Car Belts and Hoses: Here’s What You Should Know

Cherryl Anne Cruz

Your car’s belts and hoses are important to your vehicle. The belts transmit power from the engine to other accessories like the air conditioner, fans, and charging systems. They also allow your engine to run smoothly, allowing power to be dispersed well throughout your vehicle. Hoses, on the other hand, help transport fluid to different parts of your vehicle. Without hoses, your car’s engine can overheat and suffer serious damages that might need expensive repair.

Some of the significant factors that affect their replacement include vehicle age, failed hose clamps, vehicle mileage, electrolytic corrosion, belt tension, and oil contaminants. The more these factors are present, the more frequent they need to be replaced.

Typically, the most common symptoms that would cause concern include coolant leaks, burnt rubber smell, squeaking noise under the hood when starting the car, malfunctioning air conditioning system, and dashboard lights. Here’s how to inspect your hoses and belts for possible damages:

How to Inspect Your Hoses

  • When your engine is cool, squeeze the hose with your thumb and forefinger near the clamps. A good hose would feel solid yet pliable. It shouldn’t feel soft and mushy in some areas.
  • Check for nicks, cracks, and bulges while the hose is hot. Also, check for frayed edges near the connection points and sunken areas. The surface should feel smooth and even.
  • Other signs of damages to check include: hardened glass surface due to heat damage, abrasions, and parallel cracks around the bends caused by ozone exposure.
  • According to Consumer Report, the upper radiator hoses fail more than any of the hoses. Also, the water pump bypass hose and the outlet heater hose from the engine to the heater core are also the most vulnerable to damage.

Car experts recommend to replace hoses at least every four years, or when one of them fails. It’s also good to replace them with features customized to fight electrochemical degradation (ECD). This causes the most damage to a car’s hose, and attacks them from the inside to cause tiny cracks.

How to Inspect Your Belts

  • Check your belts for splits on the top cover. Also, look for fraying and cracks on the surface.
  • Look closely for a glazed appearance on the belt’s side. This can cause the belts to crack and slip during operation.
  • Twist the serpentine belt to inspect for cracks, separated layers, and missing chunks under the grooves.
  • Listen for vibrating, high-pitched, or chirping sounds. This is a significant indication that the belt’s tension is not correct. Improper belt tension will cause some car accessories to malfunction.

Car experts recommend to inspect your timing belt at your car manufacturer’s suggested intervals, but for preventive measures, it’s always a good practice to do a thorough inspection every 10,000 kilometers or so.

When all else fails, you can always ask the help of a qualified technician or mechanic to diagnose your hose and leaks. That way, you’re sure that you’re giving your vehicle the exact care it deserves.

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