A nonlinear model is developed which describes the rotational response of automotive serpentine belt drive systems. Serpentine drives utilize a single (long) belt to drive all engine accessories from the crankshaft. An equilibrium analysis leads to a closed-form procedure for determining steady-state tensions in each belt span. The equations of motion are linearized about the equilibrium state and rotational mode vibration characteristics are determined from the eigenvalue problem governing free response. Numerical solutions of the nonlinear equations of motion indicate that, under certain engine operating conditions, the dynamic tension fluctuations may be sufficient to cause the belt to slip on particular accessory pulleys. Experimental measurements of dynamic response are in good agreement with theoretical results and confirm theoretical predictions of system vibration, tension fluctuations, and slip.

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