Can You Drive Without A Serpentine Belt: is it safe?

Would you want your car’s engine to get seized and stop working? Of course, you won’t.

So, to keep your car running, a serpentine belt is a must. While talking about car engines, a question may arise, can you drive without a serpentine belt?

You can drive your car without a serpentine belt but not more than a few minutes. However, eventually, your engine will get overheated when you drive, and the battery will get discharged. As a result, your car will stop.

You won’t have to do any hard work to know about the importance of a serpentine belt and the consequences you can face without it. Instead, you’ll have to go through this article. So, let’s explore!

How do a Serpentine belt work?

I have prepared a visual illustration, that will help you to understand the functionality of a serpentine belt.

There are seven rings involve in the transmission, that’s why it is called as serpentine belt. The major parts of the belts are the Alternator, Crank shaft, AC compressor, and Tensioner.

Can you drive without a serpentine belt?

Whenever I think about my car’s engine, the first thing that comes to mind is a “serpentine belt.” You surely can assume the reason.

A serpentine belt is considered a crucial part of a car’s engine. It’s a type of air conditioning belt. It’s a flat rubber belt that controls many vital components such as the alternator, ac compressor, steering pump, and water pump. As it connects so many essential parts of the engine, you may think, “what will happen to your car without this belt? Can you drive or not?”

The answer is surprising. YES, but the outcomes will be horrifying for your car! Cars are manufactured so that they can move for some time, even without the serpentine belt. But you surely cannot take this kind of risk.

Without a serpentine belt, mainly an air conditioning belt, the power steering won’t work, increasing the possibility of accidents. Moreover, the alternator won’t charge the battery anymore. As a result, your car may stop working at any moment.

So, you shouldn’t drive without a serpentine belt as it can harm your engine to a great extent.

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Will a broken serpentine belt automatically seize the alternator?

No, a broken serpentine belt won’t seize the alternator automatically.

We know that a serpentine belt drives the alternator. So, when this belt breaks, the alternator will only stop working. It won’t get seized. Therefore, the broken serpentine belt won’t harm the alternator unless the alternator itself is damaged.

Is a timing belt the same thing as a serpentine belt?

Many of us wonder that a timing belt and a serpentine belt are the same. But this thinking is wrong. In fact, these two belts are different from each other in every aspect.

You can differentiate between these two by the information that is given below:

  • Location: If you look at the engine carefully by opening the hood, you can notice the serpentine belt. But in the case of a timing belt, you won’t be able to find it.
  • Teeth: Teeth are present in the timing belt but not in the serpentine belt. It helps the timing belt to grip the parts of the crankshaft.
  • Repairing cost: In the case of a serpentine belt, the repairing cost is cheap as it doesn’t damage the engine as much as a timing belt does. However, the repairing cost of a timing belt is expensive.
  • Function: A serpentine belt powers and controls many essential parts of the engine, whereas a timing belt joins the crankshaft to the camshaft.

Now, you can clearly differentiate between these two belts and won’t have any misconceptions.

Can a broken serpentine belt cause a check engine light?

A broken serpentine belt can’t cause a check engine light. However, the check engine light may turn on after replacing a serpentine belt for some reason.

Does Firestone Complete Auto Care install belts that meet my vehicle’s specifications?

You will be relieved after knowing the answer as the answer is YES.

Firestone install belts of Dayco as well as Bando. The professionals well recognize the brands. The Dayco and the Bando belts that they provide are made with high-quality compounds to make them durable and give wear protection. They can also install a serpentine belt of any brand you want.

So, rest assured if you are installing the belt from Firestone.

How does the serpentine belt affect the transmission?

Many of us don’t really bother about the transmission accessories of the engine. But it’s high time we do. For example, the serpentine belt is one of the engine’s transmission accessories that transmits power to all the components in the engine which are under its control.

So if something happens to the serpentine belt, problems like overheating the engine, loosing power steering, etc., will occur.

In a nutshell, the serpentine belt affects the transmission in every way possible.

What happens to a car engine when the serpentine belt breaks at high speed?

Ever thought about what would happen if the serpentine belt breaks at high speed? Sounds horrifying, right?

Here’s a simple logic. If the serpentine belt breaks at high speed, then we can assume what will happen next. It’s evident that the components which are connected and driven by the serpentine belt will stop working.

So, if you break the belt at high speed, you won’t even realize that something happened for a few minutes. But after some time, the engine will get overheated as the water pump will stop working. Moreover, the AC compressor and the power steering won’t work. Finally, your battery will start to discharge as the alternator will also not work.

In this situation, you should get your car to the garage instead of running the vehicle as the engine may be badly damaged.

What happens if you attempt to drive with a broken serpentine belt?

If you attempt to drive while your serpentine belt is broken, you will regret the decision.

Driving without a serpentine belt is like standing in front of a running car. When the serpentine belt is broken, the power steering does not work. As a result, you cannot turn the wheels in any direction. You can surely assume what will happen then. Moreover, the engine will overheat, and the battery will discharge.

So, you shouldn’t attempt anything as such.

Is it bad to start your car if your serpentine belt is broken?

It’s not anything as such that your car won’t start without the serpentine belt. You can start the car without this belt. In that case, the battery transmits power to the starter motor. As a result, your car gets started. But it won’t be running longer than a few minutes.

The serpentine belt is essential if you want your car to keep moving.

How long can I drive down the road without a serpentine belt?

Without a serpentine belt, you may drive a few minutes, but it depends on the engine and the battery life.

When there’s no serpentine belt, the engine gets overheated, and the battery gets discharged. These things depend on the type of engine you have.

In OHV(Over Head Valve) engines, the water pump is controlled by the serpentine belt. As a result, the engine gets overheated quickly, and you won’t be able to drive for long. But surprisingly, if you have an OHC (Over Head Can) engine, you can drive for long as the serpentine belt does not control the water pump. Here you have a radiator to serve the purpose.

So you can drive without the belt until the engine gets overheated and the battery discharges fully. But in my opinion, to keep your car fit, you shouldn’t drive without the serpentine belt.

in Conclusion: Can You Drive Without A Serpentine Belt?

Through this article, I tried to brief you about the losses you will face if you drive without a serpentine belt. However, as you have gained much information so now, you shouldn’t attempt anything as such to keep your car’s engine fit.

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Mahir Ahmed


I'm the guy responsible for ensuring honest, informative, accurate and helpful guide to the reader.

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