2004 Malibu serpentine belt


Our 2004 Malibu has about 60K Miles and the local dealer thought that the serpentine belt needed to be inspected. Dealer now says belt needs replacement but to replace the belt, one of the motor mounts needs to be removed in order to replace the belt. Question: What is the service life of serpentine belt and is the degree of difficulty accurate?


Your owner’s manual may have a recommendation for replacement of the serpentine belt.

Dealers make lots money doing unnecessary things like replacing your serpentine belt. Whether or not you choose to contribute to their profit is up to you.

It’s hard to believe your belt needs replacement after only three years and 60K miles.

It is, however, you car and your money. Do what you think is best.


MC may be thinking of a timing belt that are replaced along the 90K plus miles. A serpentine belt though is good for more like 30-40K. I replace mine about every 30,000. You can check it by looking for small cracks across the inside surface. If there are cracks, it needs to be replaced. On some cars it is more difficult than others and the mount may well be in the way. I’ve got two that it is a 5 minute job but one that is about an hour to do.


Agree, serpentine belts are exposed to all manner of contamination and abrasive material, as well as heat. My mother-in-law had hers replaced on a Chevy Cavalier at only 20,000 miles, and believe me it was necessary. If you live in a mild climate, only drive on highways, and park inside, the belt will no doubt last longer. For interest, a major oil service company in the Middle East replaces ALL belts every 2 year regardless of mileage, due to extreme heat and the abrasive sand. When your life depends on the condition of your vehicle, it is cheap insurance.


Two years if you are careful about not wanting it to ever break. Longer if it is on perfect pulleys. Most people wait longer to change them.


Personally I think most serpentine belts have a much longer life than some suggest. I would go by the owner’s manual if it list a time/miles interval for replacement.

Part of the calculation is how tolerant are you of being stuck somewhere some night if it breaks. It is not likely to cause any serious engine damage, but those long walks home in the snow can be very uncomfortable.

BTW you don’t need a dealer for this job, or any other for that matter. Most often an independent mechanic will do the job for far less and will do as good of a job.


A serpentine belt that has cracks across its ribs is normal, and is not an indication that belt should be replaced. However, if chunks of these ribs are missing, that’s an indication that the belt should be replaced.

You really can’t tell the condition of a serpentine belt just by a visual inspection. Unless you have X-ray vision? It’s the cords within the belt that fitigue over time which results in the belt failing. And because of this, that’s why they should be replaced @ 30,000-40,000 miles.



For our 03 Malibu, it was no big deal to disconnect the motor mount on the passenger side in order to lift the engine a little to provide clearance to slip the old belt out and the new in. For a reasonably skilled mechainc, I estimate that this should be a 1 hour job including coffee breaks. For a trainee mechanic, two hours. This is a job for a trainee, leaving the older mechanics to do the more difficult things.