Vehicle Belt & Hose Repair

Image of auto engine hose repair

Auto belt and hose repair are important maintenance services because these simple parts can cause serious engine damage. If a belt snaps the engine will not function and a damaged hose won’t be able to deliver coolant. 

Chicago undergoes all weather conditions that can damage these parts and understanding the warning signs of a damaged belt/hose may save you thousands of dollars in repair costs. 

What Types Of Belts Are Found In Cars?

A standard vehicle maintenance item is drive belts. Loud squeals, slow charging of the battery, and even overheating are signs that could lead you to investigate and possibly replace the drive belts on your engine. But make sure you know what sort of belts your car has before you begin the diagnostic process.

What Is A Serpentine Belt?

The serpentine belt is the long rubber belt that powers the alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning compressor, and sometimes the water pump.

You may have heard a fan belt or accessory belt referred to as a serpentine belt. This is because older vehicles had multiple drive belts that linked the engine to the accessories (such as the radiator fan). Modern cars have only one belt (usually) that winds through several pulleys to control all the accessories.

While the most powerful and reliable alternative is using only one belt, it also means that everything stops working when the serpentine belt of your car breaks. You’re going to lose power steering, the A/C is going to stop, the battery is going to die eventually, and the engine could overheat. Plus, the engine accessories that it controls may also be damaged.

What Is A Timing Belt?

Image of timing belt working with a car engine

The timing belt holds all the internal moving parts of an engine in sync, like a bike chain for your car. The water pump, oil pump, and injection pump are sometimes also operated by the timing belt. 

The timing belt is a hard-teeth rubber belt that interlocks with the crankshaft’s cogwheels and the two camshafts. The timing belt synchronizes the camshaft and crankshaft rotation to ensure that the engine exhaust and intake valves open and closes in sync with the pistons. The vehicle will not operate correctly if the crankshaft and camshafts are not working in unison. 

There could be too much fuel-air mixture flowing into the engine combustion chamber if the intake valves open too early, resulting in poor combustion and power loss. And the combustion chamber will lose pressure and cause a loss of power if the exhaust valves open too early. They could collide and damage each other if the engine components are out of sync, resulting in expensive repairs.

What Hoses Are In Cars?

There are several different types of hoses that your vehicle uses. These hoses found in a car include the top radiator hose, bottom radiator hose, and the heater hose.

The top radiator hose works in response to the radiator cooling (transports coolant to engine parts). The bottom radiator hose carries the cooled fluid to the water pump and then pushes it out to the engine. A bypass hose pushes cool fluid from the water pump past the thermostat in your vehicle to control the engine temperature. Finally, the heater hose transfers hot coolant to and from the vehicle’s heating system.

How Are Hoses In Vehicles Damaged?

The cooling system’s weakest structural part is the hoses. They are made of flexible rubber compounds and designed to absorb vibrations between the engine and the radiator. In the case of heater hoses, the hose connects the engine and the body firewall. 

Hoses are built to maintain coolant under pressure, often in contact with fluctuating heat and cold, mud, oils, and sludge. 

Hose damage is not easy to detect, but the most damage that causes hose failure is electrochemical degradation (ECD). Hoses from the inside are struck by ECD, creating small cracks. Acids and pollutants may then damage the yarn materials reinforcing the hose. Pinholes may eventually grow, or the damaged hose may burst from the heat, strain, or continuous flexing.

Top 5 Signs Of Damaged Car Hoses

  1. Collapsed Hoses
  2. Cracks or Holes
  3. Leaking Coolant
  4. Low Coolant
  5. Engine Overheating

Why Do Vehicle Belts Squeak? 

Generally, the squeak you hear is an effect of the belt losing its grip on one or more of the pulleys it’s supposed to spin. It may be a symptom of the belt being worn. The surface of contact may become worn and smooth, lowering the point of friction and allowing the belt to slip. You can hear a loud squeak as the belt drops, almost like putting your finger on a glass plate and slipping it down. The squeak is a result of the breaking of the friction point. 

Another reason for the strange squeaking sound may be moisture. A transient lowering of the friction point can be caused by driving through a large Chicago pothole filled with water, and the squeak will generally go away after the belt dries up. 

A squeak can also be caused by a loose belt, a result of years of stretching, or bad belt tension. The belt is too loose to grip the pulley properly in this situation.

How Often Should Belts And Hoses Be Replaced?

Image of a coolant hose in a car engine

Aging in belts and hoses used to be easy to detect, but modern parts now display no outward signs of damage. Replacing your serpentine belt and timing belt should occur every 50,000 miles. This is a reasonable rule of thumb, but these figures differ depending on your car’s make and model. 

Hoses and belts should be replaced every four years. It is good to have a mechanic periodically check this stuff and err on the side of caution due to the expense and magnitude of the harm caused by a broken belt or burst hose.

How Is The Serpentine Belt Replaced?

  • The mechanic must run the engine to decide if the idler pulley and the belt tensioner are noise-free before removing the belt. These rotating parts have bearings packed with grease and are wearable.
  • The belt’s routing track through the different components is noted. The belt tensioner is released to remove the tension from the belt.
  • For smooth operation and no noise, all rotating parts, namely the alternator and air conditioner compressor, are tested.
  • The new belt is slid over all of the pulleys if everything checks out. The tensioner is released until the belt is balanced on all pulleys, and the installation is complete. 

How Is The Timing Belt Replaced?

A mechanic will begin by removing different attachments to gain access to the engine’s timing cover. The automotive technician will analyze the timing belt and its pulleys after removing the cover to see what requires repair. 

He will begin removing the timing belt at this stage and replacing it with a new one. If the mechanics feels it is necessary to do so, they will possibly replace the pulleys, tensioners, and water pumps. 

The mechanic will put the timing cover back on and replace any other missing parts. The timing belt can be checked by starting the engine now that it is all put back together.

Can A Damaged Belt Or Hose Wait?

The short answer is no. A damaged belt or hose leaves the vehicle prone to further costly damage. Get to a Chicago, IL auto repair shop as soon as possible to prevent more damage that will cost more than replacing a single belt or hose. 

If you suspect that a belt or hose is damaged, contact a car care professional right away. A Chicago mechanic can perform an inspection and repair a hose/belt before it completely breaks. 

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