Audi cars have some of the best German technology inside the hood. The serpentine belt is one of the German innovations. This was first seen in the 1985 model Mercedes-Benz 190 series.
The serpentine belt replaced the multiple fan belts or v-belts in older cars. A single, wider belt is more efficient and lasts longer than multiple, thinner belts. Serpentine belts typically last between 60,000 miles to 100,000 miles.
They will need to be replaced at some point in your car’s lifecycle. If your Audi serpentine belt needs changing, it will cost you between $86 and $208. An average of $52 to $111 will go to labor costs.
But with the right tools, changing the belt is easier than you think. Why shell out money for something you can do yourself? Here is a step-by-step guide on how to replace your serpentine belt.
An Overview of Serpentine Belts
We’ve heard of snakes on a plane, but what do snakes have to do with cars? A serpentine belt is one long drive belt that coils (like a snake) around multiple pulleys on the car engine. The belt provides power for the alternator, air conditioner, the power steering pump, and, in some cases, the cooling system water pump.
There are separate v-belts for different functions. These belts have a tendency to ‘flip over’ in the pulley groove at high RPM. This is due to the fact that v-belts are narrower and prone to stretching.
A serpentine belt is capable of higher tension without stretching. This is the reason why serpentine belts last longer. This also reduces slipping and translates to higher mechanical efficiency.
An important part of the snaking belt system is the automatic belt tensioner. This keeps the amount of tension constant to keep things running smoothly. This is another contributing factor to the longevity of serpentine belts.
The Ailing Snake
Your Audi serpentine belt is built to last, especially today with advancements in rubber technology. A typical replacement period for an Audi belt is every 100,000 miles or every five years.
However, the belt experiences constant heat and friction while driving. Over time, you will see signs of wear and tear, such as fraying, cracks, and glazing.
How do you know if your serpentine belt needs to be retired? Look for the following symptoms:
1. Instead of a Purr, You Hear Your Engine Squeal
An unnatural sound coming from your engine usually sets off alarms in your head. Why does it sound like that? Is this a serious problem that will need serious money?
Luckily, the problem may not be that severe. That squealing sound you’re hearing is probably due to your belt slipping.
When your belt starts to slip, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will need changing. Misaligned pulleys or a seized tensioner can cause slipping. Or it may be due to oil or coolant leaks.
If the squealing noise doesn’t come from the problems mentioned, you’re gonna have to inspect your serpentine belt. If there is damage or signs of wear, it is time to replace it.
2. You Are Sweating While Driving
Even with the air conditioner turned on, you’re sweating buckets. You’re working harder to steer the vehicle and the air conditioner doesn’t seem to be doing its job.
Power steering and AC failures are symptoms of a faulty serpentine belt. Because the serpentine belt controls many of your vehicle’s functions, your car will break down when the belt fails.
When this happens, you need to fix your serpentine belt system immediately. Leaving it like that will cause further damage and more expensive repairs.
3. Physical Signs of Damage
It is always a good idea to check your belt periodically, especially if it’s nearing its life expectancy. Check for cracks, abrasions, and fraying. Inspect the ribs for separation and dents. Rubber glazing is a sign that your belt is getting old.
If you see these signs, look for a replacement belt now.
The Guide to Replacing Your Audi Serpentine Belt
Now we are ready to tackle the surprisingly easy task of changing the serpentine belt. Follow these simple steps.
Make sure that you have the following on hand: your new Audi serpentine belt, your auto mechanic tools (with wrench and screwdriver), rags for cleaning, and protective gear (eyewear, gloves, and clothing).
Never attempt this operation without your car owner’s manual for reference. The belt routing diagram included in the manual will show you how to route the belt through the various pulleys.
If you’re having trouble locating the manual, we have the solution. You can find auto service repair manuals for Audi cars here. Look for the specific year, make, and model of your vehicle and download.
2. Removing the Old Belt
- First, park on a flat surface and turn your engine off. Open your hood and disconnect the battery.
- Locate the serpentine belt. It is usually at the front of the engine. Remove the engine covers, plastic clips and guards to expose the work area.
- Look for the belt tensioner. The tensioner uses an internal spring to apply constant pressure on the belt and to hold it in place.
- Before you can remove the old belt, you must loosen the spring tension. Use a wrench over the bolt of the tensioner and twist it away from the belt.
- Once the tension is released and the belt becomes slack, you can move the belt off the nearest pulley.
- Remove the belt from the rest of the pulleys and accessories.
3. Replacing with a New Belt
- Compare the old belt with your new Audi serpentine belt. Both of them should have the same width, length, and thickness.
- Study your belt routing schematic.
- Install the new belt through the pulleys according to the diagram in the manual. It should be in the exact same way as how the old belt was routed.
- Once the belt is in place, you can complete the replacement procedure by activating the belt tensioner.
- Make a final visual inspection of your work.
Ready to Get Back on the Road?
Changing the serpentine belt is easy if you follow this guide.
For more tips about car maintenance and repairs, spend more time on our blog.