Here’s another one that we can file under, “out of sight, out of mind – until we hear a funny noise”. Belts and hoses are some of the more inexpensive parts on a vehicle, but when they fail, they can leave you immobile. The good news is, is that they are usually easy to check and they almost never just “go” on a vehicle. They wear out over time. Before we begin, we will make an obvious statement – before performing either of these checks, make sure the engine is off & has time to cool off!
First, we’ll tackle the serpentine belt. It gets its name because it literally means like a serpent or snake – and this belt kind of snakes around all those pulleys and wheels. The only downside to this is that one belt now helps operate many systems on your engine – everything from the A/C, to the steering and cooling systems, and even your alternator!
However, they are easy to check. You should look at both sides of the belt. Look for a heavy glazing or see if the belt is very shiny on the top side. On the underside of the belt where you’ll find grooves, look for deep cracking and/or dry rot. If both of these conditions are present, have someone replace the belt as soon as convenient. Some newer vehicles are equipped with two serpentine belts. Just check them both. You should also find some pictures of the belt(s) in the maintenance section of your owners manual.
Next the radiator hoses. Again, the most important thing to remember is to check any and all cooling system hoses while the engine is cool! We don’t want you to get hurt or burned. Hoses are a little more challenging to check because sometimes you just can’t eyeball them to get an honest assessment of their condition. This is because, most of the time, they wear from the inside out. Now, pop the hood and right up front should be your radiator. The upper radiator hose will be connected to the top of the radiator on either the drivers or passenger side. Look at the condition of the hose – is it cracked or dried out? Is it swollen at the point where it’s clamped to the radiator? Next, give the hose a squeeze. Does it ooze a little fluid? Or does it feel hard, instead of soft and rubbery? If any of these conditions exist, change that hose! The same applies with the lower radiator hose which you’ll find that near the bottom of the radiator if you access it.