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Jennifer’s Tip: Carry an Extra Serpentine Belt

| Updated Dec 13, 2016

My tip this week is about being prepared for emergency repairs while on the road. I share it because of an experience we had earlier this year. We were in hot and humid Florida and navigating stop and go heavy traffic around Destin, which was getting very crowded with vacationers flocking to the area’s beaches for a holiday weekend.

Anyway, while stuck in traffic, an emergency warning light appeared telling us to pull over and shut down the engine because the coolant was overheating. We did so and Mike popped the hood to check on the antifreeze.

The level was just fine and as he was scratching his head, he looked around and found that the serpentine belt had shredded and fallen off the pulleys it winds around. The serpentine belt is a single continuous belt used to drive multiple devices in our Roadtrek, such as an alternator, the air conditioning compressor and the engine generator.

Now that’s not a life and death issue. After the engine cooled down, we drove to our campground. But we obviously needed to put a new belt on.

Jennifer's Tip: Carry an Extra Serpentine Belt 1Here’s where the being prepared part comes in. We had a replacement belt with us. I was so proud of Mike that he had one, because trying to find the right one that would fit our Roadtrek would have been very challenging on a holiday weekend.

A friend came by the campground and installed the new one in just a few minutes, showing Mike how to do it.

Our Roadtrek at the time had about 50,000 miles on it we had driven it long and hard the week before. So it was time to replace the belt. Doubtless our auto mechanic would have done so at our next service visit.

But our belt gave up the ghost before he could get to it. Having that replacement belt with saved us a lot of time.

So my tip is find out what size and type of serpentine belt your RV has. Almost all have such a belt and you’ll find the size typically in the manual that came with your vehicle. Most auto supply stores carry the belts, but you'll need it's parts number. Or ask your mechanic to get you one and carry it with you as a spare.

Same with fuses, by the way. Today’s RVs have lots of fuses of all kinds. Stop by an auto supply store and get a bunch of them. Anyone can change a fuse – even Mike.

Be prepared! It’s just a smart thing to do!

The model we have for our V-6 Sprinter Roadtrek is from NAPA and a Micro-V, model number NBH 25060523HD. The HD is for Heavy Duty as it considered a truck version and is colored  green, not black like most automotive belts. It costs $33. You can order at most any auto parts store and it's aways good to have a spare.

Here's a link from our friend Campskunk about replacing the serpentine belt in a Chevy chasis.


Jennifer Wendland

Published on 2016-12-13

Jennifer Wendland travels North America with husband, Mike, in a small Motorhome. She has worked with Mike as a television producer and traveled extensively all over the world. She is a self-described "gym rat," enjoying fitness and exercise wherever she goes. She is a certified Water Aerobics instructor and has taught large group classes in leading health clubs for more than 20 years. She and Mike have three grown children and seven grandchildren. They travel about two weeks out of every month. When not on the road, they live in southeastern Michigan.

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