Belt, Tensioner, Damper & Pulley
Service the Complete System.
Professional Auto Care replaced the belt pictured below 20,000 miles ago. Why does it look so cracked? Time. Time is a silent killer. This vehicle gets driven maybe a few thousand miles per year. The belt was now seven years old. So despite not reaching the mileage requirement for a new belt, it had reached the time required for inspection and possible service.
A belt in this state could snap. When a belt snaps, there could be irrevocable consequences. The driver could immediately lose power steering and steering assist, making it very difficult to turn the steering wheel. The alternator would stop charging, and the water pump stops circulating coolant, leading to vehicle overheating.
Luckily, PAC will be replacing it before the driver would experience the above description. But we won't only be replacing the belt this time, but the tensioner and pulley as well. A belt tensioner doesn't necessarily have an expiration date, but a good rule of thumb would be to do every other service or if you're changing the belt for the first time and have 100,000 miles (or more), replace it. The tensioner bearings are packed with grease and wear over time. There are also plastic components that wear over time and with usage. The slack on the belt caused by the faulty tensioner can damage other parts the belt runs, for example, the alternator.
It is essential to look at whole vehicle systems versus part by part basis. The quick, easy, and cheaper route would replace the belt only for the second time. But the client still needs to be given the options and weigh all the facts before making a decision.
The vehicle does not get driven many miles per year, meaning wear and tear is harder on the car.*
A bad tensioner could damage other vehicle systems.
A failed tensioner could be as bad as a broken belt.
What is the plan for this car? Are we going to continue to keep the car as the "fun" weekend car?
*Many vehicle manufacturers determine this to be severe maintenance. And many luxury and exotic vehicles recommend maintenance regardless of mileage driven.
Taking a closer look at the belt tensioner, damper, and pulley, the client made a wise decision to go ahead and replace both.