If the vehicle is an older model that has an actual radiator fan belt, it might need to be replaced as often as every 40,000 to 50,000 miles. In most newer vehicles, however, the serpentine belt has replaced the radiator fan belt. A serpentine belt can last anywhere from 60,000 up to 150,000 miles.
A radiator fan belt turns the radiator fan in a vehicle at speeds high enough to draw outside air into the radiator. Most vehicles that are from 8 to 10 years old, or even older, have one belt specifically for the radiator fan. Quite often this belt is of lesser quality than those used in current models. Therefore, it is necessary to have the belt replaced more often than a serpentine belt which is used in newer vehicles.
While a radiator fan belt only services that one part of a car's engine, the serpentine belt provides power to a number of different engine components including air conditioning, water pump, alternator and power steering pump.
There are some signals a car owner should be aware of that might indicate it is time to replace the belt. One of the first signs is a squealing sound coming from underneath the hood when the car is started. Visual inspection might show signs of fraying or cracking. If either of these conditions are noticed, it might be time to replace the belt.