Bad Alternator Belt Symptoms (9 Things To Be Aware Of)

When talking about car trouble, people almost often blame the engine or battery.

While these are essential parts that contribute to a car’s function, an often-overlooked part that may also affect the car is the alternator belt. Here’s what I found!

Bad Alternator Belt Symptoms

One of the symptoms of a bad alternator belt is a discharged battery. Additionally, a bad alternator belt can also result in the car failing to start or stalling while you’re driving. Loud noises, foul smells, and even flickering headlights and taillights may be indicative of a problem with the alternator belt.

Keep reading if you want to learn more about how a bad alternator belt can affect your car!

1. Discharged Battery

One of the symptoms of a bad alternator belt is a dead or discharged battery.

Generally, the alternator belt or serpentine belt is a large band that provides power to most of the engine’s components; one of which is the alternator.

Furthermore, the alternator is responsible for powering and charging the battery.

As a result, the alternator—and in turn the battery—can’t function when the alternator belt fails.

2. Failing Ignition System

In addition, your car not starting may also be an indication of a faulty alternator belt.

As I mentioned above, electric power flows from the alternator to other parts of the engine through the alternator belt.

However, if the alternator belt loosens or breaks, this can prevent the alternator from powering the spark plugs to start the car.

Thus, if your car won’t start, it’s likely due to a bad alternator belt.

3. Malfunctioning Power Steering

Furthermore, if power steering isn’t working on your car, it may be because of the alternator belt.

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Often, people think that the steering wheel has nothing to do with the engine; however, this isn’t the case as it is connected to the power steering system.

Additionally, the alternator belt is connected to the power steering and provides it energy to be able to maneuver your car according to your steering.

As such, you may lose the ability to control the steering wheel when the alternator belt is damaged.

4. AC System Not Working

In the same vein, a bad alternator belt may also affect the AC system and cause it not to function as it should.

Usually, the alternator belt provides energy to the AC system via the AC compressor.

However, the AC compressor may receive little to no power from the alternator belt when its teeth have been worn down.

Therefore, if your car’s air conditioner isn’t blowing any air, it could be helpful to check the alternator belt’s condition.

5. Overheating or Stalled Engine

Overheating or Stalled Engine

Additionally, another symptom of a malfunctioning alternator belt is engine trouble.

For example, an overheating engine can be caused by a broken alternator belt, since it can’t power the water pump that’s meant to keep the engine and its parts cool.

Moreover, another potential symptom is your engine suddenly dying or stalling, due to the belt separating or breaking off the pulley in the engine.

Thus, these things may point to trouble with the alternator belt.

6. Noises from the Engine

Aside from my points above, noises coming from your engine may point you to a damaged alternator belt.

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Due to age, a worn-out alternator belt can start to make screeching noises as it spins faster when your car is idle.

Further, you might hear ticking or flapping noises because of a frayed or misaligned alternator belt, respectively.

Therefore, it could well be that the alternator belt is causing problems with some of the engine’s parts, and so results in odd noises.

7. Burnt Smell from Under the Hood

A burning smell coming from your car’s engine bay may also be a sign that you have a bad alternator belt.

In this case, a burning smell will be produced by the internal wires of the car or alternator as they begin to break down from shorting or inconsistent current.

Additionally, this can also be observed when the belt is damaged or out of alignment and begins to rub improperly against other engine components.

As a result, a damaged alternator belt will almost immediately give off the almost distinct scent of burnt rubber.

8. Flickering Lights

Flickering headlights may also be an indication of something being wrong with the alternator belt.

Mainly, there may be an electrical problem if your car’s lights flicker or blink inexplicably and without cause.

Occasionally, these issues begin with the alternator or the battery as this indicates that something in the engine is failing to the point where it is almost entirely shutting down.

However, the alternator belt is probably to blame if the light issues become persistent over time and threaten to shut the alternator off entirely.

Ultimately, the consequences of this will be much bigger issues than merely strange lighting.

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9. Battery Warning Light on Dashboard

Sometimes, all you may notice on the dashboard is a straightforward battery warning light.

As the battery is connected to the alternator, this could signify a problem with the battery, but the alternator belt could also be at fault.

In this situation, the entire vehicle’s electrical system will be damaged as soon as the alternator belt starts to operate improperly.

Usually, the warning system will identify this as a battery issue.

Therefore, even when the belt is to blame, it will seem as though the battery is the problem.

To know more, you can also read our posts on ATV bad ignition coil symptoms, bad motor mount symptoms, and bad transmission mount symptoms


There are a few things to take note of when you think the alternator belt may be failing; these can include a warning light on your dashboard and unusual noises or smells.

Furthermore, a bad alternator belt can cause significant damage to your car’s engine and ignition system.

As such, it’s essential to have the alternator belt assessed by an auto specialist to address any issues.

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