What Is a Drive Belt in a Car?

by Ted Marten

A drive belt is the big belt that you see when you open the hood of your car. The drive belt is a continuous belt that is used to drive multiple peripheral devices in a car;'s engine, such as an alternator, water pump, power steering pump, A/C compressor and air pump.


A drive belt creates higher tension in your car, which will increase your car's mechanical efficiency. Tension refers to the capacity of the belt's rotation--high tension creates less friction in the engine, and gives your car a better overall performance.


It is important to replace your drive belt when it's scheduled to be replaced, because a car belt's appearance will not give any indication if it's on the verge of failure or not.

Fun Fact

A drive belt is sometimes referred to as a serpentine belt.


There are some cars that utilize a multiple drive belt system rather than a single drive belt. If a drive belt breaks in a multiple drive belt system, you may not realize it, because you will still have the ability to drive your car. But if you don't fix your drive belt, it can cause permanent damage to your car.


A single drive belt is very easy to maintain and replace, but if it does break, it is going to cause your car to breakdown.

About the Author

Ted Marten lives in New York City and began writing professionally in 2007, with articles appearing on various websites. Marten has a bachelor's degree in English and has also received a certificate in filmmaking from the Digital Film Academy.