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Serpentine belt and coolant

My husband was driving home tonight and, just after making a turn, he lost his power steering. The engine started smoking and he pulled over. I had been following him so I got another angle on it. I heard a clatter and saw something fall to the ground. When I turned around all I found was what appeared to be a road reflector, complete with a chunk of asphalt still attached, and the truck’s serpentine belt. When I arrived at the parking lot, antifreeze was dripping onto the ground. Then it began to pour, and then it gushed.

We have to decide in the morning if this is something we will be able to repair ourselves or if it requires more experience and equipment. Any thoughts on this?

You haven’t given enough details on the damage for anyone to be helpful. Where is the antifreeze coming from?

And, I think that answers the question of “is this something that the OP can repair?”

Do You Think He Ran Over The Reflector / Asphalt Chunk And That Caused The Damage ?

It’s not clear to me, but I guess it’s not clear to you, either.

A repair technician should be able to determine what caused the belt and coolant to jump ship. This car needs to be towed, of course, to avoid additional damage.

Should this turn into something expensive, you might want to consider looking at your insurance coverage and calling your agent (or e-gent).


The problem might have been caused from a failed water pump.

If the bearing in the water pump fails it can toss the serpentine belt off. Then the coolant comes pouring out the failed water pump.


That’s the first thing I was thinking.

You have to LOOK at the radiator and engine before you can decide it you can do this. If the radiator is damaged, can you change that? If the bottom radiator hose is busted, can you replace that? How could any one of us decide if you could do any of these things?

If he hit something on the road that cut through the belt and rad hose, it could be an insurance issue.

In any case don’t attempt to fix this yourself, as others point out, the entire cooling system needs to be checked out, including the water pump. What you saw as smoke is probably steam resulting from the cooling system spraying on the hot exhaust.

So in the light of day (and after the fumes from the antifreeze cleared) we got enough information for an update. The reflector/asphalt did in fact do some damage. The water pump was shattered, and a pully and the timing chain cover damaged.

Are you sure that the water pump didn’t fail as you were driving and that the reflector just happened to be laying on the road where it happened? I’ll bet that your insurance company will propose that to get out of paying for the repairs.

My father in law had just looked it over earlier that day and at that time there was nothing wrong with the water pump or the timing chain.

Okay, either it’s “shattered” as you said at 10:38, or there’s nothing wrong as you said at 4:28. It can’t be both. Which is it?

Earlier that day, when it was checked out, there WAS nothing wrong (about 1:00 pm) I’m sorry, I wasn’t clear there on the time frame. It wasn’t something that was likely to have been there before, not to that extent. And it certainly looks as if it were struck with something. I am not sure how it will go over with the insurance, but mine has not given us trouble in the past.

Was the serpentine belt still intact? If the belt broke before it came off, it is likely that the engine has just overheated; boiled over; and dumped its coolant out through the reservoir. If the belt is intact, then Tester’s idea that the water pump caused the belt to shed and the engine boiled over while making it to the parking lot.

Let us know the outcome of this adventure. Feedback is always helpful.

Well, it sounds like you are in pretty good shape to get them to pay.