Checking belts on a Toyota here on Long Island, NY.

When Is the Last Time You Did a Belt Check?

Posted at Fri, Mar 27, 2020 10:45 AM

Most drivers do not realize just how many moving parts go into keeping your Toyota functioning on a daily basis. It is easy to remain ignorant in this regard, particularly if everything is running the way it should, but it is never a bad idea for a car owner to be cognizant of some of the problems that might pop up. Of all the parts under the hood you should be familiar with, belts are among the most crucial because of just how much they do.

A poorly functioning belt or a belt that breaks could lead to some serious and costly problems for you, so it is advisable that you do belt checks on a regular basis. For those who have no inkling where to begin in this regard, we here at Westbury Toyota have got you covered – we put together this short, informative guide detailing why you should check your belts, what to look for, and how often.

What Are the Types of Belts?

There are three types of belts commonly found in cars. The first is a timing belt, which connects the camshafts to the engine’s crankshafts and ensures their timing coincides. Timing belts are recognizable as they are thin and have teeth on the underside to keep them from slipping. V belts are most commonly found in older vehicles and derive their name from the shape of the belt. Because they are older, V belts tend to be noisier than other kinds of belts. The last kind of belt is a serpentine belt, which are often found in newer vehicles. Serpentine belts are grooved on one side and are flat on the other and are wrapped around numerous pulleys.

What Do the Belts Do and What Should You Be Checking For?

The belts beneath your vehicle’s hood have a few different and equally important functions, such as driving the alternator, the power steering pump, the air conditioning, and the water pump, to name just a few. A malfunction of any of these can lead to problems like your engine seizing or a catastrophic loss of coolant. Fortunately, it is pretty easy to check belts for telltale indicators of wear and tear, and there are also some clear and obvious signs that your belts might need some attention:

  • A squealing noise is one of the most common signs that a belt is on the verge of failing. If you hear a noise when you start your car, or when the wheel is turned all the way to one side, it’s indicative of a problem with one or more belts.
  • If you are hearing any kind of strange grinding noise when the car is running, the experts of I Drive Safely suggest that there’s likely a belt that needs some attention.
  • When the car is idling, a slapping noise may mean that one of the belts is not functioning properly.

If you hear any of these when you are in your vehicle, it means it is time for a visual inspection. What you need to check for are signs of excessive wear, such as cracking. The older and more used a belt is, the stiffer the rubber becomes to the point where it will get brittle. Once it reaches that point, it will start to crack and if it cracks, it will eventually fail. Another thing you should check for is wear along the outer edges and if there is some, you’ll need to replace the best as soon as possible. Splitting is another thing to keep your eye out for, which is obvious as the belt will be thinner than it should be.

How Often Should You Check Your Belts?

In order to keep your belts in good working condition a good rule of thumb to follow is to replace your V belts every 30,000 miles and your timing and serpentine belts every 50,000 miles. If you’re hearing some noises you should not be hearing, or if you just want to be proactive, it is a good idea to give your car’s belts a visual inspection once every couple of months.

While those driving older cars need to be vigilant about belt maintenance, it is never a bad idea to keep up with regular checks even in modern cars. If you have looked at your belts and are still unsure of their condition, be sure to book your vehicle in for an inspection with the friendly team of expert mechanics here at Westbury Toyota just in case.

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