FAQs—Ford Drive Belt
1. How often should an accessory drive belt of a Ford vehicle be replaced? What would be the average interval?
The accessory drive belt keeps various components such as the A/C compressor, P/S pump, and alternator running and working. If this belt breaks, this can create a lot of problems. The battery, for instance, won't be charged since the belt the drives the alternator is broken. The A/C also won't be able to circulate cold air if the compressor isn't working. This is why the drive belt should be scheduled for inspection as preventive maintenance. A faulty belt must be replaced before it even breaks completely. The interval for inspection and replacement varies widely. But on an average, a belt should last about 60,000 to 100,000 miles. On most Ford vehicles, the recommended interval is after 100,000 miles. Check your vehicle manual for the specific maintenance and service recommendations for a specific model. It would be best to check the belts periodically, at least once a year if the vehicle is a few years old.
2. When I checked my Ford drive belt, it seemed frayed. Apparently, the belt needs to be replaced. Other than normal wear, what could probably cause the belt to be damaged?
The pulleys and the tensioners that support and guide the drive belt should also be inspected. Although belts usually break because of normal wear, these parts may also contribute to the damage. So before you replace the belt, first check if the tensioners and pulleys are working right or in good condition. If not, then you'll have to replace them. This will ensure that the belt will work properly and will last as expected.
3. Just a week ago, I checked on the belt as I looked around underneath the hood. It seemed to be in good shape. There are no cracks or signs of frayed parts. That's why I was surprised to find out that the belt slipped and caused the intermittent alternator output. What did I miss when checked the belt?
Even if the belt doesn't have any crack or doesn't appear frayed, it doesn't mean that it's in it best condition. You also have to check the grooves, especially on parts that are hidden. They may already be worn out, causing the belt to slip on the pulleys driving the accessories. Belt slippage can also be triggered by oil and antifreeze leaks. Check the belts at least once a year. A more thorough belt inspection is needed, so you'll know if it's time to replace it even before it fails completely.
4. When I was driving to a nearby grocery store, I head this squealing noise when accelerating. The squeal isn't coming from the brakes. What could cause such kind of noise? I'm thinking that it's the slipping belt.
If you hear that squealing noise under acceleration, then than could that you have a worn-out belt. The belt could be slipping due to wear. Another thing to look into is the belt tensioner. It could already be loose. Also see if the pulley is still aligned or not. Don't drive the vehicle yet until you've figured this out.
5. Aside from the chirp or squeal caused by a slipping belt, what are the other signs of belt failure? How can I tell if I have to inspect and/or replace the belt?
As much as possible, you wouldn't want to deal with a slipping belt or a broken one. This will cause troubles. When it's failing, you may notice system performance loss. For instance, the battery may not charge and can get drained easily. The P/S pump may fail or the engine may stall. The components controlled or driven by the belt may not function properly. When the check engine light flickers, this means that something's wrong. You should always check the belt.