In summer, car and trucks are a lot like people – they are happiest when kept cool. A belt or hose failure can cause an overheated engine, the loss of power steering and loss of the electrical charging system, potentially requiring expensive repairs. Thankfully, easy preventive maintenance of hoses and belts can help keep your vehicle’s engine cool under the sun and your summer driving vacation plans on track.
Made of flexible rubber compounds which absorb vibration, hoses are the cooling system’s weakest structural component. Manufactured to hold coolant under pressure, hoses are subjected to the extremes of hot and cold, dirt, oils, acids and sludge. Hoses slowly deteriorate from the inside; a weakened hose may rupture from pressure, heat, or constant flexing. The most susceptible areas of the hose are nearest to clamps where it connects to the engine or radiator.
Simple and minor maintenance can help prevent coolant hose failure:
- Check the white coolant-recovery tank’s markings to confirm correct the fluid level. Also check for white, pink, blue or light green, blue, or pink coolant residue in the engine bay – a sign of leakage.
- When the engine is cool, give the hoses a squeeze near the clamps, feeling for soft spots. A good hose will be firm yet pliable.
- Inspect for visible cracks, nicks, depressions or bulges.
- Look for oil contamination or fraying near the connection points.
- Inspect for parallel cracks in bends, a hardened glossy surface or abrasive damage.
- Flush & replace the coolant according to the owner’s manual as clean coolant will lessen deterioration.
Many of the same things – heat, ozone, oil and abrasion – that damage hoses also harm a vehicle’s belts. Most cars and trucks have one multi-grooved serpentine belt to drive the alternator, water pump, power-steering pump, and air-conditioning compressor. A belt should be changed when it shows signs of excessive wear.
- Inspect the serpentine belt for cracks, fraying, or splits on the top cover.
- Look for signs of excessive glazing on the belt’s sides. Glazed or slick belts can slip, overheat or crack.
- Twist the belt to check for separating layers, cracks, or missing chunks of the grooves on the underside.
- Listen for the sounds of a belt-tension problem: high-pitched whining, chirping and vibration.
Speak to a qualified technician about any cooling issues and always consult your owner’s manual for routine maintenance procedures.
It’s that simple. A quick under-the-hood inspection of your vehicle’s hoses and belts, lends peace-of-mind that your summer driving will be smooth and carefree!
Visit a conveniently located American Car Center today for exceptional service and let us find for you a great vehicle from our vast inventory of late-model, low-mileage cars, trucks and SUVs. We make it easy for hard-working people across the Southeast to drive a high-quality vehicle no matter their credit history.