Vehicle Belt Factoids

timing belt

As we celebrate National Car Care Month in April, here are a few factoids about your vehicle’s belts to keep in mind:

• Belts in today’s vehicles are designed to last for years, and you may even know people who haven’t ever replaced them

• But if you ever hear a loud, sharp squealing come from under your hood, that is one indication that the belts are due for replacement

• Many of the vehicles on the road today have ONE belt called a serpentine belt, and if it breaks, you could find yourself STRANDED

• This serpentine belt turns EVERYTHING, the water pump, power steering pump, and alternator

• Belts are designed to be TIGHT…very tight

• But belts are made of rubber and when time and temperature take their toll on the belt, it can stretch, causing it to become loose

• This creates slippage on the pulleys it rides on and that slippage creates the squeal

• EVERY time that the belt slips and squeals, heat is generated that will cause damage to the bearings in the pulleys of the driven components

• If a bearing locks up from the heat, not ONLY will you have to replace the belt now, but the component that has the locked pulley

• To give you an idea of the possible costs you can incur, alternator replacement is about $250-$350, power steering pumps are $350+, air conditioning compressors can be anywhere from $300-$1200, and water pumps are $200-$600!

• In the worst case scenario, if you have a supercharged vehicle, if the belt breaks and get sucked into the supercharger, you could be looking at as much as $3000+ for that repair

• But keep in mind that belts don’t ALWAYS squeal when they need to be replaced. Some won’t ever make ANY noise, but they will begin to crack, and eventually break all the way through, so have your repair technician keep an eye on the condition of the belt

If you’d like to learn more about your vehicle’s belts or need to schedule your next maintenance, give us a call at 804.642.2440!