You car’s belts and hoses are essential to the cooling, air conditioning and charging systems, and the engine. Don’t take these routine replacement intervals for granted because they can break down and leave you stranded.
The timing belt keeps the crankshaft and camshaft mechanically synchronized to maintain engine timing. Whether serpentine, V-belt or fan belt (the belts on the outside of the engine), they all transmit power from the front of the engine to accessories that need to be driven, such as the air conditioning, the charging system and fans. Radiator and heater hoses carry coolant to and from the engine, radiator and heater core.
Key items that affect the replacement interval for belts and hoses:
Your car’s brake system is its most critical safety system and you should check it immediately if you suspect any problems. A properly operating brake system helps ensure safe vehicle control and operation under a wide variety of conditions.
When you push the brake pedal, the force generates hydraulic pressure in the master cylinder. This pressure flows through the hydraulic lines and hoses to the wheel cylinders and calipers forcing the shoes against the drums (drum brakes) and the pads against the rotors (disc brakes). The resulting friction slows the vehicle and is relative to the amount of force applied at the brake pedal.
Brakes are a normal wear item for any car and eventually they’re going to need replacement. Avoid letting your brakes get to the “metal-to-metal” point which usually means expensive rotor or drum replacement. Factors that affect wear include driving habits and quality of brake pads and shoes.
Your car’s emission system keeps the engine running cleanly and efficiently in all sorts of operating conditions. A steady or flashing warning light on your vehicle dashboard indicates a problem that is currently happening and may require immediate attention. Failure to do so can reduce your gas mileage or cause your vehicle to pollute.
Your car’s emission system controls the emissions, exhaust and pollutants including gasoline vapors escaping from the fuel tank, using an array of sensors, computerized engine controls and the exhaust components. The emission system substantially reduces harmful gases such as carbon monoxide (CO), unburned hydrocarbons (HC) and oxides of nitrogen (Nix). By law it must be maintained in operating condition.
Some factors affecting the emission system include:
The engine cooling system affects your car’s overall dependability and engine longevity. Cooling systems have advanced over the years with new coolant formulations and new radiator designs and materials. If you suspect a problem with your cooling system, you should check it immediately.
The key parts of the cooling system remove heat from the engine and automatic transmission and dissipate heat to the air outside. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine. The coolant absorbs heat and returns it to the radiator where heat is dissipated. The thermostat regulates the coolant temperature to keep it consistent for efficient engine operation.
Factors that affect the replacement of cooling system parts include:
Your car’s exhaust system has come a long way from the old days of exhaust pipes and mufflers. Today, the exhaust system is safety and emissions control rolled into one. Have your car’s exhaust system inspected regularly and check it immediately if you suspect any problems.
The exhaust system routes dangerous exhaust gas from the engine out and away from the car to keep from affecting the occupants. Next, the exhaust system reduces exhaust noise from the engine. The catalytic converter reduces the level of harmful pollutants in the exhaust.
The oxygen sensors mounted in the exhaust system monitor the level of oxygen in the exhaust gases to maintain efficient engine operation and to monitor the converter’s operation.
Maintain a safe car with regular exhaust system checks. Factors that affect replacement requirements include:
Your car’s filters are important to the longevity of your car and interior comfort. Maximize your car investment by replacing filters regularly.
The oil filter traps contaminants allowing the oil to flow through the engine unrestricted. The fuel filter separates harmful contaminants that may cause problems with carburetors or intricate fuel injectors. The air filter traps dirt particles which can cause damage to engine cylinders, walls, pistons and piston rings.
The air filter also plays a role in keeping contaminants off the airflow sensor in fuel-injected cars. The cabin filter helps trap pollen, bacteria and dust that may find their way into a car’s ventilation system.
Filters are normal wear items that require regular checks and replacement. Factors that affect replacement intervals include:
You car’s fuel system works with the rest of the engine control system to deliver the best performance with the lowest emissions. Check your car’s fuel system regularly or immediately if you smell gas or suspect a problem.
The fuel system transfers fuel from the fuel tank and passes it through a fuel filter for straining before it arrives at the injectors. A pressure regulator controls fuel pressure to ensure good engine performance under a variety of speed and load conditions.
Fuel injectors, when activated, spray a metered amount of fuel into the engine. Some vehicles use a return line system to return unused fuel back to the tank.
Intervals for fuel system maintenance may be influenced by:
Lights and wipers play a major role in safe driving. The chances for accidents increase if you can’t see or be seen. Some states have laws that require the headlights to be on with the wipers. If you detect any problems with your car’s lights or wipers have them checked out at once.
The wiper system keeps excessive water, snow or dirt from building up on the windshield and removes them to maintain clear visibility through the windshield. The lighting system provides night time visibility, signals and alerts other drivers, and supplies light for viewing instruments and the vehicle’s interior.
Lights and wipers are normal wear items that require periodic replacement. Factors affecting replacement intervals include:
Your car’s starting and charging systems, and the battery, help ensure dependable vehicle operation whenever you drive your car and in all sorts of driving conditions. Make sure to check these systems regularly.
The battery stores electrical energy and the starter converts that energy into mechanical force to turn the engine for starting. The alternator produces electric current to replace what the starter used during start-up and to support electrical loads when the engine is running.
An ignition module turns the low voltage supply to the ignition coil on and off, and the coil produces the high voltage for the ignition system. This creates a spark at the spark plugs and ignites the air/fuel mixture in the engine. A belt transmits power from the front of the engine to the alternator’s pulley along with other accessories.
Driving habits such as frequent engine on/off cycles will cause more wear on the starter than a simple trip back and forth to work. Other factors include:
The steering and suspension systems are key safety related systems that largely determine your car’s ride and handling. Have these systems checked regularly, at least once a year and usually with a wheel alignment.
The suspension maintains the relationship between the wheels and the frame or unibody. The suspension system interacts with the steering system to provide vehicle control. When working properly, the suspension system helps absorb the energy from road irregularities such as potholes and helps to maintain vehicle stability.
The steering system transmits your input from the steering wheel to the steering gear and other steering components to control the car’s direction.
Over time, steering and suspension components wear out and require replacement. Regular checks are critical to maintain a safe car. Factors that affect wear include:
The transmission works with the engine to provide power to you car’s wheels. Whether automatic or manual, the transmission plays a major role in the overall performance of your car. Make sure to check it at the first sign of problems.
A transmission/transaxle keeps the engine’s output optimally matched to the speed and load conditions. The torque converter, connected to the automatic transmission/transaxle input shaft, connects, multiplies and interrupts the flow of engine torque into the transmission.
Universal and/or Constant Velocity (CV) joints connect to the driveshaft to transmit output power from the transmission to the rear axle on rear wheel drive cars and the front axle on front wheel drive cars. These joints also allow the driveshaft and/or CV shaft to work at an angle.
The several different types of automatic transmission fluid serve multiple purposes: cleans, cools, lubricates, transmits force, transmits pressure, inhibits varnish buildup and continually protects the transmission.
Wear and tear on the transmission can be influenced by: