It is undeniable that the automotive industry has gone a long way since vehicles were first introduced in the market. About a century ago, vehicles were equipped with leather engine belts which easily wear out or snap under heat. Eventually, these leather belts were replaced by two rubber belts—the alternator belt and the fan belt. In this article, we will discuss the important role that fan belts play in keeping your engine performing at its best.
What is a Fan Belt?
A fan belt is one of the essential car parts that need regular maintenance. It is a flexible rubber belt that puts together certain engine components. It connects the crankshaft pulley and the alternator to the engine cooling fan.
Belts are also essential in other power components, including the air conditioner compressor, the water pump and the power steering pump. If you bought an older Japanese used car, you may discover that it has several belts operating various parts of the engine. On the other hand, if you purchased a newer model from a Japan car auction, its engine components use a single belt, called a serpentine belt.
Is my Fan Belt Healthy or Damaged?
If you do not spend a lot of time tinkering under the hood of your car, you may have no idea what a healthy belt looks like. Whether your vehicle uses an older V-belt in a two-belt system or a modern, multi-purpose belt, you will learn that most belts come in black. These belts can have grooved sides or they may have one smooth surface.
You know that your belt is in good condition if the grooved rubber and the smooth-sided rubber are free of cracks. Cracks indicate old age and dry rot. Eventually, your cracked belts will break, stranding you in the middle of your drive.
Aside from that, there should be no frays around the edges of your belts. Such condition is an indication that the belt is incorrectly tracking across the pulleys. A frayed belt can snap at any time. Finally, you should check whether there are missing grooves, ensuring that they are uniform in spacing and size. If you find any of these issues, it is time to bring your vehicle to a service center for belt replacement.
Caring for your Engine Belts
Modern V-belts are designed to perform well up to 100,000 km. Depending on the weather conditions you live in, some belts may even last longer. If you drive your car in a dry and hot climate, remember to park your car in a shaded area. Keep your vehicle away from direct sunlight and park it in a garage or under a tree. Whenever you’re conducting maintenance procedures, make sure that you avoid spilling any coolant or oil on the belts to avoid damage and slipping.
Also, remember to remove debris from the pulleys. As we’ve mentioned, the lifespan of your fan belts depends on the climate you live in. It is also advisable to avoid overheating your engine to keep your belts in good shape. Your best bet is to inspect your belts at least once a month and watch out for signs that indicate wearing or damages. Keep in mind that the belts are essential in keeping your engine running. So, it is essential that you keep them in good condition. If there are damages, consult an expert technician and ask them if a belt replacement is necessary.
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