Town Car Serpentine Belt

Nowhere in Lincoln’s maintenance schedule does it call for replacing the serpentine belt, only checking belts and hoses periodically.

My 2003 Town Car has 92,000 miles and I have been checking the belt but dont see any cracks. Is there any rationale for preventatively replacing the belt?


A belt is not a maintenance item with a fixed replacement interval, that’s why regular inspection is advised. In a cool climate like coastal Washington, such a belt can last a very long time. In Death Valley or Alaska it would be much shorter.

Having said that, I would replace the belt proactively, since at 92,000 miles there is not a great deal of life left. Most go before that. Fleet owners do this since they know from experience when belts start breaking, and they don’t want to lose productive time trying to get an additional 10% life out of a belt.

I would guess you are living on borrowed time. I would replace one at 50k or 5 y, whichever comes first. Cracks wise, you are supposed to open it up, IE bend it backwards and look for cracks in the face. Some are OK. No cracks allowed in the backing. Me, I sure would change it.

At around 100,000 miles, the serpentine belt on my '88 Century was showing cracks and was at the point in which it needed to be replaced. I went out and bought a new one, but out of my own perverse curiousity, I decided to see how long it would actually last before it broke. I put the new belt in my trunk and made sure I always had the 3/8 ratchet that you need to change it. I junked the car at about 225,000 miles and the darn thing never broke!

Still, if you don’t feel like changing it by the side of the road, change it now.

The replacement of the radiator hoses today, could prevent sitting on the side of the road, admiring nature, at an inopportune time.
Contrariwise, you could wait until everything failed, one by one…especially if you like your life to be especially interesting. Remember the Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times!”.

My recommendation is every two years. There are a lot of expensive things under that hood. The fan belt is merely overpriced.

Go ahead and replace it, even though technically you’re not supposed to till it shows wear. This is the exception to the general rule that the only items you replace before they fail are the ones listed in the maintainence scedule. I always have my old belts in the car in case one goes. Once near Hazleton, Pa, in my '71 Chevy pickup my alternator belt broke so I pulled into an abandoned strip mine and put on the old one.

There was a dragline shovel nearby (like a crane), whose bucket was so big I could’ve put 5 or 6 of my pickups in it. I was going to tressspass and check it out but the United Mine Workers were on strike and they might’ve thought I was a scab. Off the track, sorry.

I have found on several cars that I’ve worked on there are two marks on the stationary part of your atomatic belt tensioner and one mark on the part that moves that keeps the belt tight. If the one mark is at the end or closest to the end mark then it’s time to replace your belt because it has streched. I would replace it even if there are no cracks but the belt is streched.

When you replace it turn the pulleys by hand and see if the bearings are good. Replace anything that does not feel smooth.

changing the serpentine belt is a lot like changing your socks… you MAY not really need to change your socks, but your life will be a whole lot better if you DO change them.

the only difference is that if you DON’T change your socks you don’t get stranded on the side of the road like an old serpentine belt will do to you!

Ya, that too. He’s right about that.