22. Timing Belt vs Serpentine Belt1

Timing Belt vs Serpentine Belt – Are They The Same

Read Time:6 Minute, 50 Second

For the average person, remembering all the names of the various car components is difficult. The distinction between the vehicle belts is one of the most typical misunderstandings we encounter at our shop. Both the timing belt and the serpentine belt serve very different purposes in your car.

The timing belt, which is located inside the engine, maintains alignment between the crankshaft and camshaft. To ensure that the engine runs smoothly, the timing belt controls when the intake and exhaust valves open and close in relation to the pistons. While the engine accessories are kept running smoothly and effectively by the serpentine belt. The motor’s exterior engine crankshaft is linked to all of its components by a serpentine belt.

When you look at the ribs on the belt, you can instantly tell the difference between the two belts. A timing belt has horizontal “teeth” that are made to fit both the crankshaft and camshaft. A serpentine belt, on the other hand, has numerous vertical V-shaped grooves that run the length of the belt.

What Is Serpentine Belt?

The alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning compressor, and (occasionally) water pump all receive their power from the engine accessories via the serpentine belt, a lengthy rubber belt.

An accessory belt or fan belt may be other names for serpentine belts that you’ve heard. This is due to the numerous drive belts that previously connected the engine to the accessories (like the radiator fan) in automobiles.

But to power all the accessories in modern cars, there is typically just one belt that passes through numerous pulleys.

Even though utilizing a single belt is the most effective and dependable choice, it also means that when your car’s serpentine belt fails, everything stops working. The A/C will stop working, your battery will eventually die, and the engine could overheat. Additionally, the engine accessories it controls might be harmed.

When Ought The Serpentine Belt To Be Changed?

You can expect a long lifespan from your serpentine belt. Under ideal circumstances, your car’s serpentine belt should last 60,000–100,000 miles. Even if this belt appears to be in good shape, it must be replaced as part of your vehicle’s routine maintenance. To avoid having a breakdown while driving, you should adhere to the manufacturer’s suggested interval. In order to give you a better idea of when to replace it with a new one, our qualified team of technicians at Kaufman’s Auto Repairs can perform a visual inspection.

The Belts You Can See Are Serpentine Belts.

The serpentine belt, which is a thin, rubber belt that winds around several engine components like a snake (hence the name “serpentine”), should be visible when you pop the hood to inspect your engine block. However, timing belts are hidden deeper inside the engine block and are not visible from the outside.

What Happens If A Serpentine Belt Breaks

To have a serpentine belt checked out by a mechanic or, if you’re competent, to have the belt replaced, make an appointment. The car’s accessories will stop working if the serpentine belt breaks.

First off, your car’s alternator will stop charging the battery, which will cause the battery to quickly deplete. Because a car’s battery drains so quickly, you probably won’t travel more than a few blocks before it stops working and won’t start.

The loss of power steering will make steering the vehicle very challenging. The cooling fan or water pump in your car may also be driven by the serpentine belt.

Your car will quickly overheat if one of these isn’t working properly, which could again be catastrophic and expensive since a complicated repair will be necessary and will cost more in both parts and labor.

What Is Timing Belt

Timing Belt Replacement Can Be Expensive

Timing belts themselves may not be very expensive, but the harm a broken timing belt can do to your engine is frequently almost always irreparable. Pistons, valves, and cylinder heads will all be severely damaged if the timing belt snaps, in some cases to the point where a new engine will be necessary. Due to the timing belt’s internal location in the engine, a simple replacement may result in a high labor cost. In contrast, if your serpentine belt breaks, you can typically just replace the belt without causing significant engine damage.

Read More: What is a Timing Belt – How to Replace It

Where Are Timing Belts Found?

Timing belts are difficult to access and are found under the timing cover.

You may need to remove the alternator, a wheel, a fan, or an engine mount in order to access the timing belt and perform the necessary maintenance on it, depending on the engine configuration of your car.

Although it is occasionally challenging to determine a timing belt’s condition, you can typically inspect one through the inspection port in the timing cover.

What Components Do Timing Belts Contain?

The timing belt is a direct drive belt with cogs, also known as gears, built into the belt that mesh with the gears of the crankshaft pulley and the camshaft pulley.

It is built more rigidly than a serpentine belt, designed to resist stretching under intense heat, and to some extent resistant to possible contamination with oil or coolant.

22. Timing Belt vs Serpentine Belt2

Serpentine Belt Vs. Timing Belt

Avoid confusion; a timing belt and a serpentine belt are not the same. Your car’s timing belt and serpentine belt serve very distinct purposes.

To keep the crankshaft and camshaft in synchronization, the timing belt is located inside the engine. This guarantees that the engine’s intake and exhaust valves open and close in sync with the pistons for smooth operation.

The engine accessories run smoothly and effectively thanks to the serpentine belt. It links all of the engine’s accessories to the crankshaft on the outside of the engine.

When examining the grooves, it is simple to distinguish between the two. A timing belt has horizontal “teeth” designed to fit the cogwheels of the crankshaft and camshaft. Multiple V-shaped grooves run vertically along a serpentine belt’s length.

Ask your mechanic or look in the owner’s manual to find out if you also need to replace your timing belt at the same time because these belts frequently need to be replaced at the same time.

Read More:

Replacement Costs

A timing belt replacement is significantly more expensive than a serpentine belt replacement.

There are suggested replacement intervals for both the timing belt and the serpentine belt.

The price to replace a timing belt depends on the vehicle’s make and model. Click to view our cost analysis of replacing a timing belt on various makes and models.

Replacement Costs For A Serpentine Belt

Anytime between 7 to 9 years or 90,000 miles must pass before a serpentine belt needs to be replaced. To confirm the interval for your particular vehicle, however, consult your mechanic or owner’s manual.

A serpentine belt replacement is typically a simple procedure.

The belt is inexpensive and can be installed quickly by a skilled mechanic.

Serpentine belt replacements typically cost less than $100 due to low labor and component costs.

Replacement Costs For A Timing Belt

A timing belt typically needs to be replaced every 5 to 7 years, or 60,000 to 105,000 miles, whichever comes first. Again, confirm the interval for your particular vehicle with your mechanic or owner’s manual.

Because it requires a lot of labor, replacing a timing belt is quite expensive.

Timing belt repairs typically take longer than 5 hours to complete.

The timing belt is not very expensive, typically costing only $50. Even so, it is strongly advised to replace other parts made accessible while you’re at it since it takes a lot of labor to remove the components required to change the belt.


Both timing and serpentine belts are crucial components of your car, but they differ significantly in terms of appearance, construction, and use, not to mention cost of repair. Whether and when you might need to think about replacing these belts is something your mechanic can assist you with determining. Although expensive, vehicle repairs don’t have to slow you down.

Average Rating

5 Star
4 Star
3 Star
2 Star
1 Star

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

21. What is a Timing Belt1 Previous post What is a Timing Belt – How to Replace It
20. What Are the Main Parts of a Braking System1 Next post What Are the Main Parts of a Braking System – Brake Parts Explained