Are the Serpentine Belt and Timing Belt the Same?

With so many car parts, it's hard for the average person to keep track of all the names. One of the most common confusions we see at our shop is between the vehicle belts. There is the serpentine belt and timing belt, and they both have very different roles in your vehicle.


The timing belt can be found inside the engine and keeps the crankshaft and camshaft in sync. The timing belt ensures that the engine intake and exhaust valves open and close in time with the pistons to run smoothly. On the other hand, the serpentine belt is what keeps the engine accessories operating smoothly and efficiently. The serpentine belt connects the engine crankshaft on the outside of the motor to all of its accessories.


You can immediately tell the distinction between the two belts when you look at the ribs on the belt. A timing belt has horizontal "teeth" that are made to fit both the crankshaft and camshaft. In contrast, a serpentine belt has multiple V-shaped grooves that appear vertically along the belt.

Over time, these belts need to be replaced (roughly around the same time). You can always ask your trusted mechanic or refer to your owner's manual for more instruction.


When Should You Replace the Serpentine Belt?

Your serpentine belt is made to last a long time. Under ideal circumstances, your car's serpentine belt should last 60,000–100,000 miles. It's crucial to renew this belt as part of your vehicle's scheduled maintenance, even if it still looks like it's in good condition. You should follow your manufacturer's recommended interval to prevent it from breaking while you're on the road. Additionally, our expert team of technicians at Kaufman's Auto Repairs can do a visual inspection to give you a better idea of when to swap it out for a new one.


What Are the Symptoms of a Worn Serpentine Belt?

As mentioned before, serpentine belts can last you up to 100,000 miles. But ultimately, the heat and friction from your internal components will wear it down. Here are some signs of a declining serpentine belt:

  • Cracking, glazing, or fraying
  • Squealing or chirping sounds
  • Performance loss (power steering failure, unexpected drained battery, or stalled engine)
  • Check engine light on

If you suspect that you need a new serpentine belt, please bring your car to our expert team at Kaufman's Auto Repairs. For all your automotive needs, please give us a call or visit today!

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