While Mother Nature may have been kinder to some areas of the country over the past winter, Continental still insists that it is important to get your vehicle into “summer shape” with a little preventive maintenance under the hood – and that means checking belts, hoses and all components in the drive and accessory systems.
“Winter weather can be harsh on a car’s engine – especially the rubber parts,” said Tom Lee, Continental’s marketing manager for its North American aftermarket business. “While we know belts and hoses last longer these days, the harsh winter weather with the cold, rain, snow and salt that’s thrown on roads for deicing purposes can accelerate normal wear-and-tear and affect product longevity and operation. That’s why we recommend a semi-annual inspection of underhood components.”
Lee stressed that Continental recommends this comprehensive inspection be conducted preferably by a certified technician to ensure safe mobility. “In the hot summer months, the extreme buildup of heat under a car’s hood can shorten the life of rubber products,” he said. “And when this happens away from home, and a belt or hose failure occurs, an emergency situation is created that will increase both the cost and inconvenience of repairs.”
In addition to the rubber parts, Lee recommended that the metal parts that come in contact with the belts and hose also deserve scrutiny. “To be on the safe side, a qualified technician will check the idlers and tensioners – the whole system – to ensure all parts are functioning properly.”
Poly V belts deliver power from an automobile’s engine to the alternator, fan, various pumps and other equipment. A belt that’s not working properly can cause battery discharge and eventual failure. Hoses, while transporting hot, pressurized coolant to and from the radiator, also serve as a shock absorber between the engine and hose connections, protecting them from damage and a resulting leak.
Continental offers these tips for checking belts and hoses before summer:
Turning a belt over with your fingers to expose the underside, look for 1) glazed sidewalls from oil or aging; 2) cracks caused by high temperatures, flexing and age; 3) uneven wear and exposed edge cords caused by pulley misalignment or wobble.
Hoses should be checked for the following conditions: 1) cracking – usually caused by heat, aging and weathering; 2) bulging or swelling – usually caused by excessive heat or exposure to oil or grease; 3) sponginess from exposure to oil or grease; 4) burst – the result of excessive heat or aging. All of these conditions call for immediate belt or hose replacement.
In addition, Continental supports the Car Care Council’s recommendation for regular inspection of a vehicle’s serpentine belt system. “According to the Council, typical replacement is between 60,000 and 90,000 miles,” said Lee. “Often, the system may require replacement of a tensioner or pulley. Continental offers kits that provide the entire solution.”
For additional information on maintaining or replacing belts or hoses, visit