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How To Replace A Serpentine Belt In A VW Beetle

Does your Volkswagen Beetle squeal when you start it up? How about when accelerating from a stop light? Or maybe you’ve lost your serpentine belt altogether and your Beetle's engine is no longer running.

Luckily for you, replacing the serpentine belt takes only about an hour of work if you’re reasonably handy with some basic tools.

What Is A Serpentine Belt?

Image Credit: AutoRepairGuys

A serpentine belt is a rubber belt that replaces multiple belts that were typically used on older cars. It powers the alternator, air conditioning, power steering, water pump, and other parts. It’s vital to the function of your car. It's a good idea to replace it at the first sign of failure. By doing so, you'll avoid a roadside repair or expensive tow truck bill.

There are multiple reasons the belt can fail, including:

  • Stretching from age and mileage
  • Dry rot from weather extremes compounded by age
  • Fluid leaks causing slippage or excessive wear
  • Potential issues with tensioners or pulleys (common on vehicles with higher miles)

Typically an OEM serpentine belt can last between 60,000 and 100,000 miles before needing replacement.

Project Basics

  • Skill level: Intermediate
  • Time to complete: About 60 minutes, depending on expertise
  • Tools:
    • Adjustable wrench
    • Flashlight
    • Optional: a serpentine belt removal tool (a long handled ratchet or a piece of pipe to extend the ratchet will work)

Ordering The Right Part

The Volkswagen Beetle has a long history in Volkswagen’s lineup with eight generations starting in 1938. If you know the year of your car, the next step in ordering the right serpentine belt is to look up your Beetle in our catalog of genuine OEM VW serpentine belts. This serpentine belt for 1998-2006 Beetles is one of our best sellers. If you need help finding the right serpentine belt for your Beetle's motor, please get in touch with us. We're always happy to help.

Important Steps To Take Before Replacing The Serpentine Belt

Replace vw serpentine belt

Image Credit: AutoRepairGuys

If your old belt is still intact, take careful note of how it wraps and routes around the various pulleys. It is crucial that you route the new belt precisely the same way. If it's routed differently, your engine will fail to run and it could cause damage to the accessories powered by the belt.

Pro tip: take pictures of the entire assembly before you start. Shoot from multiple angles so if you get stuck or confused later, you'll have a quick and easy reference.

If your old belt has broken and is no longer present, find a serpentine belt diagram for your particular Beetle. It's important to know how to route the serpentine belt before installing it.

Replacing The Serpentine Belt

Image Credit: AutoRepairGuys

To replace the serpentine belt in your Beetle, take the following steps:

  1. Open the hood and then find the serpentine belt on the side of the motor.
  2. Loosen the serpentine belt tensioner with the adjustable wrench.
  3. Pull the serpentine belt off the pulleys. Keep the tensioner loose while doing so.
  4. When the serpentine belt is off, release the tension on the tensioner.
  5. Check the tensioner and idler to make sure they spin smoothly and don't wobble. If they have gone bad, you should replace them ASAP. If they are not replaced, they will shorten the life of your new serpentine belt. Both are easy to replace.
  6. Route the new serpentine belt through the pulleys. Be sure to keep the ribbed side on the inside of the loop and the smooth side on the outside of the loop. The ribbed side must come in contact with the pulleys.
  7. Before wrapping the serpentine belt around the last pulley (the alternator pulley is the easiest one to do last), loosen the tensioner. When the belt is wrapped around the last pulley, release the tension.
  8. Make sure that there’s enough play in the serpentine belt. If there’s too much play or too little play, adjust the tensioner if you can.
  9. Start the engine to ensure there is no more squealing noise and that everything is in working order.

Got any questions about replacing your serpentine belt? Please contact us.