Belts and Hoses

Belts and Hoses

Among all the equipment in your vehicle, belts and hoses have the shortest lifespan. Due to constant exposure to heat, vibration, and harmful chemicals, these components invariably crack, leak, fray, and peel. If not promptly replaced and maintained, this could spell disaster for the performance of your vehicle. Evaluating the condition of your belts and hoses only on their appearance is not enough. Diligent inspection is required, and we are here to do it. Here is a sample of how we ensure belt and hose quality:

Visual Inspection of Belts

  • Search for clear indications of damage (cracking, glazing, softening, or peeling)
  • Test for correct tension
  • Test for correct alignment
  • Record belt condition for future reference

Visual Inspection of Hoses

  • Search for clear indications of damage (leaks, cracks, hardening, or softening)
  • Test cooling system for leaks using state-of-the-art pressure technology
  • Record hose condition for future reference

It is vital to inspect your vehicle’s belts and hoses on a regular basis because often times a damaged piece has serious effects on the condition of your vehicle. Research shows that while most people are attentive when it comes to regular oil changes, they hardly devote any concern at all to the condition of their belts and hoses. A leaking hose or a cracked belt will cause you more trouble than an overdue oil change ever will! The following is a brief description of some of the different belts and hoses we inspect:

Drive Belts:

  • The engine itself is used as a power source to drive some of your vehicle’s accessories. Instead of being supplied by electric power, these accessories rely on a series of pulleys and belts to operate. Some of these accessories include:
    • Power steering pump
    • Alternator
    • Air conditioning compressor
    • Radiator cooling fan
    • Water pump

Most newer vehicles require a single serpentine belt to power these accessories (as opposed to several individual belts).

Timing Belt

Click here for more Timing Belt Replacement Service information.

The timing belt keeps engine components synchronized by causing valves to open and close at the proper time. If the timing belt is loose or improperly adjusted, it may skip a tooth or more, usually on the cam gear causing the engine to be “out of time”. This results in a loss of synchronization and engine performance.

There are 2 types of engines you will hear about when the discussion of broken timing belts arise, “Interference” and “Non-Interference”. These terms refer to the relationship between the pistons and valves when the camshaft and crankshaft are out of synchronization.

  • Non-interference: When the timing belt breaks the valves and pistons will not contact one another and you can replace the belt.
  • Interference engine: When the timing belt breaks the pistons will hit the valves, bending them and causing major engine damage. When this happens, the cylinder head (or heads) will need to be removed and the valves replaced. In extreme cases, the piston may be damaged also and the engine may need to rebuilt or replaced.

Because the timing belt is made of rubber and reinforced with fiber cords, it will naturally degrade with age. It should be replaced at scheduled intervals which vary among car manufacturers. Usual timing belt service intervals are every 60,000 to 90,000 miles.

Timing belt maintenance and replacement intervals must be followed closely because timing belt failure can occur without warning.

Replacing the timing belt requires removal of the accessory belts, fan belt, or serpentine belts, the pulleys, crankshaft pulley, and timing covers. When replacing the timing belt components inside the timing cover are also inspected and, if necessary, replaced. These components include oil seals and gaskets, tensioners, idlers and idler bearings. Some engines will also require water pump replacement at the same time as the timing belt. The timing belt and timing belt idler are considered a unit and should be replaced at the same time.

Hoses:

  • If you think of hoses as your vehicle’s circulatory system, then you’ll have a good idea of how important they are. Channeling car fluids to their correct destination, hoses are composed of two rubber layers with fabric in between. Types of hoses vary on make and model, but typically they include:
    • Fuel hose (sends gasoline from the gas tank to the engine)
    • Radiator hose (circulates coolant to and from engine)
    • Power steering hose (connects power steering pump to steering equipment)
    • Heater hose (provides coolant to heater core for those chilly days and nights)