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Monday, January 28, 2013

Automotive Preventative Maintenance-Checking the Belts

Preventative maintenance for your vehicle is about saving money and ultimately time. You can save money by avoiding expensive repairs and you can save time by not needed to wait for repairs to be done. One of the most simple aspects of vehicle maintenance is keeping a check on the quality of your oil, and having it changed regularly. Checking your tires for wear and tear, as well as maintaining correct air pressure, is also important. It is also about checking the belts in your vehicle periodically. How to check the belts in your vehicle: At your vehicle’s sixty-thousand mile tune-up make sure that your belts are changed, whether or not they are showing signs of wear. Your mechanic should not charge you any additional labor charges to do so as changing the timing belt is already part of the service. The first step to checking the belts is to be sure that your engine is switched off. To avoid injury, ensure that you don’t attempt to touch the belts until both they and the engine have fully cooled. The hood release can be found under the dashboard. Then simply slide your hand under the front of the hood to find the safety catch, which will need to be either squeezed or slid to open the hood. As you look into the engine from the front of the vehicle you will see there are belts in front of the vehicle’s engine The engine’s orientation depends on whether your vehicle is rear or front wheel drive. In rear wheel drive vehicles the engine is set closer to the front, whereas the engine is set further back in front wheel drive vehicles. Check how many belts you can see. The number of belts to be checked will depend on the make and model of the vehicle. The belts are called drive belts because the drive various components of the vehicle’s operations like the power steering pump, the water pump, the smog pump, the alternator and the fan. There will be a minimum of two belts on your vehicle. Each belt runs over a pulley. As you locate them, press lightly in the middle of the longest part of the belt with your thumb to test the tension. Look at the owner’s manual for your vehicle to see how much give in the belt should have. Usually it is less than an inch of give when you press down gently. If the belt is beginning to show signs that it’s beginning to dry out or crack, make a note of this. It is normal to notice a small amount of cracking on the belt. However there should not be larger chunks missing.Check for missing pieces or large cracks but note that some small cracking is normal and nothing to worry about. There may be a rust color on the belt which is also normal. As the belt operates, a fine dust is created and this will rust over time. It is nothing to worry about. This is particularly true of the belt for the air conditioning clutch. If the belt has too much give or you see obvious signs of wear then it needs to be replaced before it breaks. Another sign that the belt must be replaced or tightened is when it makes a screeching sound as you hit the gas. A broken belt can be a costly repair.

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