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Serpentine belt on 2001 Hyundai Sonata

I recently bought a 2001 Hyundai Sonata, and one of the things I wanted fixed was the serpentine belt: it had a noticeable squeal. I took it into a shop and they replaced the tensioner pulley, but the squeal was still there. I mentioned it before driving off, but they were busy and I couldn’t leave it with them, so I was going to bring it back in a few days.

That was two or three days ago. This afternoon I had the A/C cranked up, and the engine was at about 3000 RPM (I was using it as a brake, coming down some steep hills), when I heard an awful clattering coming from under the hood. I pulled over and found that the serpentine belt had shredded itself. It looks like about 1/3 of it is left, and I assume that part won’t last long. So, three questions.

First, what are the odds the shop messed up somehow when they set the tension? In other words, is it their fault the belt broke, or just coincidence (it was on its way out anyway)? And secondly, from some searching I did it looks like the alternator, A/C, and power steering run off this belt. I’d like to get this car back up to the same shop I had it in before, but that’s about 8 miles away (in city traffic), and I’m not sure how much longer the belt will last. I can do without A/C just fine, and without the alternator running I’d be fine over that distance too. But no power steering could be really awkward, especially if it goes out suddenly. Finally, with the bits of belt whipping around under the hood, do I need to worry about them damaging other things?

So, what would you recommend I do? Try to get back to that shop? And was this a mess-up on their part, or likely just a really worn belt to start with? (For what it’s worth, the guy I bought the car from said he’d changed this plus the timing belt just a few thousand miles ago…though I don’t know how much I trust him.)

I recommend you getting a tow, actually. The belt may, or may not, make it. Since there’s really no way to tell, you can try, if you’re so inclined. Since I can’t see it, I’ll guess that it’s likely the bits flinging around will cause some damage to other components, if it goes on long enough. Anything really sensitive would already have been damaged.

It’s possible they did something, but not likely. The tensioners are self adjusting, so unless they bypassed the “self” part, then it’s just a failed belt.


Just a follow-up: it turns out this car doesn’t have a single serpentine belt, but rather several accessory drive belts. The one that failed was the one that drives the AC compressor and power steering. It’s very easy to access, and I replaced the belt myself. I wasn’t quite as sure about getting the tension right (the tensioner isn’t one of the automatic types, alas), but the shop said they’d check the tension for free for me, so I took it in after I installed the belt, and all seems to be well now.