tensioner, a key part of the belt system.
What type of belts does your vehicle have?
If you have ever looked under the hood while the motor was running, you most likely saw a hard rubber belt spinning inside the engine.
Your vehicle is equipped with belts to perform different functions:
· Drive Belt: The drive belt, also known as the timing belt, works with your vehicle’s crankshaft to synchronize the opening and closing of the engine’s valves and pistons. This hard-working belt is made of reinforced rubber with teeth, or grooves that enable it to stay intact while spinning.
· Serpentine Belt: The serpentine belt is also a reinforced rubber belt that winds around several engine components, hence the “serpentine” reference. This belt engages with different vehicle components or accessories to provide power to them, including the water pump, the compressor for the vehicle AC, and power steering
What is the function of the belt tensioner?
Your vehicle’s belt are subject to normal wear and tear and so they should be inspected periodically as part of your normal maintenance routine. One issue that can impact the performance of your belts is with a component called the belt tensioner.
The belt tensioner is what keeps the drive or serpentine belts tight enough to work properly as they spin throughout the engine. If a belt is too loose, it can directly impact its ability to provide power to components or accessories and may even break.
The belt tensioner is made up of the following parts:
· Base – holds it intact
· Tensioner Arm – allows for adjustment or removal of the belt
· Pulley and Spring – these parts work together to keep the belt at the desired tension.
How do you know if there’s a problem with the belt tensioner?
Belt tensioners can also be damaged or worn through wear.
When the belt tensioner is developing problems, you may notice certain signs, including:
· The belt is frayed or shows evidence of damage. This could be the result of a problem with the pulley.
· You hear unusual sounds from the engine. When the belt tensioner is not doing its job, you may hear a clicking, squeaking, or other unusual sounds, especially when the vehicle is initially started, or you are in low acceleration.
· The supported components are not being powered. If the belt tensioner is impacting the performance of the belt, this in turn will affect the parts being powered by the belt. You may experience frequent overheating with your engine, or a loss of cool air in the AC.
While the above signs may indicate a belt tensioner issue, they could also very easily be the result of other engine component failures. In most cases, if the tensioner is failing you may still be able to drive but it is not advisable. Continuing to drive may cause further damage to other components, or your belt may break altogether.
If you have concerns about your belts or the belt tensioner, make an appointment with our service professionals today at Nolan Motors Balbriggan. We will inspect the belts and make sure that any necessary repairs and/or replacements are completed.