How Much Does a Fan Belt Replacement Cost?

Written by: Staff

A fan belt is an essential component of any vehicle.  These belts are made of flexible material that connects the engine components such as the cooling fan to the alternator and crankshaft pulley.  These belts rotate when the engine is running, and if you fail to have your fan belt replacement, your car’s engine, alternator, air conditioner and other systems could be impacted, leading to higher auto repairs.

When the fan belt starts to squeak, this could be a warning for failure.  There are many kinds of fan belts that include serpentine fan belts, v-belts, and toothed belts; however, most cars today will use a single serpentine belt as opposed to the v-belt.

6º enHContro by Gh0stman, on Flickr
6º enHContro” (CC BY 2.0) by Gh0stman

How much does a fan belt replacement cost?

The cost of fan belt will depend on the type and where it’s purchased from.  Serpentine belts, for example, can range anywhere from $8 to $50.  V-belts can cost around $8 to $30, but some can cost more than $50. Toothed fan belts can cost anywhere from $6 to $20.  This is the price for the belts only, but most of the time, there’s a good chance you’re spending less than $30 for a belt.

If you were to factor in the professional installation at a local mechanic or dealership, it could cost an additional $40 to $150.  Since these belts can be installed fast, most shops will charge their minimum fee.  With the part included, plan on spending about $80 to $200 to have a new belt installed.

Dealerships can charge anywhere from $75 to as much as $200 for an authentic branded belt.  For example, a user stated that they paid upwards of $120 at their local Nissan dealership for a belt.

Fan belt overview

As noted in the introduction, there are a few common fan belts:  a serpentine belt, v-belt and toothed timing belt.  A serpentine belt is the most common and controls almost every function in the car.  A V-belt, also referred to as a fan belt, will perform the same functions as a serpentine.  Lastly, a toothed timing belt can drive the water, oil pumps and other components.

Belts are extremely simple to install and you’re going to more than likely pay the shop’s minimum fee.  Most belts can be installed in less than 20 minutes.

The process, again, is extremely simple.  A mechanic will simply inspect the belts for any cracks, and if any are found, the belt will simply be removed and a new one will be installed.  Each car will have different parts that may be blocking the access to the fan belt.  The mechanic, at the same time, should inspect the pulleys, seals and bearing for any damage as well.

The belt, which can be referred to as a drive belt, will often be made of a rubber material.  This belt is responsible for connecting the engine to the alternator, air conditioner, power steering and other important components.

What are the extra costs?

A mechanic may often recommend getting other components installed at the same time.  This can include a water pump, tensioner and engine seals.  A water pump, which is driven by the timing belt, can cost $100 to $800. A fan belt tensioner will provide the force to keep the belt tight and can be an additional $75 to $100.  Lastly, the seals can prolong the engine life

Tips to know

Most fan belts are made to last about 75,000 miles or five years, whichever one comes first.  Most mechanics recommend you replace it every 30,000 to 40,000 miles.  Even if you don’t drive a lot, the heat can wear down on the rubber, breaking it down.  The teeth of the belt, over time, can wear away as well.  As the belt ages, it can also develop cracks or the rubber can peel off the belt, creating a “frayed” look.

Warranties are usually included when purchasing fan belts.  Be sure to read the warranty information to see how long it is covered.  It can be anywhere from 90 days to a lifetime.

You will know your belt is going bad when you’re finding it hard to steer the steering wheel or you hear noises when you make sharp turns.  Other signs may include an engine that overheats or an illuminated battery warning light.

If replacing the belt on your own, refer to the part number on the side of the belt.  By performing a search, you should be able to find an identical part to replace it with.

A failing belt will lead to the valves and pistons to not be in sync with one another.  When this happens, the pistons and internal walls of the cylinders can become damaged.  In the worst case scenario, the camshaft can become damaged as well.

Today, most cars have one belt known as the serpentine belt, but some cars may have more than one belt, but overall, the serpentine belt will do most of the work.

How can I save money?

In order not save on the shipping fee, it is much better to purchase the item at a local auto parts store.

To free you from the installation cost, ask a friend to do it or try to do it by yourself if you can.  Check some tutorials online to find out how it can be done.  Most say it’s a fairly simple DIY project.

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