By August 27, 2008 Read More →

Broken Serpentine Fan Belt

Hi again Austin,

Just an FYI: Your “0 – 60k Miles” and the “70 – 120k Miles” car maintenance schedules have no information in the “Belts” row for inspection or maintenance.

About a month ago, my Mazda with 65,000 left me sitting on the turnpike and cost $300US by the time it was over with. When I came home, I looked at both my Mazda (two belts) and Taurus (one serpentine belt) vehicle handbooks, and in both cases, nothing was mentioned about replacing these inexpensive belts. What a gross oversite imho. This must be some major honeypot for the auto repair industry, so no one makes mention of it as a required maintenance item.

Just from experience, I would say replace all engine exterior rubber belts at every 50k miles, and (if so equiped) the engine interior rubber timing belt at no more than every 100k miles.

Fo wht that’s worth . . .



Thank you again for your time and email.

You are correct about the hassle and expense of a broken belt. And you are also correct, I totally left out the change interval on my list….shame on me!

The rule of thumb used to be replace all rubber products (belts and hoses) at 60K miles, but the quality of the rubber belts and hoses seems to have increased over the last few years and many shops are allowing more time between change intervals.

To be honest, I have only seen maybe 1…..yes 1, serpentine fan belt actually break do to excessive wear. Now, I have seen many of them break or come off the pulley due to a broken belt tensioner or a bad pulley or something else on the engine that broke and caused the belt to jump the pulley.

I have seen severely cracked serpentine fan belts last 100K or more on some of my more price conscious customers, and I have seen many shops replace serpentine belts with just a few small cracks…..which I think is more of a sales ploy than an actual needed repair.

I would definitely have a talk with your oil change place for not bringing the worn out belt to your attention, I am surprised they did not try to upsell you a belt on your last few visits.


Austin Davis


Reader Follow Up

Ha! The irony of my $300 belt job, is that I’m the “oil change guy”. It was my own stupid fault.

My ’93 Taurus (68k original miles) needs repairs occasionally and I’ve had the serpentine belt off a couple times over the years. I see some wear, and it gets replaced.

This is the 3rd Protege I had in the last 10 years. Since they never seem to require much more than batteries, brakes, air cleaners, oil and gas, it was too easy to just let it slip my mind. Won’t make that mistake again though.


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Austin Davis, consumer car repair advocate. "Hi there! I love to help people solve their car repair problems and I hope my site was helpful to you today. Thank you for stopping by."

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