Possibly one of the most underrated and unconsidered parts to check in your engine, the serpentine belt.
For those unaware or unsure of the serpentine belts function; it drives multiple peripheral devices in an engine. If your belt were to break, you’d lose power to your alternator, power steering pump, water pump, and air conditioner.
It’s important to check your belt at regular intervals. Perhaps every X amount of miles or even better, replace it on a regular basis. Serpentine belts are very affordable, especially considering the cost of potential damage due to a snapped or worn belt. After 3 years, failure rates drastically increase.
The best serpentine belts should be durable, practical, and the right length for your engine. We’ve compiled a list of some of the best serpentine belts available on the market.
We’ve also produced a guide below on things you’ll want to consider when buying your serpentine belt.
The 5 Best Serpentine Belts in 2018
|Continental Elite 4060740|
1. Continental Elite 4060740 – Best For EfficiencyThis serpentine belt is made from Gatorback Poly-V belt material that helps to ensure reduce sound levels during operation. Couple this quality with Continentals Quiet Channel technology and the result is almost non-existent sound, you can’t get quieter.
This design also increases the flexibility of the belt due to the channel system, allowing it to run cooler. This reduced heat level lowers the rate at which the belt gets worn down resulting in a longer life.
This belt is also less prone to stretching allowing for more power to be directed to peripheral engine components.
2. Gates K081189HD – Best For Cost Per MileGates Fleetrunner Micro-V belts are designed to withstand the toughest of uses. Its patented material construction allows for incredible performance at greater operating temperatures. The EPDM rubber blend resists deterioration and cracking especially when exposed to water-based coolants or solutions.
This belt offers all of this alongside an incredibly low cost per mile due to its durable and reliable design. It also offers 8 ribs reducing the risk of slippage during operation, most belts only use 6 ribs.
3. Dayco 5060840 – Best For Noise LevelThis serpentine belt uses a ‘W’ profile rib specially engineered to allow for slight misalignments in positioning. This design plus the aramid noise resistant fibres in the rubber helps to ensure quieter running.
The Dayco 5060840 is designed with intense durability in mind, it can operate at temperatures ranging between -45F – 265F. Dayco builds to exceed industry standards and is so confident in their products they come with a 3-year warranty.
This belts 84″ effective length allows compatibility with over 340 different vehicle makes and models.
4. ACDelco 6K930 – Most Durable Serpentine BeltThis serpentine belt is constructed, with durability in mind, using EPDM rubber, this provides a long and dependable performance. Often used by professional mechanics, it’s a good quality product and said to last 50-60% longer than retail belts.
The ACDelco 6K930 is also extremely compatible and fits a huge variety of makes and models. Due to durable design, this belt also accepts misalignment better than most other belts. This help to ensure the safer running of the vehicle as an ill-fitting belt can cause engine damage.
Its flexible construction also allows the withstanding of billions of top and backside bends resulting in longer belt life.
5. Bando 6PK2240 – Best For the PriceThe Bando 6PK2240 serpentine band offers 6 ribs at 88.2″ effective length making it compatible with many different engines. The strong tensile cords help to support high amounts of stress without cracking or wearing down.
Bando are award-winning OEM suppliers and deliver high-quality products at very affordable prices for over 100 years. This belt uses a high-strength synthetic rubber, containing zero hazardous materials, for greater durability. Bando is the 3rd largest manufacturer of serpentine belts in the world. Therefore, you can rest assured that your product will be of the highest quality.
Things To Consider When Buying Your Serpentine Belt
Serpentine belts are in constant and heavy use when running your vehicle and drive numerous instruments in the engine.
It’s important to have them checked on a regular basis as if they are worn down too much you could see the damage caused to these peripheral systems.
It’s important to check the size of the belt you’re buying. If you’re unsure of what size you need, check the make and model number of your previous belt. Don’t go by the size of your old belt as it will be worn down and stretched from use.
You should also be able to find the measurement in your car’s manual. Alternatively, a quick search online when entering your vehicles make and model number should also help.
The material of the serpentine belt will determine durability and resistance to heat, stretching, and cracks. EPDM rubber belts are becoming far more common as small cracks cause significantly fewer issues than in Neoprene belts. A belt more resistant to stretching will also provide more power due to greater efficiency in the number of rotations.
Avoid Neoprene belts altogether. They are quickly becoming out-dated due to the technological advancements being made in the motor industry. The main issue with Neoprene arises when it gets worn down.
