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Understanding the difference between a Serpentine Belt vs Timing Belt For Your Fairfax, VA Vehicle

September 24, 2021

Understanding the difference between a Serpentine Belt vs Timing Belt

Most Fairfax, VA car owners don’t understand the difference between a serpentine belt vs timing belt. Sometimes these two belts are referred to as the same part. However, the serpentine belt and timing belt serve two completely different purposes.

In this blog we will discuss: 

  • The purpose of each of these belts
  • Their primary features
  • Average life expectancy and maintenance requirements
  • Causes of repair and replacement 
  • Consequences of these belts breaking

Before we get started, here is a picture of each belt and the parts that help them operate:

Understanding the difference between a Serpentine Belt vs Timing Belt
a graphic depicting serpentine belt

Refer to the chart below to learn the differences between a serpentine belt vs timing belt:

Serpentine BeltTiming Belt
It powers the alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning compressor and the water pump (in some vehicles).It allows your vehicle’s engine to operate by connecting your engine’s crankshaft to the camshaft and plays a vital role in controlling the pistons and valves in your vehicle.
Primary FeaturesIt is thin, black, long, ribbed and made out of rubber. Has multiple V-shaped grooves that run vertically along the belt and it has a snake-like coil structure on the outside of the engine, which gives it the name Serpentine.It is made up of materials like neoprene, molded polyurethane or welded urethane. The belt has horizontal teeth on the inside surface designed to fit the crankshaft and camshaft properly and it is located on the inside of the engine – i.e. not visible from outside.

As you can see, both the serpentine and timing belts are important and essential to your vehicle but they are very different in appearance and purpose.

If you are due for a serpentine or timing belt replacement, we would love to assist you! Click here to schedule an appointment.