Gates discusses serpentine belt diagnostics

Jan. 1, 2020
At least one in five vehicles requires a new belt, according to the Car Care Council. And with more than 240 million vehicles on the road, that leaves plenty of opportunity for sales in the repair bay.

At least one in five vehicles requires a new belt, according to the Car Care Council. And with more than 240 million vehicles on the road, that leaves plenty of opportunity for sales in the repair bay.

Gates was on-hand at an educational session during the International Autobody Congress & Exposition (NACE) and the Congress of Automotive Repair & Service (CARS) to provide an overview of EPDM belts, which will rarely show the symptoms cracks and “chunk-outs,” even at high mileage.

Unlike neoprene belts, which give out at 50,000 to 60,000 miles, EPDM belts can last up to 100,000 miles, according to Gates.

These belts can exhibit problems that are caused by errors in the accessory drive, like tensioner misalignment and failure, pulley misalignment and excessive heat or bearing failure.

The ribs in the belt may not become shorter, but material lost in the valleys of the ribs can make the space between them wider. And when the pulleys ride deeper into the valleys, slipping, excessive noise and hydroplaning can occur, the company adds.

Other symptoms of a worn belt can be misalignment, cracking, glazing and/or piling, as well as loss of traction and elongation. In fact, belt slip can cause temperatures to rise by up to 50 percent.

Gates recommends that techs recommend replacing serpentine belts when making an accessory drive repair, which means the labor is basically free for the customer.

Serpentine belt replacement should also be sold as preventive maintenance after 65,000 miles of service on the belt, Gates adds.

For more information, visit www.gatesbeltwear.com.