Belts and Hoses

12.18.12

Think about this: Most vehicle belts fail without warning. Now think about yourself stranded on the side of the road. Not a pretty picture, is it?

Belts and hoses are integral parts in the proper functioning of the engine. But it’s not easy to know the true condition of a belt or hose by its outward appearance, because most belts and hoses fail from the inside out. Because of that, owners are urged to replace belts, radiator and heater hoses at specific recommended intervals to prevent your car from breaking down.

Most newer vehicles use a single serpentine belt to turn the water pump, alternator, power steering and air-conditioning compressor. If a belt snaps, everything is lost and you may be stranded. Many older vehicles use individual V-belts for each device. Belts also break down with heat, mileage and age. Every time a belt passes around a pulley, it bends. Flexing produces heat that causes the rubber to harden over time. In addition, if the belt is loose or slips, the wear process can be accelerated.

Over time, rubber hoses can become hard and brittle, deteriorating with age and exposure to heat, causing the hose to split, blister or leak. A split or blown hose could result in an overheated engine and can cause additional engine damage.

Typical Service for Belts and Hoses:

Hoses should be checked at each oil change for age hardening (or softening) by pinching. Any hose that feels rock hard or mushy is due for replacement. Leaking, visible cracks, blistering or any other visible damage on the outside of the hose would also indicate a need for replacement.

  • The clamps should be replaced when new hoses are installed.
  • V-belts should be replaced every three to four years or 40,000 to 50,000 miles.
  • V-belts and serpentine belts should be checked for looseness.
  • Replace the timing belt between 60,000 and 90,000 miles or based on the interval specified in the owner’s manual.

Nearly one-third of all cars and light trucks have belts or hoses that should probably be replaced. Don’t be one of them. Proper maintenance of your vehicle’s belts and hoses is an easy way to protect your car’s reliability, keep you on the road and prevent more costly repairs down the line.

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