What Does a Bad Fan Belt Sound Like?

A bad fan belt is easily noticed and sounds like squealing and flapping. You might also notice ticking sounds from underneath the hood of your car while you are driving.

The fan belt will impact the power steering of your vehicle and will need immediate repair.

A bad fan belt will make sounds of squealing and flapping. The flapping noise is coming from your fan belt knocking against other things under the hood after it has snapped.

It will be difficult to drive or use power steering without the fan belt, so you will need to get it repaired or do it yourself as soon as possible.

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What noise will a broken fan belt make?

broken fan belt

A broken fan belt will make a squealing noise, and also a flapping noise on occasion. You might also hear a ticking sound from underneath the hood.

The noises are likely going to start as soon as you start your vehicle.

The squealing noise that happens when the fan belt is broken may also sound like a loud scratching noise.

This is your fan belt trying to work. The flapping noise occurs when your fan belt wants to work, but is broken or frayed, or snapped, and is flapping against other parts underneath the hood.

A ticking noise may also occur when your fan belt is in bad shape. Again this is caused by the fan belt knocking against other things under the hood.

Pieces of the fan belt may be hitting other things, and you will notice the ticking when you are driving and trying to accelerate with the car.

How do I know the fan belt needs to be replaced?

Sounds from the fan belt and the way the vehicle is driving will be indicators that the fan belt needs to be replaced.

The sounds may be your first clue, but if you have power steering, then the way the vehicle is driving will also be a sign.

starting car

The car could also have problems starting.

The screeching that you might hear from the fan belt could also be a squealing noise, and this might occur more when you are driving up hills.

You may also notice that your headlights are flickering or dimming, particularly when you are using the air conditioning or the heater in your car, and it may look like the car is overheating.

If you are inspecting the fan belt at this point, you should see some fraying and some cracking of the fan belt.

Other signs that the fan belt is having a problem are that it will not start. This indicates the power steering is impacted.

You may also be missing some strips of the fan belt completely.

Do vehicles need fan belts?

A vehicle needs a fan belt, and this is also known as the accessories drive belt. The fan belt works with a pulley and gear system and takes energy and pressure from the crankshaft to power multiple functions under the hood.

The fan belt helps power the alternator, which makes sure that your battery is charged and has power.

fan belt

The fan belt will also activate your power steering so that you can steer the vehicle easier. It can also help to turn on the water pump in order to ensure the engine stays cool.

Without the fan belt, there are many critical functions of the car that would not function.

In addition to impacting the power steering, your car would overheat or have a hard time cooling down in summer.

You could also see some battery issues.

How will a car with a bad fan belt drive?

It will be difficult to drive a car with a bad fan belt, and you won’t have a hard time noticing that.

The steering may be the first thing that you notice, and it will seem like you are fighting with the steering wheel when you are driving.

This is not a sign that the fan belt has gone, but that it is losing its grip.

When steering feels difficult, you may also lose the water pump if the fan belt is on the way out.

This is also an accessory under the hood that works to help with power steering. Cooling and heating in the car will also be very difficult as the load on your battery is going to be heavier.


The engine could very easily overheat as well. The alternator is going to struggle with a bad fan belt, and the lights and headlights of the car will appear dimmer or begin to flicker.

Starting the car itself could be a challenge, and the battery could go entirely.

Can a car drive for a long time without a fan belt?

A car cannot drive for very long without a fan belt, and it won’t let you. Once the power steering goes out, the fight you have to steer the vehicle isn’t going to last very long.

If the fan belt is simply frayed and a little cracked, you may be able to get some driving in for a week or so.

If you are able to start the car and drive the vehicle with a bad fan belt, you may see some stalling.

This could be your battery or your alternator sending you a clue that a key part is malfunctioning.

You are also going to see some obvious steering and overheating problems.

Driving without a fan belt – or a broken fan belt – is not safe, and overheating is the smallest problem you will have here.

If you can start the car and drive a little bit, you increase your risk of collision. Your power steering will go, and even the best of drivers will have a difficult, if not impossible, time staying safe or veering away in the event of a problem on the road.


Does a fan belt need a mechanic, or can I do it on my own?

A fan belt usually needs a mechanic, but if you are good with cars, you can do it on your own too.

If you haven’t replaced the fan belt in a while, you should check the fan belt every month or so to see if there are any signs of wear and tear.

For a mechanic to replace the fan belt, the cost will be about $200 or $300. If you fix it yourself, then you’ll only pay for parts, about $100.

You may also need tools to do it, and that will include a square peg wrench and a socket wrench.

Many mechanics would say to a would-be-mechanic that a fan belt replacement is an easy project to start on.

It can be a simple plug-and-play replacement, depending on the model.

A fan belt should not need to be replaced more than every five years or so. If your vehicle was made before 2018, the fan belt replacement is a simple setup.

These cars have V-belts or serpentine belts that can be changed out and replaced very quickly.

How do I decide if I can replace a fan belt on my own?

replace a fan belt

If you are interested in replacing your own fan belt, do your research ahead of time. It can be done in a day if you are mechanically inclined or don’t need your car very soon.

Watch videos, talk to honest mechanics that genuinely want to help you learn, and price out the cost of your parts and tools.

If that seems like too much work, then it will cost you less in time and resources to just get it replaced.

If you are spending days researching and looking into it, then you may just want to get estimates from different mechanics on what a fan belt replacement will cost.