We all know how important it is to keep a regular car maintenance schedule that tracks your last oil change, when you replaced your air filters, and so much more. One thing I forgot to put on that list is checking your vehicle belts & hoses! Did you know you should be checking your vehicle belts & hoses regularly and that, like everything else, you need to replace them eventually? Yea, I completely forgot about that too! So let’s get into what vehicle belts & hoses you have and how often you should be replacing them.
Vehicle Belts & Hoses 101
There are a of couple main vehicle belts & hoses you should be checking. The timing belt, serpentine belt, and your coolant/heater hose.
Hoses- Coolant & Heater
According to Silvhorn Automotive, “hoses provide a flexible connection for coolant flow between the engine, radiator, and heating block.” Your coolant and heater hoses are made up of rubber and can withstand high heats and low temperatures. They take on a lot of wear and tear which is why you should check them regularly.
The biggest issue you’ll have if any of these hoses split is overheating. Of course, you don’t want your car to overheat since it will cause a lot of damage to your engine. Here are some signs you can look for and how you can prevent a broken hose. Warning! You can only check your coolant level when your car is cooled down. Hot coolant, once you release the reservoir cap, can splash into your eyes or onto your skin and burn you.
- Check your coolant reservoir. If you notice it is low or you notice a residue on your engine, then you’ll need to check the hose and probably replace it. You can read more about coolant levels in my past article linked here.
- Since these hoses are made of firm rubber, if you squeeze them and notice the rubber to be loose or weak feeling, go ahead and replace it. Your hoses should stay firm to help prevent them from splitting.
- Flush your coolant according to your owners manual. Keeping fresh coolant in will help keep your hose clean.
- Buy hoses that are listed as ECR: Electro-Chemical Resistant. This will help prolong the life of your hose and vehicle.
- If you keep your car well maintained, you should only have to replace your hoses every 4 years or 36,000 miles.
Timing & Serpentine Vehicle Belts
The most common belt in your car is your serpentine or drive belt. It is usually the first one you see when you open your hood. It controls all your accessories including the alternator, water pump, power steering, and cooling fans. So, if it snaps or splits (which I’ve seen), your car will stop working and you’ll be looking at an expensive invoice from your mechanic.
Warning Signs & When To Replace:
- If your car is well maintained, you should replace your serpentine belt after about 70,000 miles. However, you should still examine it during every oil change just to make sure everything is o.k.
- Look for cracks, splits, or even grease spots. If you notice anything, replace your belt. You do not want grease on the belt because it will slip off so be careful pouring motor oil or touching it with slippery hands!
- If you hear a screeching noise coming from under your hood, then there is a good chance it is your belt coming off. Again, inspect and call your mechanic if you think it needs to be replaced.
The next one on the list is your timing belt. According to Pep Boys, the timing belt “is a toothed or ribbed belt that is the sole component that keeps the camshaft(s) and crankshaft in sync.” If you don’t know what your camshaft and crankshaft are, then read this article.
Warning Signs & When To Replace:
- Same as above, your timing belt should be replaced after 70,000 miles (or less), but you should check it regularly. Look at the back of the belt to see if it is worn or cracked, or if the edges have split.
- If you have a hard time starting your car and know it isn’t your battery or alternator. Also, if you hear a high pitched shrieking or whirring sound when you start your engine.
- If you notice grease or oil around or near the belt.
- Your timing belt is very difficult to replace, so if you suspect something is wrong then take it to your mechanic.
The last thing we will go over is your belt tensioner. Just how the name sounds, your belt tensioner maintains the correct belt tension. Without the right tension, whether your belts are on too tight or not tight enough, you could cause some serious engine damage. Therefore, if you suspect something wrong with your timing or serpentine belt, then have your mechanic check the tensioner as well.
All in all, your vehicle belts and hoses are very important to keeping your car running correctly. Without them, your car wouldn’t start which is why you should know what they are and how to prevent them from cracking. Just like anything that is exposed to high and low temperatures and a lot of wear and tear, your belts and hoses can break very easily if you aren’t paying attention.
Knowing your vehicle will help prevent damages, which will keep your car and your wallet very happy!