Spare a Belt?

Posted: April 1, 2013  |  Tag: Engines

By: Grid Michal

My wife and I intend to do some long-range cruising this year. I’ve enjoyed your articles about tools to take but noticed that basic parts weren’t addressed. One thing I noticed on my twin 5.7s is that they don’t have “fan belts,” as I used to call them. Now there’s only one belt. It used to be that if the alternator belt broke, at least the coolant would continue to circulate. If what I see is so, when that one belt snaps, everything quits, right? How bad is that?
Good observation, but it’s not as bad as you might think. Invariably, when you had two belts, or three, the inner one always broke first, requiring you to loosen the tensioners, remove the other two, replace the broken belt and reassemble, properly tightening the tensioners. And skinning knuckles. You also had to carry three different-sized belts, not knowing which was which until you compared the remnants to the new. With the serpentine belt, yes, when it breaks, you lose all accessories, but you can carry only one belt, the over/under sequence is noted on the engine shroud and the tensioner is spring-loaded, requiring only some sort of pry bar (no, not your new Snap-On screwdriver). Bet you miss the dimmer switch on your car’s floorboard, too, don’t you?

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