When it comes to vehicle maintenance, you probably don’t think much about the belts in your engine. But as your vehicle ages, checking your belts is a very important part of keeping it running right. If your belts are allowed to become too worn, they can snap while your vehicle is running and cause costly damage. Read on to learn more about your belts, as well as some tips on how you can tell if they are in need of replacement.
What are Engine Belts?
Your engine has multiple belts mounted to a few different parts that help everything run in sync.
- Serpentine Belt
The serpentine belt is the most common belt in engines today. This belt connects multiple moving parts within your engine, and is held on by one to two pulleys and a tensioner. These belts are typically easy to replace. If you allow yours to break, your engine will not be able to run, possibly leaving you having to call a tow truck.
- Drive Belts & V-belts
These belts are more common on older vehicles, and only run one or two parts of your engine. This means that, if one breaks, there is a chance you won’t be left broken down. You just might not be able to use your air conditioning, or won’t have power steering. Some, however, run important things like your water pump, and if that isn’t working your vehicle can overheat very quickly. One sure sign that a drive belt or v-belt is becoming worn is how tight it is. If you press down on the belt and it moves more than half an inch, the belt is wearing out and needs to be replaced.
- Timing Belts
Nearly all vehicles have timing belts, though some instead having timing chains. These belts are necessary for your vehicle to run, so having one break will mean your vehicle is out of service until it is replaced. Allowing it to break can also cause other issues in your vehicle. They are usually covered by a plastic shroud, so they can be difficult for you to take a look at when inspecting for wear. That is why timing belts are best changed per your manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule. Changing a timing belt on time means that you will never have to worry about the belt breaking.
When it comes to checking your belts for wear, there are a few different things that can indicate your belts are ready to be replaced. Here’s a few tips on what you can look for.
Your Engine Making Strange Noises
One of the biggest signs that you might need to take your vehicle into your neighborhood Chicagoland Jiffy Lube ® for a belt inspection is if you start hearing strange noises coming from your engine. When belts are wearing out, they can make screeching or squealing noises. While not all belt noises mean that it needs to be replaced, it is usually a pretty good indicator. Other issues can also cause belt noise, usually when oil or coolant is leaking from your engine and gets the belt wet. Either way, your vehicle is telling you that it has an issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible.
Your Belt Looks Worn
If you can, take the time to give your belts a look-over if they’re in an easy to see spot. Signs of wear can include cracking or pieces missing from the belt. The more wear you see, the higher risk there is that it can break while you are driving. If you belt looks like it is wearing out unevenly, this means that it needs to be adjusted. It might not need to be replaced, but letting it continue to wear unevenly can also cause the belt to snap.
How Many Miles are on Your Vehicle
Most vehicles today need their belts replaced every 60,000 to 100,000 miles. Some belts can last for much longer than this, whereas others may need to be replaced sooner. Your owner’s manual will have information that tells you how often your belts need to be replaced. Try to avoid going over this milage whenever possible. Even if you do not notice any strange noises or wear to the belt, it is still important to have it checked. Your Chicagoland Jiffy Lube ® technician can check your belt for you to let you know how it is doing as part of your regular maintenance.
While engine belts can be an easy thing to forget about, they are a very important part of your engine. Letting them get too worn can cause damage that is far more expensive than just having the belt replaced. You can trust your neighborhood Chicagoland Jiffy Lube ® team to check your vehicle’s recommended maintenance schedule to see when your belts are due to be changed – and to get the job done right for you in a jiffy.
Jiffy Lube® recommends following manufacturer recommendations, where applicable, for maintenance schedules and service intervals.
Not all services are offered at each Jiffy Lube® location. Please check with your local Jiffy Lube® service center for specific services offered.