What Are The Signs Of A Bad Car A/C Belt?

Exhausted young woman suffering from heat inside car

Though the A/C belt seems like a simple component, it is fundamental, as it is responsible for connecting an engine crankshaft with a compressor clutch, which enables the A/C compressor to activate and turn from engine power. Below are some warning signs that you’ve got a bad car A/C belt.

How Does the A/C Belt Function?

Also known as a serpentine or V-belt, it has a surface that is ribbed and flat that serves to attach multiple air conditioning components. V-belts tend to be narrower, and are aptly named since they are shaped like the letter V. They will only connect to 2 components, and when the belt starts to fail it will manifest a number of warning signs that you’ll definitely want to pay attention to.

You Hear Squealing Noises after Turning on the A/C

Hearing any type of noise after turning on your A/C is bad, but there are different types of sounds. Squealing is an indication that you’ve probably got a belt issue. The belt might be loose or contaminated by oil or water. It could also be that the belt is worn out and no longer able to sufficiently grip its pulleys. This will cause it to slip beneath the engine’s torque and then squeal, which is high pitched.

You’re Unable to Defrost the Windshield

While the two might not seem connected, an inability to defrost your windshield could be a sign of A/C belt trouble. This is because some automobiles have defrosters that are attached to their A/C system which need the compressor to properly function. If its belt slips or snaps this means the compressor won’t work, which translates into the defroster not working.

The A/C Belt Has Cracks

Another sign that you should replace your A/C belt is when you notice cracks forming in it. These belts are subject to wear just like everything else and when exposed to heat for long periods of time will ultimately develop dryness and then cracking. Older belts tend to be incapable of gripping properly which can cause them to break completely.

The A/C Belt Snaps Completely

If cracks develop in the serpentine belt, and you put off replacing it, eventually it may snap completely. Once this occurs, your air conditioning won’t work at all, and visually inspecting the belt will confirm the damage which has been sustained.

Abrasions Along the Sides or Back of the A/C Belt

During close examinations of the A/C belt, if you see abrasions along the sides or back, this means that the belt has received some sort of damage. It could come from the belt not properly riding the pulley grooves, while outright tears could be an indication that the belt has come into contact with a hard object like a bolt or rock.

If you think you’re having a problem with the vehicle’s A/C belt, it is recommended to take it to a technician who can have a look. The sooner you get the belt replaced, the sooner you can enjoy cool air once again.