Best Serpentine Belts: Top Picks For Keeping Your Engine Active
Secure your engine’s functionality for a long time with our top picks for the best serpentine belts
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The serpentine belt is located in the engine and is responsible for carrying power to critical components of your vehicle, including the air pump, power steering pump, alternator, and other important parts. The serpentine belt ensures that there’s harmony between all components under the bonnet, and if it breaks down, it could lead to total engine failure. Lucky enough, there are aftermarket serpentine belt replacements that can get your engine back to operating at its optimal level. Here’s a look at some of the best serpentine belt replacements.
- Best OverallACDelco 6K930SummarySummaryA V-ribbed serpentine belt made of resistant EPDM rubber. This unit is resistant to rough conditions and cracks that result from misalignment or malfunction of a vehicle.ProsProsAn OEM-quality product. Heat and crack resistant. Flexible construction. Adapts quickly to misalignment in the ABDS. Durable. Compatible with most car engines.ConsConsLimited compatibility with some trucks. Difficult to install.
- Best ValueBando 6PK1305SummarySummaryAn affordable OEM-quality serpentine belt made of synthetic rubber with high power resistance and longevity.ProsProsMeets all OEM specifications. Strong tensile cords for greater horsepower. Durable. Heat-resistant.ConsConsNot compatible with all automobiles. Feels a little light. The belt doesn’t have teeth to prevent slipping.
- Honorable MentionGates K081264HDSummarySummaryA serpentine belt, featuring high-standard belt technology that lets the user make slight adjustments to its structure for better performance.ProsProsHeavy-duty construction. Easy to install. Suitable for most car engines. Minimizes engine noise and vibrations. Resistant to cracks. Long lifespan.ConsConsPricier than other options. Gets squeaky when operating in low-temperature areas..
Why Buy A Serpentine Belt?
- Upgrade the engine components as a unit. If you are thinking of replacing your head gasket, gasket adhesives, or spark plug, then that might give you a hint that the other components surrounding the engine may also be due for replacement. You might as well replace the entire set at the same time so that you have all the components in the front part of your car functioning effectively.
- Prevent engine failure. A serpentine belt will give off signs that it’s wearing out like fraying, cracking, or tearing before failing. If that happens, all accessories supported by the belt will become useless, your engine may start to overheat, and your car could stop mid-journey. Replace the belt before you start to experience serious problems with your engine.
- Better design. Compared to standard smaller belts and fan belts, serpentine belts are made to be stronger, more compact, easier to install, and more efficient. Serpentine belts are also cheaper and longer-lasting than the alternatives.
- Transmit power to essential automotive components. Critical components like the air conditioning unit, power steering pump, alternator, and the water pump rely on the serpentine belt for power in order to run smoothly.
From its inception in 1916, ACDelco has been known to make some of the best aftermarket replacement parts for the automotive industry. Also, all ACDelco products meet and exceed user-safety standards. ACDelco is a subsidiary company of General Motors, and it’s headquartered in Grand Blanc, Michigan. One of ACDelco’s best quality serpentine belts is the ACDelco 6K930.
Dayco specializes in the design, manufacturing, and distribution of engine components and drives systems for the automotive, construction, and agriculture industries. Dayco engine belts are often available in kits full of other accessories, and it also manufactures pulley systems to accompany the belts. One of Dayco’s quietest serpentine belts is the Dayco 5060840 Serpentine Belt.
Continental is one of the best serpentine belts manufacturers in the industry. It’s a German automotive manufacturing company that also makes interior electronics, brake systems, and tires among other products. The company has more than 140 years in the industry, and throughout the years, its products have managed to attain high-efficiency standards. A good example of such a high-efficiency Continental product is the Continental OE Technology Series 4060740.
With over 100 years of experience, Bando maintains its excellence in manufacturing and distributing OEM products in the United States. Bando products are used as OEM replacements in 80 percent of the top cars in the industry and are also capable of providing improvements to professional racing cars. One of its affordable car belts is the Bando 6PK1305.
Best Serpentine Belt Pricing
- Under $20: Serpentine belts within this price range can last for at most 70,000 miles before they need a replacement. You may find some great OEM replacements here, but most don’t hold the desirable level of resistance to heat, chipping, and cracking. However, you will find some great products from renowned brands that run smoothly with no irritating sounds.
- $20 to $30: Expect to find engine belts with a lifespan ranging from 50,000 to 80,000 miles within this price range. Most products here are made from high-strength resistant materials and carry high horsepower loads. You also won’t have to worry about malfunctioning devices, loud noises, or loss of tenacity with most of the products here.
- Above $30: The belts get more reliable the higher you go in this price range. Most products here are made from a high-quality rubber material that makes the belts resistant to heat, and they maintain their tenacity and quality even after a life of 100,000 miles. They are also more resistant to deterioration caused by grease, oil, and other factors.
The model number on your factory serpentine belt will help you get the best aftermarket size. If the previous belt is too worn out to show any model number, take it out and measure the length. Then select an aftermarket piece that’s one size smaller to get the best fit. Alternatively, your car owner’s manual (if you still have it) will give you the correct size for the serpentine belt.
Neoprene used to be the standard material for constructing serpentine belts, but the belts often ended up being shiny and developed cracks with time. Most manufacturers have currently changed to Ethylene-Propylene-Diene-Monomer(EPDM), which is more resistant to wear and heat and is longer-lasting than Neoprene.
The construction of the serpentine belt should be strong enough to withstand heat and rough conditions that often lead to wear. The average lifespan for the belt is 60,000 miles, but you can find some units from high-end brands that push to 100,000 miles.
- Rib Pattern: The rib pattern contributes to the lifespan of the belt. The best belts have cross cuts and numerous valleys to allow more air to get underneath the belt, preventing overheating and stretching.
