I don't know about you, but belt squeaks drive me crazy. It's common for these little annoying chirps and squeaks to develop in old belts that have become dry or glazed. Sometimes the belt shows no signs of unusual wear at all. Maybe it's just time for a little belt dressing.
So, here's three belt dressing ideas (in order of effectiveness) that you may not have considered. Hint: In our tests, tip number one wins hands down!
1. Dielectric tune-up grease. This is the clear silicone grease that's commonly used to protect electrical connections from moisture intrusion. We find that it's great at getting rid of belt squeaks too! Just a little dab across the ribbed side of the belt should do the trick. The results are quite amazing. The stuff works so well that if a small amount wiped across the ribs of the belt don't solve the noise within five to ten seconds, then it's probably something belt dressing, in any amount, will not fix. See my usage notes below.
2. Bar of Ivory soap. I suppose any soap in bar form would work as a belt dressing. This tip goes back to the V-belt days. The drawback is it washes off with water. It's effective as a at short term dressing.
3. Valve grinding compound. Hey, if it doesn't help the belt you can always use this stuff on screwdriver tips to help grip screws with wore out heads.
No matter which you decide on, before using any type of belt dressing check for other possible causes first. That squeak may be alerting you to a bigger problem. Is the belt in good condition? Look for splits, tears, and missing sections on both sides of the belt. It's typical for small cracks to form along the ribs of a serpentine belt. Serpentine belts last much longer than their V-belt cousins. Most make it to 70,000 miles and we've seen some original belts with over 100,000 miles. On the other end of the spectrum we've seen cracks form along rib surfaces in as little as 20,000 miles, but that does not necessarily mean the belt is bad. Most people use the following rule for serpentine belts: More than three cracks per inch of belt and it's time to consider replacement.
Other things to inspect:
- Belt contamination - coolant, water, oils, etc..
- Pulley alignment
- Belt tension
Notes about using dielectric grease:
I have always worried that using dielectric grease on the smooth side of a belt could cause slipping, or worse, cause the belt to jump off. I was able to do a real world test with the aid of several large puddles, and in the end, I was able to get a belt to jump off by adding substantial amounts of dielectric grease to the smooth side of a belt. So, use sparingly on the ribbed side only.
Do not attempt to apply belt dressing on a belt with the engine running. Always turn engine off and disable the ignition/starter before reaching into the engine compartment.
Always wear eye protection.