What Is a Fan Belt?

by William Lynch
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Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Reg Mckenna

A fan belt, often called a drive belt, is an essential engine component in most vehicles. Fan belt failure can lead to decreased performance or complete stalling.


Fan belts are flexible rubber belts connecting engine components.


A fan belt connects the engine cooling fan to the alternator and crankshaft pulley. Belts are also used to power components such as the air conditioner compressor, the power steering pump and the water pump.


When the engine is running, drive belts rotate and generate power.


While older cars employ several belts to operate different parts of the engine, most modern cars only use one belt, called a serpentine belt, to drive all components.


Fan belts will wear down over time and break, particularly if they come in contact with oil. Belts should be periodically checked to ensure proper engine performance.


A worn fan belt will squeak and make noise during operation to warn of impending failure.

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