Belts & Hoses
In most cases your mechanic can check your belts and hoses when you bring in the car for an oil change. However, if you get your oil changed by some quick lube center, belts and hoses may not be on their list of items to check – in which case you’re on your own. These checks are best done while the car is cold.
Belts are used to drive a number of components on an engine including: the water pump, power steering pump, air conditioner, alternator and an emission control pump. Some later model cars have a single “serpentine” belt that handles everything. This type of belt looks flat on one side with several ribs on the other side. You should check the ribbed side for signs of dry and cracked rubber. Serpentine belts are usually self-adjusting and very durable. They should last about 30,000 miles. The other type of belt is called a “V” belt and is adjustable. There is usually more than one to an engine, sometimes three or four. Check each one for cracks and tightness and have them replaced if you find any problems. Some V belts are hard to reach but no less important so if you can’t reach it to check then have your mechanic do it periodically.
Hoses should be checked visually and by feel. You are looking for dry cracked rubber, especially at the ends where they are attached. You should also check the ends for any signs of ballooning.