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How to Check Your Vehicle’s Belts and Hoses

Wednesday, September 27 2017 2:38 PM
By 360 Administrator
How to Check Your Vehicle’s Belts and Hoses

To quickly spot any potential problems, check your belts and hoses for cracks, residue, frayed spots and areas that have been rubbed smooth over time.

The best time to check your vehicle's belts and hoses are during the summer months when overheating usually occurs and during the winter months. Even though overheating can occur at any time, the high summer temperatures tend to trigger accelerated deterioration of rubber components like your belts and hoses. It’s also important to check during the cold winter months when repeated expansion and contraction will weaken belts and hoses. To avoid such problems, we suggest a simple inspection.

Coolant and Heater Hoses

Your coolant and heater hoses are the cooling system’s weakest parts. They are made of flexible rubber to absorb any vibrations from other components of the engine. They are also designed to hold coolant under pressure and withstand fluctuating temperatures, dirt and oils. When inspecting hoses, the toughest damage to detect is electrochemical degradation (ECD). ECD attacks the hoses from the inside, creating tiny cracks caused by acids and contaminants in the coolant. Eventually, pinholes will develop and the hose could rupture. It is recommended that all hoses be replaced every four years.

How to Inspect Hoses:

  • Always wait for your vehicle to cool down before inspecting it. Be aware that a cooling fan could come on at any time.
  • Once cooled down, check the fluid levels of the white coolant-recovery tank. The tank has marks to indicate proper levels. If the tank continues to be low after several fillings, suspect a leak in the hose.
  • Track any coolant leaks by inspecting any residue on hoses. The residue is usually white, green or pink in color.
  • Use your thumb and forefinger to squeeze any hoses near the clamps. If it’s a soft or squishy texture instead of firm, you may need a replacement.
  • Look for cracks, bulges, collapsed sections or frayed areas near connection points.
  • If you see any glassy, hardened spots on the rubber, that indicates heat damage.
  • Look for parallel cracks around bends or abrasive damage caused by rubbing.
  • Flush and replace coolant according to your owner’s manual. When the coolant is kept clean, it’s less likely to support ECD.

Accessory Belts

Belts are attacked by many of the same elements as hoses - heat, oil and abrasion. Almost all cars built today have a single multi-grooved serpentine belt that drives the alternator, water pump, power-steering pump and air conditioning compressor. The average lifespan of a serpentine belt is 50,000 miles.

How to Inspect Belts:

  • When the vehicle is running, listen for a high-pitched chirping sound or vibration. This means the belt doesn’t have proper tension and will end up slipping or generating too much heat and failing.
  • Once the engine is cool, check for any cracks, fraying or split areas on the belts.
  • Look for glazed areas on the sides of belts. Glazed spots can slip, overheat or crack.
  • Twist the belt and look for any separating layers, cracks or missing chunks on the underside.

Scholfield Honda’s experienced technicians can replace your vehicle’s belts and hoses and have you back on the road worry-free. Schedule an appointment with our Service Center online today.