How To Avoid Belt And Hose Failures

If you look into the engine compartment of your car, you will notice several belts and hoses. They are critical for correct engine function. Any belt or hose failure is a serious issue and can result in a major breakdown.

Belt and hose failures sometimes come with early warning signs. A squeaking noise when you run the engine or when you start the air conditioner is the sign of a faulty or loose belt. If you notice fluid under your car, you probably have a leaking hose. Periodic inspection by a good mechanic is the only way to detect these problems before they result in a breakdown.

Why Are Belts And Hoses So Critical

Belts are used to transfer mechanical power from the engine to other systems and co-ordinate the movement of different components. A timing belt, for instance, co-ordinates the movement of various engine components. Serpentine belts are used to operate the alternator, compressor, power steering and the water pump.

Failure of the timing belt usually results in serious engine damage, which will be expensive to repair. If the serpentine belt fails, your engine will not run. A bad belt can fail at any moment. So, it can leave you stranded at the most inconvenient time or place. In both cases, the only option is to get your car towed to a garage for repairs.

Hoses are used to transfer fluids across components. Fluids are used for lubrication, cooling and operating hydraulic components like the brakes. A leaking hose can result in the engine overheating, increased wear and other critical failures.

Getting Advance Warning Of An Impending Failure

All rubber components in your car become hard and brittle with age. Eventually, these components will lose strength and start to crack. During operation, belts get stressed and heated due to continuous movement over pulleys. So, mileage is also an important factor in their deterioration. A loose or slipping belt may cause squeaking noises and the smell of burning rubber. A loose belt further accelerates belt wear. Hoses are also exposed to heat and with age, they may crack or blister.

Like all rubber components, there is a recommended replacement interval for hoses and belts, but that’s only an indication for average use. If your car is over three years old and has done a lot of miles, it’s best to get it checked periodically.

Deterioration of a belt or hose starts from the inside and is not easily visible in the early stages. Only careful inspection by a good mechanic can detect a belt or hose that is starting to come apart.

When Should A Hose Or Belt Be Replaced?

Hoses should be checked at every oil change and replaced if needed. The mechanic will also replace hoses whenever the water pump or radiator is replaced.

V belts should be checked for cracks, fraying and loose fits. Check your car manual for the recommended replacement interval. A replacement is usually recommended every 40 to 50 thousand miles.

Serpentine belts and its associated pulleys and tensioners should be inspected for wear and loose fits. The same goes with the timing belt. Typical replacement period for serpentine and timing belts is 60 to 90 thousand miles.

Replacing Belts And Hoses

Belts and hoses are critical links in your car and you should always get them replaced at a good garage. Ensure that either OEM or good-quality replacement components are used. While changing the serpentine belt, worn pulleys and tensioners will also be changed.

It is estimated that about 10% of vehicles on the roads have belts and hoses that are very close to failure and are heading for a breakdown. Don’t be part of that statistic. Periodic service at a good garage includes belt and hose inspections. Get your car serviced regularly and any issues will be detected and fixed in time.

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