Car Pulley – Explanation, Problems and Solutions

In car engines and other parts of the car, we use different kinds of mechanical applications. One of these applications is the car pulley system. There are different kinds of pulleys available in car engines. Here you can find detailed information about car pulley applications in general.

What is Car Pulley?

Car Pulley
Source: Adobe Stock.

Car pulley or engine pulley systems are the systems where the serpentine belt and timing belt are attached. These belts take the movement from the crankshaft rotation and transmit it to the other engine accessories and the camshaft. Every system has a specific pulley system.

In general, they are attached to a shaft that is attached to the accessory or crankshaft. And they are generally attached to these shafts with a belt of bearings. And they provide the rotation to work properly.

Types of Car Pulley Applications

There are different kinds of car pulley systems available in a specific internal combustion engine. They are generally very easy to use.

  • Crankshaft pulley: This is the most common and the main pulley that provides the rotational power to the timing and serpentine belt. As you understand from its name that they are attached to the crankshaft to take the rotation from it.
  • Idler pulley: Idler pulleys or belt tensioners are not attached to any kind of part. Their prime duty is to hold the belt in a specific amount of tension. There is a spring or hydraulic mechanism that holds the belt in place.
  • Alternator pulley: A pulley that runs the alternator system of the car. It rotates the alternator to generate power to charge the battery.
  • Water pump pulley: This one is another car pulley to the serpentine belt attached. The water pump is responsible for the circulation of the cooling water through the engine system.
  • Power steering pump pulley: This one is another car pulley that is responsible for the working of the power steering pump that increases the pressure of the hydraulic oil in the power steering. The hydraulic power helps the steering system much more easily for the user.
  • Air conditioning compressor pulley: You know that we need a compressor to circulate the refrigerant through the system. And there is a pulley that takes power from the serpentine belt to rotate the compressor.
  • Camshaft pulley: The camshaft pulley is attached to the timing belt that provides motion from the crankshaft. So the operations of valves in the engine take place.

So as you see above, there are different kinds of pulley mechanisms are available in car engines.

Signs of Bad Car Pulley

We can explain some common signs of a bad pulley system that your car has. In general, the car pulleys are designed to last with the lifespan of your car engine. And you will not have problems with these systems. But if you have a problem with one of your pulleys, these are the general signs that you can see;

  • Noises: The noises coming from your pulley systems are a symptom of the pulley that requires maintenance and lubrication. And also, wear can be the reason for the noises coming from the car pulleys.
  • Battery light on: If the battery light is on, this means you have a problem with the alternator pulley of your car. Because the alternator is not working well to charge and provide electricity to the battery.
  • AC not working well: Also if there is a problem with your air conditioning system, you may have a problem with the AC compressor pulley.
  • Hard steering: Another problem may arise because of the problem with the power steering pump pulley. The power steering pump will not work properly and you will notice that the steering wheel is very hard.
  • Overheating in the engine: Also if the pulley of the water pump does not work properly, the engine overheating will take place because of the poor circulation of the cooling fluid around the engine.
  • Excessive wear on belts: Also the problematic pulleys can cause excessive wear and tear on the serpentine and timing belts.

So, as you understand above, there can be different causes of the related systems.

Possible Causes

There are different possible causes of the problems that we have with the car pulley systems.

  • Damages and hazards: The damages and hazards that come from the bottom of the vehicles can cause faulty pulleys.
  • Lack of maintenance: You need to maintain the pulley systems. You need to apply the required amount of lubrication to prevent premature wear and tears in the systems.
  • Overlooking the symptoms: If you have the symptoms that we explained above, you should not overlook them. Bring your car to a mechanic that will deal with the possible cause of the problem.
  • Misaligned pulleys: Also all the car pulleys that we explained above must be in a specific alignment. If there is a misalignment in these systems, you will have problems in general.

Can You Drive with a Damaged Pulley?

Probably yes. You will not cultivate the best performance from your engine. And also, this can cause much worse problems in your engine. So, it is not recommended to drive with damaged pulleys. Just bring your car to a mechanic or service, and prevent the bigger problems in your engine can happen.

Can a Pulley be Repaired?

It depends on the problem that the pulley system has. Cleaning the filth and debris can solve the problem. But we need to change the heavily corroded pulley system. Also if the wears and tears are at a very bad level, replacement of the pulley can be required.


These are the general things that we can state about car pulley applications. If you have additional comments and questions about these parts, please leave them below.

Also, you can check the related topics about the car parts;

Water Pump Gasket Guide

Do Diesel Engines Have Spark Plugs? Simple and Quick Answer

How Many Spark Plugs in a V8? Simple and Quick Answer

How to Trick a Mass Air Flow Sensor? Should You Do It?  

Bad Oxygen Sensor Symptoms  – Fixes and Prices

Uğur Uygun

Hello everyone, I am Uğur. I am a mechanical engineer who has experience in different R&D departments of HVAC companies. With my best friend, I decided to build this website to share out knowledge and experience. And also, I am interested in automotive. So, I am writing about automotive and automotive-related articles here. Sharing my knowledge and experiences on these topics is a very big pleasure for me. I am willing to answer all of the questions people have about these topics.

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