How to Use a Serpentine Tool Belt Like A Pro? Fast and Easy Guide

How to Use a Serpentine Tool Belt

The serpentine belt is one of the most important components in your vehicle. It should always be in top condition because a lot of accessories depend on it. If it does not work, those accessories will be down.

So, this article will outline all the accessories that run on the serpentine belt so that you’ll appreciate its importance. It will also talk about why you need the serpentine belt tool to work on the serpentine belt. There are two basic things you can do to the serpentine belt. You can either tighten it or replace it completely. So, keep reading to learn about the serpentine belt and its special tool.

What is a Serpentine belt?

The serpentine belt is the belt in your engine that runs multiple pulleys. When you open your engine, you can easily see it but you may not be able to access it. It ensures your alternator runs fine. If anything is wrong with your alternator, it won’t charge your battery.

And if your battery isn’t fully charged, it won’t power your headlights, radio, and other appliances that are powered by your car battery. Here are the components that run on the serpentine belt.

The list of accessories powered by the serpentine belt

  • The car air conditioner
  • The idler
  • Fan
  • Alternator
  • Water pump
  • Crank
  • Power Steering pump

When your belt is loose, all the accessories won’t work properly or they may not work at all. So, you’ll need to tighten the tensioner. There are two sides to a coin. When the belt is too tight, it is also a problem too. So, you need the right balance for the accessories to be in top condition. 

What is a serpentine belt tool kit?

Now you already know how important your car’s serpentine belt is. It has only one problem. The belt is not easily accessible. Think about it. A single belt controlling about 6 to 7 pulleys can’t be easily accessible. So, it requires a special set of tools to tighten or replace the belt. The set of tools is known as the serpentine tool kit. 

What makes up the serpentine belt tool kit?

There are different sets of serpentine tool kit because there are different manufacturers. However, a typical serpentine belt tool kit should have the following tools. 

  • 24-inch handle with 3/8 inch square drive
  • 9 ¼ -inch adapter or extension with ½-inch square drive
  • 13, 14, 15, 16, and 19 mm sockets
  • 13, 14, 15 mm wrenches

Some kits come with more tools. While some come in a case, others don’t. With the tools above, you can either tighten or replace your car’s serpentine belt easily.   

How to use the serpentine belt tool kit?

The location of the serpentine belt is different in different car models. In some cases, standard tools can reach it easily but in most, you’ll need the serpentine tool kit.  Every tool kit comes with its user manual so you need to follow it. 

The basic step in using the tool is to connect the handle to a suitable ratchet and fix the right socket. The socket will tighten or loosen the wing-nut of the tensioner but the tool and ratchet will help you to reach it. If your chosen socket can’t fit the wing-nut snugly, change it. The kit comes with about 3 to 5 different sockets in different sizes. 

Signs your serpentine belt has a problem:

Although it is advisable to check your serpentine belt regularly, there are signs to watch out for. If you encounter any of the signs below, there may be a problem with your belt.

  1. If the belt makes a squealing sound, it may be slipping.
  2. A chirping sound could be a sign of poor alignment of a pulley.
  3. Another sign of poor alignment is when the belt has a frayed edge.
  4. Belt slip gives polished edge so when you spot a polished edge, you should know the cost.
  5. When you see a sign of oil on the belt, it is either your power steering oil or your radiator coolant is leaking.
  6. When your belt begins to crack, it has reached its lifespan or the tensioner is faulty.
  7. When the bearing in any of the pulleys is defective or broken, you’ll witness a certain whirring or grinding sound.
  8. When you hear any other funny sound, a foreign object may have found its way into the belt grove. 
  9. When your belt comes off there could be several reasons for it. Find out and fix it.

How to remove a serpentine belt?

To remove the belt, you need a pair of safety glasses, a manual, a pair of protective gloves, ratchet and the serpentine belt tool. Open the hood of your car and inspect your belt. Check the way it has been routed.  Look for the routing diagram of the belt.

This will help you decide how to remove and fix another one. It is usually somewhere in the engine. If you can’t find one, take a critical look at it and sketch out what you see. It doesn’t have to be a full drawing, just a sketch is okay.

Look at the sketch and determine how you’ll easily remove the belt and fit another one. Loosen the lock bolt on the adjustment bracket in front of the alternator. You need the serpentine belt tool with the right socket to do that.

The idea is to push the tensioner out of the way. Some tensioners have a bolt head while others have a slot for the insertion of a square ratchet head. Hold the tensioner out of the way with one hand and slide off the belt from the pulleys with the other hand.

How to install another serpentine belt?

Take a proper look at the routing diagram again. Remember, installing the belt is more difficult than removing it. Determine how you will install the belt. Pull the tensioner further away with the same tool to give more space for proper installation.

Install the belt and run it around all the pulleys as in the routing diagram. Check the diagram again to be sure you installed it properly. Release the tensioner and tighten it.  While the hood is still open, start the engine and take a lot at it to be sure that it is neither too tight nor too loose. 

Final Verdict

Now that you know how to use a serpentine belt tool, it is advisable to take note of the wing-nut of your car’s serpentine tensioner before you purchase the tool. This will guide you in the purchase of the kit. Most importantly, read the review of any serpentine tool before placing an order for it.