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If there was ever a piece of a car and truck that was the perfect example of “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” … it is the Serpentine Belt. Without it, vital components cannot function, and you are “up the creek, no paddle” for sure!
First, be aware that your Serpentine Belt drives your ABDS (Auxiliary Belt Drive System). This is your power steering pump, alternator, air pump, air conditioning compressor, and water pump. So, if you are out on the road and it slips or snaps, it’s “Hello Mr. Tow Truck!”
The first thing most people notice when something isn’t right is a squealing and “chirping” coming from the belt system. This is a sign of a belt that is worn, misaligned, or both. Even if you can stand the noise, it is important to note that this slipping and sliding reduces engine efficiency, and can even damage expensive components.
Your pals will tell you to spray “belt conditioner” on the belt. Yes, it will stop squealing for a day or two. But, this “kick the can down the road” trick is a short term “cure” to a very real problem that may land you on the business end of a tow truck with a hefty bill to pay.
Another sign of belt slipping and misalignment is the power steering and air conditioning systems start to get sluggish and nonresponsive.
And, yet another frequent indicator of serpentine belt problems, is that your engine begins to overheat. In today’s engines, this is an immediate and serious condition that needs to be addressed.
Lastly: is the Check engine light glowing? Yep! Well, it could be that the serpentine belt is slipping and ready to have a complete failure.
We wish more people would get in the habit of checking their oil, coolant levels, and yes – the condition of the serpentine belt. If you see cracks, abrasions, chunks missing, uneven wear, or damaged ribs … think about replacing the belt, and possibly some pulleys on the system.
Remember, an old belt in poor condition is a disaster waiting to happen!
Modern engines are made to be lightweight, compact, highly efficient, and provide good horsepower while conserving fuel.
And, one of the often overlooked advances in engine performance was the development and adoption of the Serpentine Belt. It replaced the V Belt system, where each component got its own dedicated belt. Instead, a long and continuous serpentine belt turns all the components of the ABDS (Auxiliary Belt Drive System)
This system is not only more compact and easy to maintain, but it also provides more predictable and higher efficiencies while in operation. Since these belts generally employ an idler pulley and/or a belt tensioner (which may be spring-loaded, hydraulic, or manual)- the belt is always in perfect tension and aligned with the pulley system.
Think about the hostile environment represented by the engine compartment. From freezing cold at start up, to burning hot sitting in traffic, and in some parts of the world – all in the same day!
This creates the need for tough, flexible materials and engineered solutions that can deliver maximum results for long periods of time.
That’s why we’ll take a look at seven of the best and see which is the best Serpentine Belt for your maintenance and repair needs.
The cost of a serpentine belt is a relatively small part of the maintenance and repair of your engine. As front wheel drive took over the auto world, so did transverse (“sideways mounted”) engines.
This often means accessing the serpentine belt system is much more difficult, often requires special tools, with trained mechanics making the replacement and final adjustments. Meaning, that there is a good chance even the DIY crowd uses mechanics and pays that labor cost.
Since the majority of the cost in this process will be labor, and if needed, replacement of idler pulley and/or belt tensioner components, we will not focus on the price of these belts. Let’s focus on ensuring you understand how to get the best serpentine belt for your car or truck.
A Serpentine Belt MUST be the correct length and width for your exact car model and engine type and although it is rare to find a car or truck today without air conditioning, be aware that belt lengths are very different for vehicles with, or without, air conditioning compressors!
These days, belt lengths can be expressed in either millimeters or inches, so be aware of that difference when you are shopping for new belts. Also, be sure your replacement belt has the correct number of ribs!
You are probably wondering, “Are our seven best serpentine belt suppliers as good as the expensive “OEM” belts?
In a word -YES. These companies manufacture and sell belts to “OEM” Brands to sell under their own name.
Serpentine Belts show wear at about 50,000 miles, and at 75,000 miles, you are really at the upper end of useful life.
