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I'm asking about someone else's vehicle, so I don't know the normal details. It's a mini van. Probably 8 to 10 years old. It might be an Aerostar.

An alternator was installed by a guy in a parking lot. (Kind of an emergency thing)

Now the power steering system has failed & the price to fix it is > $1000.

The mechanic said the reason the power steering failed is because the belt wasn't tight enough after the alternator replacement.

Is this likely, or possible?

  • More info would be useful. What is the mechanic planning on replacing? Just the serpentine belt? – anonymous2 Oct 11 '16 at 15:29
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    Can you tell what is wrong with the power steering system exactly? Model/Year of the vehicle? I imagine it would be unlikely for a loose belt to break power steering system, as that would mean that you could easily break it by using steering when the engine is off also. – Evren Yurtesen Oct 11 '16 at 15:33
  • Most vehicles in the past two decades use serpentine belts with automatic tensioners. This applies a certain amount of pressure on all of the pulleys which includes the power steering. There is basically no way to screw this up, and therefore no way to screw up the power steering system. If it was an Aerostar, it would be using this type of system on it. – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Oct 11 '16 at 15:43
  • My father in law said "Remember when we had that alternator installed? One of the belts didn't get tight and the the whole power steering system has blown out!!!!" Yes, that's 4 exclamation points. :/ – TecBrat Oct 11 '16 at 16:30
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    @TecBrat Unlikely. Seems that the issue is bieng blamed one some unrelated. $1000 should include the rack & pinion and maybe the pump. I would take it to another mechanic for a second opinion. – race fever Oct 12 '16 at 14:04
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It is highly unlikely that a loose serpentine belt would destroy your power steering system. It is possible that the power steering would stop working, make odd noises, or steer jerkily because of a slipping belt, but in that event, replacing the belt should fix the problem.

It is possible that the power-steering was having issues incidental to the alternator belt tension, but to determine whether the serpentine belt is at fault, we would have to know what exactly the mechanic is planning on doing to the system and what he perceives to be the specific issue.

A simple serpentine belt replacement ranges from $60-$200, though it could be somewhat more in unusual situations.

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