Maintaining your car isn't just about keeping it running. It's also about saving money. By performing routine maintenance on your car, you can avoid nasty failures that typically cost far more to repair than prevent.
With preventative maintenance, your goal is to fix things that aren't yet broken. Instead of waiting for common failure points to fail, you replace them in a way that's predictable and helps you avoid catastrophic failures. In the case of your car's belts, there are several good reasons why you shouldn't wait for them to stop working before you schedule a replacement.
What Do Your Belts Do?
You might be wondering why your car may have several belts. These components help to transfer power from your engine to vital accessories. You may have heard the term "belt-driven" before, and that refers specifically to these components. Each belt-driven accessory connects back to your engine's crankshaft via a belt and a series of pulleys.
If your car has a timing belt, it has a slightly different role to play. Your camshaft controls the valves that pull air into your engine and let combustion gases out, but it needs to rotate at a specific rate. The timing belt links the camshaft and crankshaft, allowing these valves to open and close at just the right time. Note that some cars may use timing chains instead of timing belts.
Both types of belts use durable, heavy-duty rubber. Although this material can last for tens of thousands of miles, it will eventually wear out. Worn belts can slip, limiting their ability to transfer power and potentially causing accessories to stop working. A bad timing belt can cause your engine to run poorly, and one that fails can cause significantly more damage.
Why Shouldn't You Wait for Failure?
A failing accessory belt can cause numerous problems. Many vehicles use belt-driven water pumps or alternators, and a slipping belt can prevent them from operating correctly. If your alternator stops working, it can leave you stranded on the side of the road. Even worse, a water pump that can't get enough power may lead to an overheating engine and severe damage.
If you have an interference engine, a snapped timing belt is even more disastrous. With these designs, a mistimed valve can open directly into the path of a piston, essentially destroying your car's engine. Although timing belt replacements aren't necessarily cheap, this type of catastrophic failure can cost thousands of dollars in damage.
Although you may not want to replace parts that still work, both your accessory and timing belts are necessary preventative maintenance items. Replacing your belts before they begin to wear too much can save you considerable amounts of money while saving you from a breakdown on the side of the road. To learn more, contact a company like Gregs Japanese Auto Parts and Service.