Neoprene takes on similar characteristics as the outside of a wetsuit, becoming too smooth and not gripping effectively. This can cause slippage and internal component damage.
As well as getting the right sized belt, you also want to make sure it’s compatible with other items. These could include components such as the tensioner, pulley, and other accessories.
Most product sites will link to the manufacturer’s site displaying a full list of compatible makes and models. If you’re in doubt, you can contact your car manufacturer and they’ll be able to inform you. Just make sure you have all of the relevant information to hand for a more efficient call.
Those with aftermarket parts, if you’re unsure of what you’re looking for it’ll be best to visit a mechanic. They can inform you what belt you need as it most likely won’t be the standard belt.
Change Other Parts
If the serpentine belt is due a change it might be worth considering having a look at other parts too. The most common items to replace at the same time would be the gaskets and gasket adhesives.
Changing numerous parts at once will give you a better idea of when everything will next need replacing. It will also put your mind at ease knowing you shouldn’t have any engine trouble any time soon.
Whilst most products don’t display a specific range value it’s common to expect a belt to last 60,000+ miles. High-end belts can see the likes over 100,000+. If you contact the manufacturer directly they’ll be able to give you some guidance on the range.
One of the benefits of mechanics is that they replace these belts often. This helps them know how far you’re likely to get with different types of belt. Otherwise, just look for belts made of high-quality EPDM rubber.
It’s best to check your belt at every oil change, simply look for excessive wear or cracks per inch. This will give you a good idea of how well your belt is coping. If the ribs have also been worn down rather low you may want to consider replacing the belt.
For those that want to play it safer either have it checked at a garage or replace the belt. Regardless of condition, do this every 50,000 miles.
The pattern of the ribs can have a tremendous impact on the durability of the belt. It’s best to find a belt with numerous valleys and cross-cuts allowing more air to get under the belt. This will help keep the belt cool and less likely to stretch or overheat.
Belts with hexagonally crossing rib patterns also allow for greater flexibility, in turn, also reducing the likelihood of stretching.
Online Vs Garage
Buying online will require you to install it yourself or take it to a garage and pay for installation. If you’re not installing it yourself, it’s likely to be similar pricing.
The benefit of visiting a garage is that they know what will fit your car. Garages most likely already the item in stock, and can do it in a very short period of time. However, labour costs can be relatively high. If you’re unsure or not confident installing it yourself, this is definitely the best option for safety reasons.
Those buying online, make sure to check compatibility across numerous websites ensuring it’ll fit with your vehicle model.
The notable downside to a serpentine belt is that if it does fail, every attachment also fails. In a system of numerous belts, this wouldn’t be an issue. In order to prevent this, and because of the low cost, it’s a good idea to keep a spare.
This can be extremely helpful if you’re comfortable replacing it yourself. This will prevent you from being stranded and waiting for an expensive repair service to aid you.
It Might Not Be The Belt
There are many issues that can cause an engine to make a shrieking noise. As soon as you hear something concerning, pullover and take a look at the engine. If it isn’t obvious either cautiously make your way to a garage or call roadside assistance.
To prevent belt slippage or breaks, have it replaced by professionals on a regular basis. If you replace the belt yourself, this is when a belt with forgiving alignment measures comes in handy.
Shear strength is the strength of the material against the type of structural failure where it fails in shear. This directly relates to the belts ability to prevent itself from shearing apart causing a breakdown.
Always look for a belt with high levels of shear resistance. This can be depicted by the material and design of the belt.
SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) standards are put in place to ensure products are safe for distribution. It’s important to check to make sure your serpentine belt meets these standards.
Most high-end belts will not only mention that they’ve achieved these standards but have actually exceeded them. This will assure you that the product is of quality design and therefore significantly less likely to fail.
Serpentine belts are relatively inexpensive when comparing to other car parts. This allows for a more regular replacement of the part and ensuring a safer working engine.
With minimal price differences, it’s important to focus on the different belt features. When checking its status and it looks even marginally worn down, it’s probably a good idea to replace it.
Our Final Review
Car safety is extremely important and if you’re in anyway unsure, consult a professional. This can be done during your general service or MOT.
The serpentine belt drives numerous vehicle functions and can be checked on a regular basis, ideally every oil change.
Getting an ill-fitting or incorrect belt can cause damage to the engine and peripherals so be 100% when installing. Purchasing EPDM belts usually provide greater heat and stretch resistance meaning they’ll last longer.
Serpentine belts do offer greater durability over a series of belts, as they can be made thicker and stronger. These belts are also more compact and easier to maintain.