Your car’s electricals rely depend on the power from the alternator to keep them working and the engine running.
So, when this belt snaps, you can only run the car for so long until the battery runs out.
While the belt can snap because of normal wear and tear, there are other factors you need to be aware of that can accelerate the wear and tear.
What causes the alternator belt to keep breaking?
Are there signs that you can look out for?
Can you prevent it from snapping?
Read on for insights into why your car’s alternator may keep snapping, what signs to look out for and whether you can drive without an alternator belt.
Quick answer: If the alternator belt is too tight or not aligned properly then your car’s alternator belt may keep snapping. It is even possible to replace the belt several times in a year.
Read on for additional reasons why your alternator belt may be snapping.
3 Causes of your Alternator Belt keeps Snapping
Is your car alternator belt snapping every few months or whatever frequency it breaks then there is reason for you to get concerned.
Car alternator belts can work reliably for several years if installed properly and the drive system – pulleys, and bearings are in good condition too.
So, if the alternator belt is snapping too frequently then you can check:
#1. Damaged bearings. If the bearings are not running smoothly possibly because of wear and tear or heat then the belt can may be stretched and stressed causing it to snap.
When the belt snaps, inspect the pulleys where the belt passes – A/C, water pump, power steering. Are they mounted firmly?
Any of them might have a damaged bearing, causing the belt to slip and suffer damage.
Spin the pulleys (power steering, water pump, AC – depending on your car design) by hand and confirm that they rotate smoothly and silently.
Is any of the pulleys wobbly? Do you hear any unusual noises?
#2. Misaligned belt. You should check that the alternator is still firmly mounted and properly aligned. In some cases, the mounting bolts can give way or may be missing causing the belt to slip and suffer damage from the pulley edges.
If the alternator is not installed properly or the pulleys are wobbly this can cause the belt to break prematurely.
#3. Is the belt installed too tight? Some cars have auto tensioners that apply the right tension to the belt saving you the time you’d otherwise spend making the necessary fine adjustments to get the tension right.
If your car doesn’t, then make you’ll need to make the adjustments or use the services of a qualified mechanic.
If it is not any of the above, look around the engine bay for what could have caused the belt snap.
There should be an underlying problem that needs to be addressed to stop the replacement belts from snapping repeatedly.
Find it before you fix another belt!
Signs that Car’s Alternator belt has Snapped
When your car’s alternator belt snaps, the battery light will come on as a sign that there is a problem with the car’s electrical system.
If your car has a battery status indicator, you’ll notice the charge level going down.
If the same belt is driving the power steering pump then you’ll lose power steering.
Sounds of a Snapped Alternator Belt (+what to do when it snaps)
You may hear a squeaky or squealing sound as the belt slips before it breaks. Other times, there might not be any sound at all.
If you hear any unusual sound from under the hood, slow down and park at the road side where it is safe for you. You need to determine the cause of the sound or related signs to determine whether you are able to drive to the nearest stop when you can get the car serviced.
If it is a belt snap, you can only drive for so long.
When to replace the Alternator Belt
#1. Inspect and replace the belt when it shows signs of cracks, cuts or wear and tear
When doing any routine maintenance on the car – particularly is you are doing any repairs on the cars electrical system, conduct a visual inspection on the alternator belt.
If you see any signs of cracks, cuts or wear, then replace the belt immediately.
#2. When replacing an alternator
When replacing an alternator or any its parts – bearing or pulley, it is generally recommended to replace the alternator belt too.
Your car’s alternator belt may snap from age or even prematurely if it is not improperly installed, or there is damage to bearings and pulleys where it passes.
Should it snap, aim to get to the underlying case or else it will snap again.
Replace your alternator belt when replacing the alternator.
Also, periodically inspect the blt to check for cracks, tears or any sign of wear.