Did you know that maintaining the belts and hoses in your car can help keep crucial functions like engine charging, air conditioning, and cooling systems performing at optimal levels?
If your serpentine belt were to break on one of our West Des Moines, Iowa roads, your battery would die in a few miles. If it runs your fan or water pump, your engine could overheat, making steering and braking more difficult. Obviously, the best thing to do is to replace your serpentine belt before it breaks.
You may have been told by a service advisor in West Des Moines to look for cracks in your belt to see if it needs to be replaced. Of course, cracks are still a concern, but modern belt material doesn’t crack as often as old belts did. What we look for these days is the thickness of the belt. We have a special little tool at All Pro Servicenter that measures the depth of the grooves in the belt to see if it needs replacing.
A worn belt can slip or be misaligned, putting undue stress on the accessories it runs. Now you can imagine it’s important for the belt to be tight, so there’s a tensioner pulley on your engine that puts pressure on the belt to keep it at the right tension. The spring on the tensioner wears out over time so we recommend replacing the tensioner pulley at the same time as the serpentine belt.
Replacing your serpentine belt on schedule, or when an inspection warrants it, will keep you from an unexpected breakdown.
Your timing belt choreographs the timing of your combustion process. Your pistons travel up and down in the cylinder. Intake valves open at the right time to let in air and fuel, they close at the right time to allow the fuel to burn, and then the exhaust valves open at the right time to let out the exhaust.
If your timing belt is off, your engine won’t run. And that’s the best case. The worst case is that a valve is opening at the wrong time and collides with the piston. The result is bent valves and maybe even more damage to the cylinder head. Repairs can run several thousand dollars.
On some engines, the water pump is driven by the timing belt as opposed to the serpentine belt. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to replace the water pump when you’re replacing the timing belt, and vice versa since much of the same work has to be done for either. The same is true for the timing belt tensioner – it should be inspected and possibly replaced.
Even though replacing a timing belt is one of the more expensive routine maintenance items on your service schedule, not replacing your timing belt can lead to some of the most expensive repairs you’re likely to ever have.