A drive belt drives the accessories installed on your engine such as the alternator, power steering pump, water pump and the air conditioner compressor. Most modern cars have one or two drive belts. If there is only one drive belt, it might also be called a "serpentine belt."
Although it's made of a very durable rubber-based material, the drive belt still wears over time. On average, a drive belt lasts for 45,000-75,000 miles or 3-5 years. A worn-out drive belt may cause squeaking or chirping noises and a badly-worn drive belt can break. If the drive belt breaks, your car won't be driveable. If the engine runs without a drive belt, it might overheat as the water pump will stop circulating antifreeze (cooling fluid) through the radiator to cool the engine down. The battery light might come on on the dash because the alternator will stop charging the battery. A car with a hydraulic power steering will also lose the steering assist, so the steering will become very stiff.
When a drive belt needs to be replaced
Most car manufacturers don't specify the drive belt replacement intervals, but rather recommend inspecting it during regular services once your vehicle reaches a certain mileage. For example, this is what Toyota recommends for the 2012 Toyota Camry drive belts:
Initial inspection at 60,000 miles/72 months. Inspect every 15,000 miles/18 months thereafter.
Your mechanic will look for cracks, splits, damaged edges, missing chunks, glazing and other signs of wear. Usually it's fairly easy to see when the belt is worn out. A worn-out belt must be replaced. A drive belt must also be replaced if it is found to be soaked in oil, or stretched. If your car has two drive belts, both are usually replaced at the same time. It's also a good idea to replace an old drive belt before a long road trip. Read more: Car checklist before a long trip. Replacing a drive belt is not very expensive; $80-$315 depending on the vehicle.
To work properly, a drive belt must be under proper tension. In older cars, belt tension had to be adjusted manually, see the photo. Typically, you would hear a loud screeching noise when the engine is started if the drive belt is loose. In cars with manual adjustment, the belt tension must be checked during regular services and adjusted as necessary.
Today, most cars are equipped with maintenance-free spring-loaded (in the photo) or hydraulic belt tensioners. It's not necessary to replace a belt tensioner whenever a drive belt is replaced. A drive belt tensioner must be replaced only if it is failed. For example, a tensioner could be seized or the tensioner bearing could be noisy. Sometimes a seized belt tensioner may even cause the serpentine belt to slip out. A failed hydraulic belt tensioner often produces a rattling noise. If you suspect that your drive belt tensioner has failed, your mechanic can check if the tensioner works properly. In most cases, a belt tensioner is fairly easy to replace and not very expensive.
A number of factors can cause a drive belt to wear prematurely. For example, in this car, in the photo, a drive belt needed to be replaced every three months. Upon closer inspection, we found that the alternator was installed improperly, under angle. Click on the photo to see the larger image. This caused the alternator pulley to be misaligned with the belt, so the belt was wearing out faster.
A damaged or missing engine undershield can also cause a drive belt to wear faster. An undershield protects the belt from dirt, sand and water. If the undershield is missing, water and small rocks can get under the belt and wear it faster. Improper tension, oil and coolant leaks can also cause the drive belt to wear faster.
A: You always can ask your mechanic to show you why the belt needs to be replaced; usually when you compare an old and new belt, it's easy to see. Another thing, look at the mileage, when have you had your drive belt(s) done last time? If it's more than 40,000 miles or 3-4 years ago, it is safe to say that your belt will have some signs of wear and tear.
A: First, you'd have to have more than basic mechanical skills, proper tools and the belt diagram. In many front-wheel drive cars with a transversely-mounted engine, the space between the engine and the frame is very limited. To gain access to the drive belt, you might have to jack up the car, take the front wheel out and remove the engine side cover. In some cars it's easy to release the tensioner; in others it might be very tricky. In many cases a special tool is needed to release the belt tensioner. Often, when replacing a belt, you might find out that the tensioner is seized or the belt that you got doesn't fit, so be prepared to visit your parts store again. All in all, we would recommend getting the quote from a local repair shop or your dealer first. If you think it's still worth a try, start by finding the correct repair procedure with pictures or a how-to video that explains how to do it for your car make and model.
A: No, a "cam belt" is another name for a timing belt, which is the one that drives engine camshafts. A timing belt has teeth on one side and is hidden under the covers, while a drive belt is visible from the outside. Read more about the timing belt.
A: If you said that the noise started after the alternator has been replaced, we would recommend to recheck the alternator installation. The noise you described could happen when the belt pulleys are not aligned properly. Maybe the alternator was not installed correctly or the belt pulley on the alternator is not seated properly.
A: It could be a failing belt tensioner which was a fairly common problem in this car. Have it checked out.
Nitrogen oxides are formed at very high combustion temperatures. The EGR system re-routes a part of the exhaust gases back into the intake manifold, diluting the air/fuel mixture. As the exhaust gases are not combustible, mixing them with the air/fuel charge reduces the combustion temperature. The EGR flow is controlled by the EGR valve, that is operated by the engine computer. The EGR valve is closed at idle, or during hard acceleration. The EGR valve opens during steady cruising speed. The EGR system problems are very common. When the EGR system doesn't function properly, the vehicle may have variety of driveability issues as well as the "Check Engine" light illuminated on the dash.
Your exhaust system is more than a muffler. It is a series of pipes that run under your car, connected to your muffler and catalytic converter. The main function of your exhaust system is to control noise and to funnel exhaust fumes away from passengers.
In some ways, a car's exhaust system works like a chimney on your house, directing the byproducts from burning fuel away from the people inside. A car's exhaust system routes waste gases from the engine to the rear of the car, where they are discharged into the atmosphere. Exhaust gases contain dangerous substances such as carbon monoxide, which can be hazardous if allowed to flow into the passenger housing of the car.
The exhaust system also converts pollutants into less harmful byproducts, reduces the noise of the engine, and directs exhaust gases so they can be used to heat air and fuel before they go into the engine's cylinders to be burned. Finally, the exhaust system provides just the right amount of backpressure into the engine to improve its fuel-burning efficiency and increase performance. Key components of your exhaust system include:
Designed specifically for each car model to properly route exhaust to the back of the car.
Acts like a funnel, collecting exhaust gases from all cylinders and releasing it through a single opening. Some engines have two.
Designed to reduce the amount of harmful emissions products by transforming pollutants into water vapor and less harmful gases.
Metal container with holes, baffles, and chambers that muffles exhaust noise.
Works with the muffler to reduce noise.
Found at the back of the car, the tail pipe is designed to carry exhaust gases away from the vehicle
All components of the exhaust system are connected with a series of clamps, hangers, flanges, and gaskets.