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Belt drive - Tips on check-up, common defects and replacement

Drive belts are transmission means for torques and are inexpensive, reliable and easy to install. Wherever a rotating component must power another rotating component, the use of a belt is a low-cost solution. But it depends whether only a torque must be transmitted or also a timing.

What drive belts do cars have?

The drive belt serves two functions: One is transmitting torques and the other, optional, is transferring timing. The types of belts used at transmitting torques only are Flat or V-belts. These belts are found in the alternator or in the water pump. A timing belt is installed between the crankshaft and camshaft, and the timing belt must be assembled extremely meticulously.

What is a drive belt?

A drive belt consists of three components: The driving shaft produces the force that is transmitted to the torque. The belt itself is made of a loop which in turn is made of a mixture of GFK and rubber. The drive belts finally a further shaft, which is connected to a major component.

Where are belts located in a vehicle?

The entire power of the vehicle comes from the engine. The engine drives the alternator with the help of a pulley, which in turn provides all electricity in the vehicle. Depending on the design of the motor, another belt can drive the water pump. The servo pump is another component that can be driven via a belt. Similarly, there are brake boosters, which are powered by a belt-driven vacuum pump. The exact angle of rotation of the pulley is unimportant at all of these auxiliary units. The drive belt on any of those aggregates is as a rule easily accessible and simple to replace. A defective drive belt manifests itself through a loud squeak.

Defects at the drive belt

If defects are ignored long enough, the belt can break and no longer drive the connected aggregate. In the case of the alternator, you notice nothing at first except for the lights of the charging indicator. After a few kilometers, however, your vehicle will stop as the battery was no longer charged. When the servo pump fails, the steering and brakes become suddenly difficult to operate. Should the water pump stop, it leads to very fast engine overheating and in the worst case to irreparable engine damage.

The weak points of a drive belt: The timing belt

The timing belt drives the camshaft and is itself driven by the crankshaft. The position between the pistons, which are connected with the crankshaft, and the valves, which are controlled through the camshaft, must always be precise. An engine with wrongly set clearance either does not work at all or it self-destructs itself after a few revolutions. This happens when the rising piston strikes on an open valve. The valve bents and the piston gets pierced. In most cases, it is not worth to pay for a repair. It is especially fatal when the timing belt - also called cambelt - rips while driving. This also leads in most cases to an an immediate, internal destruction of the engine.
Unlike with V-ribbed belts, you cannot notice when a timing belt needs a replacement. Therefor, the only way to prevent an engine damage is to replace the timing belt in time. The replacement intervals are dictated by the mileage and / or the prescribed lifespan of the timing belt. If you buy a used car without inspection log for example, and you are unsure of the timing belt replacement date, it is strongly recommended that you replace it out of precaution. Ideally, you can undergo a large inspection in which you also replace the oil and all filters and spark plugs. When replacing the timing belt you should also always replace all the associated components such as seals, idlers and possibly the water pump.

All belts from AutopartsPro

You will find in our Online Shop all the belts that are installed in your car. Our products convince through excellent quality at an affordable price. The catalog contains all the timing belts that are available in our store. At AutopartsPro.co.uk you will get all the v-ribbed belts that your car needs at the lowest cost.

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