Automotive Maintenance-Understanding the Drive Belts on your Vehicle

Posted by on April 12, 2012 | No Comments

The shafts in an automobile engine are driven to the motion of a rotary by using a series of pulleys connected by belts. Various accessories mounted to the engine are powered through the use of this rotary motion. Accessories such as pumps, exhaust facs and air compressors are crucial to the operation of the vehicle.

Types of belts:

V-belts are designed to provide high-traction power and to fit into a Vee shaped groove. Belts that have many Vee-shaped grooves on the inside and are flat on the outside are called Poly-V belts. These belts provide high-traction type of power. A drive belt that is similar to these V-belts but are open-ended belts that do not require meal clamps are called V-Link belts. Although V-Link belts only carry a small load and can be quite expensive, they are used at times when other alternatives will not reach or fit.

Flat belts are much lighter in weight and function better at high speeds. However they do tend to slip as they do not have a lot of traction. The Timing belt is one of the most important belts and is quite different to other types. It does not require friction to function, nor does it it have teeth. It also has a much smaller power capacity in comparison with other belts.

What do drive belts do?

The purpose of drive belts is to drive a variety of external parts of the engine. Even though these belts are very inexpensive, they have the ability to put a stop to a functioning vehicle if they break. In simple terms, if there is no belt to drive a part of the engine, that part will no longer function. One of the many accessories to rely on a drive belt is the water pump. The water pump is designed to circulates water through the vehicle’s system, thus keeping it cool. If the water pump stops working, which happens instantly when the drive belt breaks, it takes only a short time for the engine to overheat. Although a broken drive belt is a large problem, a broken serpentine belt can be an even larger one. The serpentine belt drives multiple components at once, so if this belt breaks then multiple functions are compromised.

What makes drive belts break?

These belts are made of rubber and are not very expensive. Wear and tear is a normal part of use. Over time the rubber of the drive belt may harden, dry out, or even crack. This compromises the strength of the belt and causes it to break.

Are drive belts easy to replace?

In some cases, a basic understanding on the engine and its peripheral components is all that is needed to replace a drive belt. Serpentine belts, however, are more complicated. It may be best to let a mechanic replace these. Most professional mechanics recommend that the serpentine belt be changed every thirty-five thousand miles. These belts can last up to sixty thousand miles as can the timing belts.

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