Types of Drive Belts

by Amber Kelsey

Drive belts, often referred to as fan belts, are used to transfer rotary motion between two shafts via a series of pulleys. This rotary motion provides power in many engine-mounted accessories, such as car engines, air compressors, pumps and exhaust fans. There are five common types of drive belts.


V-belts, or Vee belts, are typically used for light-duty power equipment and appliances. V-belts fit in a deep, Vee-shaped groove inside of the pulley wheels, and provide high-traction power.

Poly-V Belts

Poly-V belts, also called serpentine belts, are flat on the outside and have multiple Vee-shaped grooves on the inside. This type of drive belt provides the high-traction power of a traditional V-belt in only one belt.

V-Link Belts

V-link belts are similar to traditional V-belts, but are open-ended and don't require the use of metal fasteners. V-link belts are typically used when obstructions make it difficult to reach the drive belt. This type of drive belt tends to be expensive and has a limited load capacity.

Flat Belts

Flat belts are light-weight drive belts that can handle high speeds. This type of drive belt has a tendency to slip because there is less traction.

Timing Belts

Timing belts, sometimes called synchronous belts, are generally used in low-power applications. Timing belts have teeth on the inside and do not depend on friction. Timing belts have a more limited power capacity than other types of drive belts.

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Photo Credits

  • photo_camera A. B. Kelsey