- What Are The 7 Best Serpentine Belt Brands?
- So, What’s The Best Serpentine Belt?
What Are The 7 Best Serpentine Belt Brands?
Let’s start with “the Godfather” of belts … Gates Corporation, who introduced the world’s first rubber V belt in 1917, the first toothed timing belt in 1945, and in 1979 introduced the first serpentine belt!
Gates Serpentine Belts, often listed as “Micro V Belts,” define OEM quality. Constructed of EPDM rubber (ethylene propylene diene monomer) with durability enhanced by the addition of Aramid Fiber (found in bullet-proof vests).
Gates has earned its place in the world as a master of “all things involving belts.”
The gates Micro-V belts offer peak operating performance and deliver high-quality solutions.
1 Gates K060841 Serpentine Belt/Fan Belt
2 Gates K081223HD Multi V-Groove Belt
3 Gates K081264HD Serpentine Belt/Fan Belt
Another brand name most folks recognize, and for good reason. ACDelco is installed on more than 2 million GM vehicles each year as “OEM” equipment.
ACDelco Serpentine belts are made with EPDM rubber (ethylene propylene diene monomer ). A synthetic rubber known for its wear and tear durability, and excellent ability to function in high heat applications.
The company claims that their belts last up to 60% longer than lower priced replacement belts and can perform better than the competition when there is some misalignment in the accessory belt drive systems (ABDS.)
4 ACDelco 6K930 Professional V-Ribbed Serpentine Belt
Bando is well known for supplying many serpentine OEM parts for the auto industry since 1988 and features their “Rib Ace® Serpentine” product line.
The company has an entire product line in the world of conveyor belts and transferred a lot of non-stretch cord technology to their automotive products, and in some cases, even claims to be able to operate without tension idlers.
5 Bando USA 6PK2135 Belts
Continental feels its “secret sauce” is Quiet Channel Technology that reduces noise and increases belt tension qualities.
And diesel truck users should take a look at their Extreme Poly-V® Belt which is very robust, has a long life, manages extreme temperature build-up (hot and cold) and contains advanced abrasion-resistant compounds.
They are designed to work with modern diesel class 6 to 8 HD truck applications. Continental claims “the Extreme Poly-V® Belt lasts for 1,000 continuous hours of extreme conditions before failing and has a 100,000-mile guarantee.”
6 Continental OE Technology Series 4060882 6-Rib, 88.2″ Multi-V Belt
7 Continental 4060855 OE Technology Series Multi-V Belt
So, What’s The Best Serpentine Belt?
What we have learned is that your serpentine belt is a vital part of engine performance and safety. It is a critical component that makes all your engine components work efficiently, effectively, and over long periods of time.
We hope the takeaway from this list is that all the brands are good, but we promised to talk about our best choice. That being said, the best serpentine belt here is the…
Since the cost of a belt is a very small portion of the total repair, we won’t focus on price. What we focus on is “bang for the buck”.
If you are going to spend the time and money on getting a mechanic to change your belt (or a day in the driveway wrenching on your engine), why not use the one that lasts 50-60% longer than any conventional retail belts?
Since ACDelco is superior when operating with misalignment issues, it means that once it is installed, the chances of squealing, slipping, breaking and needing more attention is minimized.
ACDelco uses premium (ethylene propylene diene monomer ) EPDM rubber so it is very dependable and offers optimum engine performance. As we noted, EPDM is high temperature and crack resistant.
This material means that the serpentine belt can withstand billions of topside and backside bends – really durable!
ACDelco has done a lot of R and D in terms of precision dimension control of rib profiles. The more accurately the belt matches the pulley configuration, the more effective it is in transmitting load throughout the ABDS (accessory belt drive system).
Their engineered systems work therefore perfectly with the pulleys your engine came with.
In summary, the belt is probably the smallest cost in the repair as a whole, so get the belt that lines up easily, delivers top performance, and outlasts all the rest on the market.