By Ed Miner, Jr.
Kolohe Auto Repair
The holidays are over now and time to get back to business. This month we will talk about drive belts on your engine.
Does you hear an annoying squealing sound in the morning when you first start your car? Maybe you only hear a noise when turning the wheel sharply trying to park. This is usually overlooked by most people because the noise “goes away” or “I don’t hear it all the time”. It is very important to have this checked out by someone knowledgeable to give an idea what the problem is. See the reason being that newer cars today usually only use one drive belt to run all the accessories on the engine like the water pump or power steering. It’s possible the noise could be due to a failing belt tensioner or a idler pulley and not just the belt. Bad news here folks if the belt breaks it you will see all the dash lights come on and you will lose the power steering. More importantly the water pump most likely will not be turning so the engine would overheat very quickly…. usually within driving less than a mile. Not a good scenario… especially at night on a dark road and it’s raining.
Most serpentine belts are very hard to tell how old they are unless you can see the underside of the belt and you see cracks in the ribs of the belt. The average life of today’s belts is around 3 to 4 years depending on your driving habits. Older cars with the traditional v-belts are a little more forgiving and can usually make noise for some time letting the driver know it’s time to deal with it. So don’t take any chances…a belt replacement will average around 100 to 150 bucks depending on the vehicle and most shops can quote you over the phone with vehicle year and engine size. Good shops will offer a free inspection of your belt just for peace of mind as long as you make an appointment and you should not have to leave your car either. Our shop does offer this free service or call for a quote….just don’t ignore that noise because it could become very costly if you do overheat the engine.
We wish to wish everyone a safe and prosperous New Year and thank you for supporting the Big Island Chronicle.