During the summer, most people leave the air conditioning turned to "on" when they leave their car. While this may be convenient, as the air conditioning immediately kicks in when you turn your car on again, it wears your vehicle's serpentine belt -- which could lead to an expensive car repair. This summer, protect your vehicle's serpentine belt and transmission by turning off the air conditioning before you turn off your car.
The Air Conditioner Makes the Serpentine Belt Run
When the air conditioner in your car is engaged, it makes the serpentine belt run. The belt connects the air conditioner to the engine and transmission. It also connects other peripheral but important components, such as your vehicle's water pump, alternator and power steering pump.
During normal driving, it's fine to run the air conditioner because your car's serpentine belt is meant to go around. It needs to rotate to power these components when you're driving. After all, your car won't work without an alternator, and it'll be difficult to drive if the power steering pump fails.
When your car is first warming up, the serpentine belt doesn't need to run. The peripheral components it powers aren't needed right away, so the belt doesn't have to spin.
If the air conditioner turns on when your car is started up, though, the serpentine belt will need to immediately begin spinning. If it doesn't, the air conditioner won't work. This additional running is unnecessary and causes wear on the belt. Over time, a few extra minutes of spinning each day will shorten the life span of the belt, and it could break.
A Broken Serpentine Belt Could Ruin the Transmission
Just fixing a serpentine belt is inconvenient and costs money, but it can also lead to a much more serious repair. If your car's serpentine belt breaks, the transmission could be damaged.
Almost as soon as your car's serpentine belt breaks, the engine will begin to overheat. Without the belt running, the water pump won't be able to adequately cool your engine.
When the engine overheats, your transmission may be damaged. All engine components, including transmissions, are designed to run well in a certain temperature range. Outside of that range, when your engine temperature gauge goes into the red zone, they can be damaged.
Protect Your Car's Transmission
Even transmission minor damage from overheating. Basic repairs can cost between $500 and $1,500, and rebuilding one can run between $1,500 and $2,500.
This summer, protect your car's transmission by extending the life of its serpentine belt. All that you need to do is turn the air conditioning off when you turn off your car. You can turn the AC back on once your vehicle's warmed up the next time you drive and avoid a transmission repair.