One of the areas where home inspections can save you a lot of money on costly emergency repairs and road side services is to check your belts and hoses. Knowing what to look for – and what to look out for – can help you know when it’s time to replace belts and hoses at your local Triverton auto parts store before any damage is done. Failure of a belt or hose can cause your engine to overheat, can result in loss of power steering and can even make your electrical charging system fail.
Your cooling system will be inoperable if a hose starts to leak coolant, or if the belt that is used to turn the water pump snaps suddenly, while you are driving to work or are out on a trip with your family. And if your engine overheats, your vehicle could suffer from some pretty serious internal damage that will end up costing you a bundle. In the case of belts and hoses, it is better to be safe than sorry. It is important to take some time to learn a little bit more about how to inspect and replace belts and hoses.
Inspecting the Hoses
The weakest part of the entire cooling system are the hoses. Because they are made to be flexible and able to absorb any vibrations that occur between the engine and the radiator, they are made out of rubber, which is not built to last forever. Heater hoses have it even worse, as they are placed between the engine and the firewall of the vehicle body. The goal is for these hoses to hold coolant under high pressure, as well as stand up to hot and cold temperature changes. These hoses are also exposed to dirt, oils and other issues that can increase the instance of wear and tear.
However, the most likely cause of hose failure is not easy to detect. It is known as ECD or electrochemical degradation, and it attacks the hoses from the inside by causing tiny little cracks. The inner materials can become weakened by continued exposure to acids and contaminants, materials that are used to reinforce the strength of the hose itself. Over time, pinholes can develop in that reinforcement layer, causing fluid to leak out, or the tiny cracks can cause the hose to rupture one day due to constant flexing, increased pressure or heat.
Things you should check with regard to hose safety on your vehicle include:
- check the fluid level in the coolant recovery tank to ensure it is at the proper level; check the marks on the tank to see if the level is where it should be, whether the engine is hot or cold
- watch for white, pink or light green coolant markings inside the engine bay, which can be a sign of left over residue from leaking coolant
- check to see how the hoses feel when the engine is cool: squeeze the hose with your thumb and forefinger near the clamps, as this is where most instances of ECD occur; check for spots that feel weakened, soft or mushy compared to the rest of the hose
- look over the outside of the hose to check for any cracks, nicks or bulges while the hose is still hot; if you see a section in the hose that has collapsed or see any fraying near the connection points, it’s time for a visit to your local Triverton auto parts store
- check the owner’s manual for instructions on the proper flush and fill of the coolant and do it according to the recommended schedule, clean coolant is less likely to cause ECD than older, dirtier coolant
Inspecting the Belts
The reason why you will see a lot of articles that deal with how to replace belts and hoses at the same time is because a lot of the same elements and conditions that cause problems with hoses will also cause problems with belts. While each vehicle is different, most cars and trucks will have a single belt called a serpentine belt that drives the water pump, power steering pump, alternator and the air conditioning compressor. You will see something called V-belts in order vehicles, but while they work independently of each other, they are used for the same purpose.
According to industry experts, the point of change for a serpentine belt should be 50,000 miles, while V-belts should be changed around 36,000 miles or four years after purchase. However, due to improvements made to today’s composite belts, the normal signs of wear and tear are not always obviously clear to the vehicle owner until the failure occurs. It is still important to inspect belts and replace them according to the manufacturer’s recommendations with quality parts from your local automotive parts and service in Fall River.
Things you should check with regard to belt safety on your vehicle include:
- check for any cracking, fraying or splits on the outer top cover of the belts
- check for something known as “glazing” on the sides of the belts, which can cause belts to become slick and ultimately slip, crack or overheat
- you should take the serpentine and twist it to check for any separating layers, missing chunks or cracks on the underside of the belt
- only purchase new belts from your local Triverton auto parts store that are the identical width and length of the factory belt; also check to make sure the replacement belt has the same number of grooves as the factory belt as well
Is It Time to Replace Belts and Hoses?
When it comes to providing local residents with quality automotive parts and service in Fall River and the surrounding South Coast area, LaCava Auto Parts is a trusted source. For more than 70 years, LaCava Auto Parts has been providing supplies and services to customers throughout the Greater Fall River area. We carry a wide variety of hoses, belts and other essential parts to help keep your vehicle running as it should. Give us a call at 508-676-1951 for more information on any of our services, or for operating hours for purchasing automotive parts and services in Fall River, MA.