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Why You Should Replace Your Timing Belt Before It Breaks

Why You Should Replace Your Timing Belt Before It Breaks

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kobayashiGT

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Why You Should Replace Your Serpentine Belt Before It Breaks.

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You wear a lot of hats if you are a boss, a father, a son, a chef, a technician (when your wife yell at you about a spoiled light bulb) and the list goes on. Your car's engine wears more than one hat, too. It offers, of course, the power to drive your vehicle. Yet other tasks are still performed by it. The engine must produce electricity, for example. 

It must also assist with power steering, control its own temperature, and when it is hot outside, keep occupants cool inside. 

What is a serpentine belt?

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Image: Wikipedia

The serpentine belt is a long winding rubber belt that snakes around pulleys linked to each of the engine accessories, the alternator, power steering pump, air conditioning compressor, and maybe the water pump. The timing belt is a long, winding, rubber belt.  The timing belt is spun by the engine crankshaft and in turn, turns, or' drives', the attachments, also called a fan belt, alternator belt, or accessory drive belt. Older cars depended on numerous drive belts, but the automobiles of today(usually depend on only one, the serpentine belt.) Depending on the make and model of your car, truck, or SUV, most manufacturers recommend routine inspection of the serpentine belt and replacement anywhere from 100k to 150k kilometres. To avoid loss or breakage when driving, the belt should be adjusted as part of your normal preventative maintenance plan. 

But what if that one belt does break? What happens to the engine or the accessories? And what if it breaks while you are on the road?

If the serpentine belt breaks

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Since the serpentine belt is the only component that drives the engine accessories,  you can imagine that the accessories are not going to work without it. Since the compressor does not pump,  the air conditioning will not operate.  As the pump is not working either the power steering would fail. And the electrical device will die as soon as the battery dies from the alternator's lack of power.  If the serpentine belt powers the water pump (it is also operated by the timing belt), the engine might overheat as well. In short, the vehicle will stop working. 

Spoiler

In short, you are screwed.  😅

So, what if when you are driving on the lane, it breaks? Losing air conditioning is uncomfortable in the middle of the day.

It is a little more serious to lose power steering. 

The steering wheel suddenly becomes hard to turn when the serpentine belt fails, and the steering mechanism no longer has power assist. 

No notice is issued that the wheel is about to go from easy to difficult.

If you are in the centre of an intersection when it happens, it can be a real danger. 

And so, does the electrical system when the alternator stops working. The engine is shut down the power brake assist is gone. 

So, you are out of harm's way if the serpentine belt splits when you are in your driveway. Otherwise, you could be in for a dilemma. 

Can I tell if my serpentine belt is compromised?

As part of a normal maintenance plan, the safest way to make sure your serpentine belt is in good condition is to get it inspected periodically.

In order to assess how much life it has left, a mechanic may check the belt for wear and use a special scale.

Whenever it is worn beyond the recommendations of the manufacturer or if it shows signs of glazing or cracking, it should be replaced.

Symptoms that can alert a driver to a failing belt are also present.

A squealing sound may be an indication of either a worn or glazed belt or a pulley that seizes up and causes the belt to slip, especially when the engine is first launched.

Not only the belt but also the pulleys on each of the powered parts, as well as the idler and tensioner pulleys, will be tested by a car mechanic who helps to correctly route the belt and maintain stable tension. If any of these parts show signs of damage, wear, or misalignment, they should be replaced.

So review your maintenance schedule to find out how frequently it is expected to replace the serpentine belt.

And have a mechanic routinely test it. Many hats are worn by your car, and they can't take them off. That means that when it comes to caring for the one aspect that binds them all together, you can't be too careful.

WD40 Specialist Automotive Belt Dressing

There is also belt dressing that you can help with the maintenance of your serpentine belt. It’s specially formulated to penetrate the chord fibres to restore flexibility and pliability to your car’s belts, which will provide better grip and traction for all types of belts.

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Maybe last time you will still hear of serpentine belts breaking and what are the issues it can create like engine overheating for example. Now you seldom hear this kinda thing happening on modern cars.

Even for my car the crankshaft is running only 2 device, the alternator and the aircon compressor via the belt. Car engineers have remove most of the parasitic loads on the crankshaft and move it to either electric or other mechanical means. The load on the belt has also become lesser as a result. With better quality v-belts today that has the white fiber reinforcement you dont really have to bother about the belt until much much later.

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1 hour ago, Watwheels said:

Maybe last time you will still hear of serpentine belts breaking and what are the issues it can create like engine overheating for example. Now you seldom hear this kinda thing happening on modern cars.

Even for my car the crankshaft is running only 2 device, the alternator and the aircon compressor via the belt. Car engineers have remove most of the parasitic loads on the crankshaft and move it to either electric or other mechanical means. The load on the belt has also become lesser as a result. With better quality v-belts today that has the white fiber reinforcement you dont really have to bother about the belt until much much later.

Dun be surprising  some new model vw sold in sg is using back the timing belt system.

Cost  a bomb every 100k or so.

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