The human body runs on various systems. We have our circulatory system, skeletal system, respiratory system, and so on. We need each system to work properly to remain healthy. Our vehicles are the same. They contain a series of systems that work together to keep it functioning properly. Each system needs to be properly maintained and taken care of.

This is the second in a series of blogs we will be posting about the various vehicle systems and their function. Please also see:


Belts and hoses serve several purposes. They are essential to the cooling, air conditioning and charging systems, as well as the engine. Ignoring the routine replacement intervals of the belts and hoses will result in them wearing down and eventually leaving you stranded.

The most frequently used belts and hoses include:

  • Serpentine belt
  • Heater hoses
  • Lower radiator hose
  • Drive belt (V-belt)
  • Fan belt
  • Upper radiator hose
  • Timing belt

Keep in mind, not all vehicles are created equally. Not every car uses timing belts. Some may only use a serpentine belt for everything, while others may use a combination of V-belts and serpentine belts. Others, still, may only use V-belts.


Each belt and hose serve their own purpose. The timing belt is responsible for keeping the crankshaft and camshaft synchronized to maintain engine timing. The other belts- serpentine, V-belt, and fan belt- all transfer power from the front of the engine to accessories such as the air conditioning, the charging system, and fans. The radiator and heater hoses are responsible for carrying coolant to and from the engine, radiator, and heater core.


Like many other parts, the belts and hoses are susceptible to wear and tear. Eventually, they will need to be replaced. You should be checking the belts and hoses every 3,000 miles or three months.

  • V-belts and serpentine belts- Check for looseness and condition every 3,000 miles. Replace them when they are cracked, frayed, glazed or showing signs of excessive wear, or if it has been three to four years or 40,000 to 50,000 miles.
  • Timing belt– Replace the timing belt per the interval specified in your owner’s manual. This is usually between 60,000 to 90,000 miles.
  • Hoses– Check the hoses over every 3,000 miles when you are checking your belts. Replace them when they are brittle, cracked, leaking, restricted, rusted, or swollen.

Wear and tear of the hoses is most commonly caused by the age of the vehicle, mileage, oil contamination, electrolytic corrosion, failed hose clamps, and belt tension.

Signs that it may be time to replace a belt and/or hose include:

  • Coolant leaks
  • Failing A/C system
  • Overheating engine
  • Smell of burnt rubber
  • Illuminated dash light
  • Squeaking noises coming from under the hood when starting or during operation


To prevent your vehicle from breaking down you should replace your belts and hoses at the aforementioned intervals. Losing a belt could be big trouble for the engine as they are used to turn the water pump, alternator, power steering, and air conditioning compressor. If a belt goes, you may find yourself stuck. Blown hoses could result in overheating, which could lead to further, costlier, engine damage.

When the belts and hoses are serviced, there are a few things that will occur:

  • Hoses will be checked for softening or hardening. If the hose is mushy or rock-hard, it needs to be replaced. They will also be checked for blistering, cracks, leaking, and other visible signs of damage, and will be replaced if needed.
  • When new hoses are installed, new clamps should also be placed.
  • V-belts and serpentine belts will be replaced if they are loose, cracked, frayed, or glazing, or if it has been 40,000 to 50,000 miles since their last replacement.
  • The timing belt will be replaced per interval specified in your vehicle’s owner’s manual.
  • During a belt and hose service, your mechanic may recommend that you replace the tensioner, pulleys or water pump.

If you’re in need of a belt and hose inspection, don’t trust just anyone, trust the experts at Meridian Automotive. Call us at (208) 297-5573 or schedule an appointment online.

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