Your car's engine provides power to more than all four wheels. There are also several mechanical accessories that feed off the engine; these include everything from the air conditioning compressor to the power steering pump. Those parts are provided with power via the drive belt, which is itself driven by a pulley attached to the engine crankshaft.

If the drive belt goes entirely, you won't be able to properly run your car. However, you're likely to notice one or more of the following four warning signs before that happens.

1. Dimming Lights

One of the mechanical accessories driven by your car's drive belt is the alternator. As the belt starts to wear and lose its grip, it may start struggling to turn the alternator as it should. As a result, the lights inside your car and the vehicle's headlights may start going dim for a few seconds, especially during cold starts or when you need to place greater than usual strain on the battery.

2. Screeching or Squealing

Probably the most common sign of drive belt problems is a pronounced screeching or squealing noise when the engine is running. Luckily, this is a tough symptom to ignore. Of course, there are reasons beyond belt wear that this could be happening. For example, such noises can occur when water or oil gets on the belt. However, you should still visit a mechanic. If screeching or squealing sounds are down to belt wear, it needs to be replaced. If there's water or oil on the belt, a leak may need to be addressed.  

3. Unresponsive Steering

Because your drive belt is connected to your car's power steering mechanisms, any problems with the belt can result in unresponsive steering. As the belt slips, you may find it more challenging than it used to be to keep the vehicle heading in the right direction. If you notice any such signs, don't ignore them. Belt wear will only get worse, so you could lose more control next time and face serious results.

4. High Temperatures

When your fan belt breaks down, it won't turn the water pump consistently. The pump is a vital part of your onboard cooling systems. At first, you might just notice internal temperatures rising slightly. If you don't address the problem, the engine can start regularly overheating. Keep an eye on your temperature gauge to make sure things never get that bad.

Reach out to a mechanic for more direction.