Losing a belt today can mean big trouble for the engine because serpentine belts are used on most engines to turn the water pump, alternator, power steering and air-conditioning compressor.
If a belt snaps, everything is lost and you may be stranded. Older cars use individual V-belts for these various accessories. A blown hose could result in an overheated engine and can cause additional engine damage.
“It’s not easy to know the true condition of a belt hose by its outward appearance, because most belts and hoses fail from the inside out,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “The Car Care Council urges replacing belts, radiator and heater hoses at specific recommended intervals to prevent your car from breaking down.”
Rubber hoses can become hard and brittle, deteriorating with age and exposure to heat, causing the hose to split, blister or leak. 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.
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.
According to a recent survey, nearly one-third of all cars and light trucks have belts or hoses that should probably be replaced. Proper maintenance of your vehicle’s belts and hoses is an easy way to protect your car’s reliability and prevent more costly repairs down the line.
The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers.