• Alternator belt functions in the car
  • For what reason the alternator belt breaks
  • Can I drive if the alternator belt breaks
  • What to do first if the alternator belt breaks on the road
  • Signs of a quick break in the alternator belt
  • What do drivers think about the situation when the alternator belt has broken

Any car enthusiast may be in a situation where the alternator belt has broken on the way. Of course, many are interested in the causes of the break, but they are not the main thing in this case. It is much better to figure out what to do and how to move on.

In this material, we will analyze in detail why the alternator belt breaks, what to do immediately after detecting the problem, how to get to the nearest workshop and whether it is possible, in principle, to drive a car if the drive belt is broken.

Alternator belt functions in the car

alternator belt

The alternator belt is torn? Before you figure out how serious this is, you need to understand its purpose. Let’s imagine a modern car and its contents. On-board computer, air conditioning and navigation systems, anti-theft device and much more. These gadgets work thanks to electric current.

If the car engine is muffled, they are powered by the battery. As soon as you start the engine, the alternator starts to work. It not only ensures the operation of gadgets and devices, but also charges the battery, promotes the transmission of torque from the ICE crankshaft to the shaft of the alternator. The belt may break or break very unexpectedly while driving. In this case, it will not be able to perform his functions. What will happen if the alternator belt breaks, we will understand below.

How to determine that the alternator belt has broken?

To understand whether the alternator belt has broken or not, pay attention to the following symptoms:

  • The low battery indicator appears on the dashboard. The icon lights up due to a malfunction in the battery and alternator.
  • The power of the headlights has changed. Suppose, when you depress the gas pedal, they will fade and will not shine as brightly as usual.

What happens when a belt breaks?

What consequences can arise if the alternator belt breaks:

  • Lack of power to the vehicle’s mains and all its devices due to improper operation of the alternator set.
  • Gadgets and appliances powered by electricity will begin to consume battery power directly.

In addition, the clutch of the air conditioning system in the car and the pump of the hydraulic power steering will stop functioning.

For what reason the alternator belt breaks

Generator belt

The arisen problem is solved simply. It is enough to install a new belt. After that, you can use the car in normal mode. But how to prevent this unpleasant situation again? Before installing a new one, you need to understand why the old alternator belt broke. Consider the possible reasons:

  • operation of the product in excess of the recommended terms, wear;
  • defective belt;
  • shafts, tensioners or pulleys are not working properly;
  • The belt is too loose or too tight.

The alternator belt has a specific life. We recommend changing it in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations, without waiting for the moment when it breaks. This can also happen due to reasons beyond your control, for example, a poor-quality product will last much less, but most often the fault is the incorrect adjustment of the transmission system.

The device consists of two pulleys on shafts interconnected by a belt, as well as a tension unit. If the pulley deviates from the plane of operation, the alternator belt may break due to overheating or destruction of its elements.

Pay attention to the unit tension. If it is too weak, the belt slips without interlocking with the surface of the pulley. In this case, the belt loses its elasticity, overheats and then collapses. With excessive tension of the product, its tension is observed, as a result of which the reinforcing fibers break. To answer the question why the alternator belt has torn, you need to take into account possible additional reasons:

  • Failure of the tensioner roller. It also has a useful life, non-observance of which can lead to unpleasant consequences. Replacing the product will solve the problem.
  • The weakening of the fixation of the generating device and the hydraulic power steering. The mount may crack and break the straps. Most likely the problem is the curvature of the alternator bracket, the reason for this must be found.
  • Alternator protection not installed. In this case, dust, dirt, pebbles, branches, leaves and much more fly there.
  • The alternator or pump is jammed. This happens very often. Check if the on-board voltage in the alternator has dropped using a voltmeter, and for the pump, use the internal combustion engine temperature readings.
  • Negligent attitude to the electrics of cars. The “consumers” of electric current can include an emergency icon, external lighting devices, a radio tape recorder and an audio system, wipers, etc. When they are turned on simultaneously, the load on the alternator device increases, as a result of which it rotates worse and the belt turns.

Why did the alternator belt break? How to establish the true cause? Experts recommend paying attention to the belt itself. Determine which side it has worn out and analyze what could have caused it.

Can I drive if the alternator belt breaks

Can I drive if the alternator belt breaks

Car owners often wonder if it is possible to drive if the alternator belt has broken. Yes, you can continue the journey, but you will be able to overcome a short distance, depending on the battery charge. Therefore, if such a nuisance happens to you, we recommend that you get to the nearest car service.

Do not forget to turn off devices that consume electrical energy, such as air conditioning, audio system, GPS-navigator, external and internal lighting devices.

Of course, if the problem happened at night, the headlights must be left, because without them it is unsafe to continue driving. Having approached the repair site, do not turn off the engine, as its restarting will contribute to a faster discharge of the battery due to the additional load. But still, if the alternator belt has broken, we do not recommend further movement.

It should be borne in mind that in modern models, the auto drive of the alterntor and pump is carried out at the expense of one belt. Movement with the lack of circulation of the internal combustion engine coolant can lead to overheating and serious repair. The battery is also better not to discharge until the end. Therefore, once in a similar situation, use the services of a tow truck that will take your car to the nearest car service.

What to do first if the alternator belt breaks on the road

what to do when alternator breaks

The most important rule in the case when the alternator belt is torn is not to panic. If this happened in the city near the auto parts store or service station, you can drive to them yourself. Otherwise, we recommend using materials that are at hand to replace the belt. It is allowed to use:

  • a rope;
  • tights;
  • tie;
  • a belt strap with ends connected by wire brackets;
  • old wheeled chamber.

