A belt or hose failure can cause issues. This can include an overheated engine, loss of power steering, and loss of the electrical charging system. If a hose leaks coolant or the belt turning the water pump snaps, the cooling system is inoperable. If the engine overheats, it can suffer serious internal damage. Overheating can occur anytime, but usually happens in the summer. The temperatures are much higher, and heat can trigger or accelerate deterioration of rubber compounds.
Hoses are the cooling system’s weakest structural component. They are made of flexible rubber compounds to absorb vibrations between the engine and radiator, or, in the case of heater hoses, the engine and body’s firewall. They are designed to hold coolant under pressure. Hoses will also fluctuate the heat and cold, dirt, oils, and sludge.
Check the white coolant-recovery tank often to ensure proper fluid level. Marks on the tank indicate the proper level for when the engine is cold or hot. If the tank is low after repeated fillings, there could be a leak. Also check for white, light green, blue, or pink coolant tracks in the engine bay, which is residue left from leaking coolant.
Inspect for cracks, nicks, bulges usually while hot, or a collapsed section in the hose and oil contamination, or fraying near the connection points. Look for parallel cracks around bends, a hardened glassy surface, or abrasive damage.
Many of the same elements that weaken hoses also weaken belt. This includes heat, oil, ozone, and abrasion. Almost all cars and trucks built today have a single multi-grooved serpentine belt that drives the alternator, water pump, power-steering pump, and air-conditioning compressor. Look for cracks, fraying, or splits on the top cover. Also check for signs of glazing on the belt’s sides. Glazed or slick belts can slip, overheat or crack. Twist a serpentine belt to look for separating layers, cracks, or missing chunks of the grooves on the underside.
Replacement belts should be identical in length, width, and number of grooves to the factory belt. Serpentine belts are usually kept tight. Signs of a belt-tension problem include a high-pitched whine or chirping sound and vibration noises. Without proper tension, belts will slip and generate heat or fail to turn the accessories. If you are not sure if the belts are wearing, make sure to bring the vehicle in and we can inspect them for you.