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View Full Version : When your serpentine belt snaps...how do you know if it took anything else with it?


TechHead87
02-01-2009, 08:42 AM
Last night, my belt decided to die. I got the normal symptons...steering column locks up, and power to the engine goes dead. Luckily, I was able to turn the wheel far enough to get across 1 lane of BUSY interstate-speed traffic and onto the shoulder. The car was towed to my mechanic.

I looked under the hood, and no fluids were spotted, but I'm kinda worried that my mechanic is going to call me and say "you've got a busted such-and-such too". How do I know if anything else went with the belt?

Thanks

Marlin1975
02-01-2009, 08:54 AM
First..

Year, make, model, engine, milage, etc...



The only thing thast a belt may do damge to is other "soft" items. Such as hoses, other belts, wiring, etc... Majority of the time when a belt broke and the car was hauled to my shop I inspect the basic stuff and spin all the pulleys by hand to make sure the belt was not killed instead of died by old age. If that all checked out I install a new belt and let it run for a couple on minutes and also turn on the AC to make sure that was not the problem as well.

TechHead87
02-01-2009, 09:32 AM
1995 Buick Regal GS,
Engine: 3800 ("pre-series 1")
124k miles
No A/C Compressor...belt has bypassed the compressor for months.

Marlin1975
02-01-2009, 09:37 AM
Yea there should not be to much to damage on that setup. Just check all the pullys by hand and look for anything really out there and make sure you get all the old belt off. Then just install a new one. If you don;t have any tools Advance/Autozone has one in their loan a tool program.

LTC8K6
02-01-2009, 10:52 AM
Your engine should have run for quite a while even after the serpentine belt snapped. The battery should have provided enough power to run the electricals for a while.

You should have seen a charging system light first, and then it should have started overheating, since the alternator and water pump weren't turning, but the engine was running.

If the engine really quit right when the belt snapped, I suspect at least you have a very weak battery.

Pacfanweb
02-01-2009, 10:29 PM
It's unusual for a serpentine belt to break without some help from a failing component, such as an A/C pulley that's locking up. It CAN happen, but most belt failures that I've seen were caused by one of the accessories it turned locking up.

So be ready for that call from the mechanic.

Now, if the belt really did just break from old age, it's unlikely it tore anything up under the hood.

TechHead87
02-04-2009, 07:07 PM
Update:

Mechanic says that the water pump locked up, which caused the belt to snap...and the belt took out the harmonic balancer and the crank sensor.

After replacing ALL FOUR F-KING PARTS, the engine now vibrates.

God I hate life.

LTC8K6
02-04-2009, 09:45 PM
Now I know why the engine stopped immediately...

Sorry for your bad luck...

Zenmervolt
02-04-2009, 10:20 PM
Originally posted by: TechHead87
Update:

Mechanic says that the water pump locked up, which caused the belt to snap...and the belt took out the harmonic balancer and the crank sensor.

After replacing ALL FOUR F-KING PARTS, the engine now vibrates.

God I hate life.

Chances are that the mechanic installed the balancer incorrectly. If a balance shaft is not properly aligned, it can actually create extra vibration. Take it back and have the mechanic fix his error.

Also, the serpentine belt does not drive the balance shafts, those are usually either gear or chain driven on cars with a timing chain. Occasionally they are driven by a toothed belt, but if that were the case there would be a replacement interval listed for the balancer belts in your car's manual. It strikes me as extremely unlikely that a serpentine belt could take out a harmonic balancer on your car.

ZV

Marlin1975
02-05-2009, 06:22 AM
Originally posted by: Zenmervolt
Originally posted by: TechHead87
Update:

Mechanic says that the water pump locked up, which caused the belt to snap...and the belt took out the harmonic balancer and the crank sensor.

After replacing ALL FOUR F-KING PARTS, the engine now vibrates.

God I hate life.

Chances are that the mechanic installed the balancer incorrectly. If a balance shaft is not properly aligned, it can actually create extra vibration. Take it back and have the mechanic fix his error.

Also, the serpentine belt does not drive the balance shafts, those are usually either gear or chain driven on cars with a timing chain. Occasionally they are driven by a toothed belt, but if that were the case there would be a replacement interval listed for the balancer belts in your car's manual. It strikes me as extremely unlikely that a serpentine belt could take out a harmonic balancer on your car.

ZV

He never said balance shaft. :confused:

Also I agree that the Serp belt should not take out the balancer part, but the teeth on the back could have been damaged which would also explain why the crank sensor was replaced as well. Which would have meant a replacment.

Also the balancer on the 3.8L is known to go bad. OP take your hand and try to move the outside part of the balancer. If it moves freely from the inside part then the rubber has gone bad. But if that was the case you here a clanking noise as well. It could have just got a bad one. Have the tech replcace, or at least remove and reinstall it.

rezinn
02-05-2009, 01:38 PM
Sounds like your mechanic better fix that harmonic balancer for free because he screwed it up somehow. Maybe installed the wrong one, check the diameter of it.

amdhunter
02-05-2009, 01:45 PM
lol, when the water pump on my Galant died, I was pissed that the part cost me $25 dollars and the labor $300...lol

Water pumps are the worst things to fix.

Zenmervolt
02-05-2009, 01:53 PM
Originally posted by: Marlin1975
Originally posted by: Zenmervolt
Originally posted by: TechHead87
Update:

Mechanic says that the water pump locked up, which caused the belt to snap...and the belt took out the harmonic balancer and the crank sensor.

After replacing ALL FOUR F-KING PARTS, the engine now vibrates.

God I hate life.

Chances are that the mechanic installed the balancer incorrectly. If a balance shaft is not properly aligned, it can actually create extra vibration. Take it back and have the mechanic fix his error.

Also, the serpentine belt does not drive the balance shafts, those are usually either gear or chain driven on cars with a timing chain. Occasionally they are driven by a toothed belt, but if that were the case there would be a replacement interval listed for the balancer belts in your car's manual. It strikes me as extremely unlikely that a serpentine belt could take out a harmonic balancer on your car.

ZV

He never said balance shaft. :confused:

Also I agree that the Serp belt should not take out the balancer part, but the teeth on the back could have been damaged which would also explain why the crank sensor was replaced as well. Which would have meant a replacment.

Also the balancer on the 3.8L is known to go bad. OP take your hand and try to move the outside part of the balancer. If it moves freely from the inside part then the rubber has gone bad. But if that was the case you here a clanking noise as well. It could have just got a bad one. Have the tech replcace, or at least remove and reinstall it.

My fault. I completely misread that.

ZV

TechHead87
02-05-2009, 05:54 PM
So, the general consensus is the harmonic balancer was not installed properly?

What are the chances of it (or some other part) failing if I continue to drive it like this for another couple of weeks? I don't have the money to get it replaced again...