The selected material must be very durable. Consider the process of replacing a alternator belt with a rope. Fold it in half twice. The tensioner must be lowered to the limit and install the lace. After that, the roller will stretch and return to its previous position. The rope should bend about 1 cm in the middle, do not loosen it.

Signs of a quick break in the alternator belt and preventive measures

A little higher, we talked about the possible consequences of the situation when the alternator belt broke, and answered the question whether it is possible to go on the battery. As you remember, further driving in the event of a breakdown threatens serious repair. So, you need to pre-check the signs of belt wear and take action. How to do it? This information is important for owners of any car – domestic and European.

The alternator belt may break in the near future if:

  • Cracks formed on the ribbed surface. Carefully inspect the ribs of the belt along and across. There should be no damage.
  • Fragments of the surface of the belt crumble. If there are exfoliated pieces or crumbs of material on the inside of the product, urgent measures must be taken. In this case, the unit may break off very soon.
  • Damage to the ribbed surface is observed. The material may wear off and accumulate in the recesses of the product.
  • Abrasive wear has occurred. Initially, the outer surface of the belt is smooth and shiny, but during operation, traces appear on it. The layer can be erased up to the fabric, which indicates its soon break.
  • One or more ribs peeled off. During operation, they are shifted to the side, which leads to their separation from the base of the structure of the alternator belt.
  • The ribbed surface is worn unevenly. In this case, one rib has more characteristic signs of wear than others. During movement, an extraneous sound appears, similar to friction.
  • Extreme ribs damaged and worn. At the same time, the belt itself becomes glossy on the sides. The process is accompanied by extraneous loud noise during alternator operation. This situation often leads to a tightening of the belt in the timing gear drive, resulting in severe damage to the engine.
  • The ribbed surface is sticky, in the form of scales. Her swelling is observed. This may be caused by the ingress of engine oil or other liquids onto the product.
  • The low battery icon on the dashboard lights up. The indicator appears due to a malfunction in the battery or alternator.
  • There is noise and extraneous sounds during the operation of the alternator. You can hear creak, rattle, knock, clicks, tweets.
  • Cracks appeared on the outer surface of the belt. Extraneous sounds will appear very soon and the alternator belt will break.
  • External lighting does not function properly. For example, when depressing the gas pedal, the headlights dim, and when pressed, they return to normal. This is due to the fact that when you accelerate, the belt spins faster.

The alternator belt is torn? How to prevent this from happening again? Do not forget about preventive measures to identify the degree of wear.

Follow the belt life recommended by the manufacturer. Change the product in a timely manner, approximately every 30 thousand kilometers.

Check belt tension regularly. It should not be too weak or strong.

Check the condition of the belt every 5 thousand km. If signs of wear appear, change it immediately. If cracks appear on it, it’s time to buy a new one.

Do not allow motor fluids to get on the belt.

alternator belt for sale

What do drivers think about the situation when the alternator belt has broken

  1. It can be very unpleasant“Today I parked in the yard and heard a knock under the bonnet. I opened and saw that the alternator belt had broken. I started the car again and tried to drive on the road to call a tow truck. As a result, the knock stopped, but the engine stalled and no longer wound up. In the car service they said that the unit wound up under the timing, as a result, the head of the engine block broke. “
  2. It’s better not to drive if the alternator belt has broken“My advice is that if the belt is torn, you can’t continue driving! Call a tow truck or friends with a new belt, otherwise the engine will overheat, the head of the engine block will fly and fly in full. ”
  3. Not so simple with this strap.“If the belt is torn, it is sucked between the pulley and the plastic cover that covers the gears. As a result, this cover flies or the alternator belt is pulled under it during rotation and is under the timing belt. And then you yourself understand what will happen. “
  4. Easy to say – no driving“You can’t drive if the belt is broken. But what if this happened on the highway? One famous magazine advises using stockings as a replacement. The idea is super, unless of course a woman is nearby. It’s necessary to tie them up, cut off the excess, and you can easily get to the nearest car service. ”
  5. Do not breed panic“The main thing – do not panic! It’s clear that it’s easy to say, but in fact it’s not so simple, but I recommend going out and smoking first. Having calmed down, you need to see what happened there after all. The belt either fell off or was torn. If the latter happened, see what is at hand. It will be necessary to link the crankshaft pulleys with the pump. A rope is great.We somehow rode with my wife, the belt was torn, I was not taken aback and used her belt. Strong women’s tights or laces about the length of the strap itself are also suitable. Tie the pulleys and go. I’ve traveled about 150 km, and then the battery charge was done.

craig sandeman rotated

With over twenty years of experience in the automotive industry, Craig Sandeman established Engine Finder to address the need for high-quality used engines by leveraging a network of reputable scrap yards and engine importers throughout South Africa.


Potential issues, causes, and solutions have been identified in the above article based on the experiences of car owners and repairers, as well as web materials such as forum blogs and technical support bulletins. This data is supplied exclusively for the purpose of reference. Only appropriately qualified persons should perform repairs and/or changes on your vehicles.

While it’s important to keep in mind, it’s also important to note that the amount of times anything is mentioned here should not be seen as a sign of its reliability or frequency. Various owners, driving in different ways, and caring for their vehicles in distinct ways will cause two identical vehicles to perform differently.

As previously said, this material is supplied primarily for reference reasons; nonetheless, we hope that by doing so, we will be able to supply you with essential knowledge that will allow you to make informed decisions whenever you encounter any of the aforementioned setbacks.

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