It’s hot and it wants to get even hotter. That’s because the most basic function of a car’s internal combustion engine is to transform heat energy into effective power. But, unfortunately, all of this heat cannot be used for motive power. About 25% is used for power, while 45% of the heat generated escapes as exhaust and frictional losses. The remaining 30% is transferred into the engine components. The heat that is absorbed into the engine must be discharged, or else the engine will overheat and fail. So, to protect the engine against overheating, a sophisticated cooling system regulates the engine temperature to a proper operating range.
Today’s high-performance engines produce more power, and thus more heat, so improved cooling systems are needed to maintain a proper operating temperature. Water jackets surround the engine and cylinder heads to cool them. These water jackets are supplied with the latest engine coolants, through upper and lower rad hoses connected from the radiator to the engine. The coolant is heated in the engine and then forced by a water pump to circulate through the engine and out to the radiator, where it is cooled by the fan and also by air travelling through the radiator. Another important component of this system is the thermostat, which regulates coolant flow.
Add to this a serpentine belt, and myriad sensors to control everything from emissions to fan operation, and you have a complex array of components to be aware of when cooling maintenance or repair becomes an issue.
According to the Car Care Council, one in five vehicles on the road today needs a new belt. Due to advancements in belt construction and rubber compounds, it is difficult to detect when a belt is worn past its service life and needs to be replaced.
However, inventory tools from major suppliers have become increasingly useful in the jobber world of parts proliferation.
Years ago, Dayco started working with vehicles in operation (VIO) data to hone suggested inventories, and this has blossomed into a whole series of tools for jobbers and service providers. Today, tools are more sophisticated. The company offers three key technology-based tools for the market: Automated Order Writing, also referred to as Preferred Parts, is a internal software program tool that suggests appropriate popular inventory for a given region; Custom Cataloguing is another tool designed to help installers or fleet accounts when they work on specific makes/models only; the “Profit Calculator” is designed to provide the jobber salesperson with ammunition when reminding an installer of the cash flow and gross profits available on serpentine belt and tensioner replacements.
Veyance, marketer of Goodyear brand belts and hoses, offers its DataDrive Market Intelligence tool. It uses information about geographical locations, vehicle types, and other factors to help distributors of Goodyear Engineered Products stock the right products specifically for their local markets, with up-to-date information down to the part number, and helps identify potential buyers in the area.
Algorithms help it predict parts failures in local and regional markets.
Gates Corporation has released a new interactive Accessory Belt Drive System (ABDS) display and sales support materials.
To assist distribution channel partners and automotive service providers with educating consumers on the importance of their vehicle’s accessory belt drive system and the benefits of proper maintenance, Gates has created the engaging sales tool and visual aid.
“With the success of our recent timing belt display and the need for increased serpentine belt inspection and replacement in the marketplace, we have created an ABDS display to promote the importance of inspecting and replacing belts, tensioners, and pulleys when needed,” explains Dave Miller, Gates Aftermarket vice-president marketing.
The Gates campaign focuses on a “system” approach to diagnosing belt wear issues, and the display is a great way to show customers exactly why these parts are important to maintain optimum engine accessory drive performance.
In addition to the display, the ABDS kit includes drive system diagnostic tools for professional technicians and sales aids to capture consumer attention. Each kit is shipped with everything needed to educate consumers and show them the value of a complete system repair, and includes:
Laser Alignment Tool – Confirms proper alignment of belt drive system.
Belt Wear Gauges & Instruction Cards – Used to determine wear of serpentine belts.
Customer Waiting Area Poster – Captures consumer attention and encourages a request for belt inspection.
Counter Mat – Illustrates system approach, showing the functions of individual components and symptoms of worn belts, tensioners, and pulleys.
Belt Stick Sample – Visual aid to help consumers understand when a belt is ready for replacement.
Having access to the proper inventory leads to customer satisfaction, increased sales, and an efficient inventory system. For example, CRP Automotive, makers of Conti Tech Serpentine Belts, provides an online easy look-up of CRP’s catalogue. It can be accessed through the CRP Automotive Conti Tech brand website, www.showmetheparts.com/crp, or www.contibelts.com.
CRP offers an all makes/all models Conti Tech serpentine belt program for both domestic and import vehicles. Also known as Multi-Rib belts, the Conti Tech belts are OE-quality in form, fit, and function. They are designed with extended service life intervals and require no re-tensioning.
Conti Tech serpentine belts come in a wide range of sizes and are designed to be oil-resistant and temperature-stable from minus 30 C to 80 C. They are built to deliver 98% power efficiency and feature a lower profile design that easily handles higher engine revs, reduces noise, and provides cooler running temperatures.
Since the late ’90s, auto manufacturers have phased out the use of neoprene belts and now install ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) belts on new models. EPDM is a superior technology with better performance characteristics but, like any wear part, belts made with this material have a limited service life. As EPDM belts age, they rarely show wear symptoms such as cracks and chunk-outs that are typical of neoprene belts.
Along with its industry-wide cooling system maintenance and awareness program, Gates has introduced the Powerclean Flush Tool, which uses a patented pulsating technology, clean water, and compressed air to scrub deeply into cooling system corners and crevices, dislodging more debris and accumulated sludge than a garden hose or evacuation flush.
Gates offers the tool to address the need for a more thorough way to flush radiators, engine blocks, and most importantly, heater cores.
Extensive laboratory testing of coolants and their behaviour on water pumps has shown that improper cooling maintenance adversely impacts the water pump. Cross-contamination of coolant and mixing of coolant chemistry can lead to premature and catastrophic water pump failure.
Testing by the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) as well as Gates research show that water pump surface material loss does take place in the system, and is not limited to the water pump. This material loss is harmful to water pump seals and results in compromised mating seal surfaces. Over time, all metal components in the cooling system can succumb to premature failure.
Whether you are dealing with a customer walking in with a broken belt in his hand or a professional technician on the phone looking for a heater core for a PT Cruiser, by utilizing all the tools made available to you by your suppliers you can ensure your customers will leave satisfied that they received the best advice and the best quality components for their vehicle.
Gates launches Smartphone App for belt wear diagnostics
Using state-of-the-art digital imaging technology in concert with industry-standard specifications for serpentine belts, Gates PIC Gauge utilizes a photograph taken with a Smartphone’s built-in camera, which is then analyzed by patent-pending software to determine the degree of rib wear detected. The analysis returns one of three results: Within Specifications – Green; Wear Detected – Yellow; Replace Belt – Red. Belt wear measurements can be captured from any automotive or heavy-duty K-section serpentine belt.
“One of the easiest and best ways to avoid expensive repairs down the road is to replace a vehicle’s serpentine belt on time,” explains David Miller, vice-president of marketing at Gates. “While the typical customer may not think to have the belt checked, PIC Gauge allows professional technicians and service writers to easily inspect a vehicle’s belt while in the shop for routine maintenance or repair.”