- Shear Resistance: This is the ability of the belt to protect itself or to resist structural failures such as shears or cracks. Most high-end belts are advertised to be crack-resistant and that’s largely due to the design and material of the belt.
Best Serpentine Belt Reviews & Recommendations 2019
Best Serpentine Belt Overall: ACDelco 6K930
The ACDelco 6K930 is one of the most durable serpentine belts on the market. This is thanks to its tough construction, featuring EPDM rubber, which is dependable, crack-resistant, and lasts 60 percent longer than most retail belts. The belt also has a flexible construction that can withstand uncountable top and backside bends without losing its tenacity. The model won’t wear out when running on a high-temperature engine.
The belt fits a wide variety of vehicle makes and models, and it accepts misalignment way better than most belts, meaning that the belt guarantees the safe running of your vehicle, even when it stretches out or doesn’t fit perfectly on the pulley system. The belt’s ribs transmit power loads efficiently throughout the belt drive systems and ensure that the vehicle’s components are performing at their optimal capacity.
However, the belt has a narrow top-width that may make the installation process a bit difficult. It’s also not compatible with some trucks. Compatibility is always an issue with serpentine belts, but that may not be such a huge problem for brand engines like Toyota, Nissan, Honda, GM, and VW.
Best Value Serpentine Belt: Bando 6PK1305
The Bando 6PK1305 is an OEM-quality belt with ground rubber ribs ideal for increasing its lifespan. The belt has six ribs, each measuring 84.1 inches, to make an OEM-specific rib profile. It features high-quality ground rubber ribs that are made from strong synthetic rubber, and it’s both heat- and crack-resistant. The belt has strong tensile cords that can withstand high-horsepower loads without losing its tenacity.
You will appreciate the fact that you can install the belt easily, even without using the installation service package offered by Bando. Replacing the belt is also easy, but its smooth performance will give you the sense of your original belt. This Bando model offers a noise-free ride and is a reliable and affordable product.
The downside of this Bando model is that the belt doesn’t have teeth. To add on to that, it also feels light, and that might be one of the first problems you’ll experience with the belt when the engine’s pulley system slips. It’s also not compatible with all automobiles, especially older vehicles that don’t have an AC system.
Best Serpentine Belt Honorable Mention: Gates K081264HD
The Gates serpentine belt is a heavy-duty belt with praiseworthy quality and resistance. It’s resistant to heat and cracks, and it’s thicker than most OEM belts. The belt is made of high-profile materials that meet OEM standards. It also has a large load capacity and can perform the roughest applications with utmost precision and efficiency. The belt takes a V-groove design and operates quietly.
The belt is 1.08 inches wide and 20 inches long. It’s also easy to install for anyone who’s handy with tools; all you need is a one-kit torque wrench to mount it on the pulley system. Gates also provides an instruction guide to help you when installing the belt. Its heavy-duty construction is suitable for SUVs, trucks, and other tough-application vehicles.
The downside of this product is that the heavy-duty construction comes with a higher price tag than other standard belts. It offers a noise-free ride in standard conditions but may start to get squeaky or vibrate once some snow gets on it. You may also need help installing it due to the thick size if you are concerned about getting the right tension from the automatic belt tensioner.
- Sometimes, the serpentine belt might fail without giving off any visible warnings. It may also fail when misaligned or installed incorrectly. Have a professional install the belt for you and check on its condition occasionally to make sure that it’s working as intended.
- Replace the belt after 5 percent of the rib material is worn out. The ‘ribs’ or ‘valleys’ on the belt can be measured with a small tool called a Vernier caliper (Ask a professional to help you use it). If that seems difficult, you can replace the belt every four to six years, depending on its condition.
- You will start to notice a defective belt from its edges, as that’s where it starts to wear out and crack. You may also notice some squealing noises coming from the front part of your vehicle. In case that happens and you aren’t ready to buy a new belt, you can lubricate the belt with high-quality engine oil to buy some time before replacement.
- Have a professional check the condition of the automatic belt-tensioner every time you replace the serpentine belt. It’s a self-tensioning device that maintains the balance of tension and flexibility in the fast-spinning rubber, and without it, the belt may slip or run hot and snap.
Q: How long do serpentine belts last?
A: Most serpentine belts last between 50,000 and 100,000 miles, depending on the quality of the brand and your driving habits. The more you are on the road, the more the belt gets exposed to wear from friction, and that shortens its lifespan. However, with the advancements in rubber technology, some belts can be manually serviced by increasing the tension on the pulley. That increases the belt’s lifespan as long as it doesn’t snap.
Q: How will I know that my car belt needs to be replaced?
A: The belt will give off some tell-tale signs that it’s starting to wear out. You may notice some quelling or chirping noises every time you run the engine. That could be an indication that the belt is slipping from its pulley due to stretching out. Other signs may include cracks, missing chunks, power steering or air conditioning failure, and finally, your car may break down while you’re driving.
Q: Can I use two belts in my vehicle?
A: That won’t be necessary. It might seem like the best solution to have two belts running select accessories, but that was only a trend with older vehicles. With the new and improved serpentine belt, a single belt can handle running all the engine components and delivering power to individual parts.
Q: Can I drive with a bad serpentine belt?
A: It depends on the extent of the damage. If the belt breaks, then your car will break down. Your power steering and air conditioning will also fail. That could be risky if it happens when you are on the road. However, you can lubricate the belt if it hasn’t snapped and replace it within three days.
We went for the ACDelco 6K930 as our top pick due to its durability and ability to accept misalignment, a rare feature with most engine belts.
Our best value product is the Bando 6PK1305 because it’s affordable and one of the best serpentine belts on the market today.
Is your engine belt due for replacement? Would you use any of the serpentine belts in our review? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
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