Losing a belt today can mean big trouble for the engine tomorrow. Serpentine belts are used on most engines to turn the water pump, alternator, power steering, and air-conditioning compressor. If a belt snaps, you may be stranded. 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 or hose by its outward appearance, because most belts and hoses fail from the inside out," said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council, an automotive consumer education group. "Replace belts, radiator and heater hoses at specific recommended intervals to prevent your car from breaking down."
- 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 also indicates 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. 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.