Thursday, August 25, 2011

Why You Should Check Your Serpentine Belt for Wear

I'm pretty fanatical about caring for my cars, in case you haven't noticed yet. The Range Rover recently was put back in service after a complete brake overhaul. Before driving it again,  I gave it a fairly thorough inspection because it has sat nearly all summer. Everything was passing with flying colors. 

And then, I found this.

That's an "epic fail" in the Belts and Hoses department.

I guess I just hadn't taken the time to examine my serpentine belt lately, despite being obsessive about doing 3,000 mile synthetic oil changes, flushing the coolant, and all that other fancy stuff. So it's fortunate that I noticed this before the belt snapped and beat up the rest of the engine compartment.

Serpentine belts are precisely designed to fit your vehicle. Yeah, Some Japanese or German dude spent six years bent over a desk, trying to figure out if a 700mm belt was better than a 700.05mm belt.

And they are indeed critical, seeing as they operate a large number of accessories that usually include power steering, the water pump,  the air conditioning compressor, and on some older cars, the cooling fan. Basically, if this belt breaks, you're totally screwed. Yes, you'll have to give up your pride and call the number on that AAA card your grandma bought for you last Christmas.

Here's how to inspect a serpentine belt for wear. It's not rocket science, but it's important!: