How often should I replace my belt? Well that depends- fashion accessory or alternator drive belt? The fashion accessory belt probably seasonally unless of course it’s a classic black leather number with a fashionable silver buckle, that one lasts for years.
The alternator belt however is another story. Most vehicles have a rubber “accessory” belt on the front of the engine that drives the alternator, power steering pump and A/C compressor, possibly even the water pump depending on year make and model. If your drive belt (sometimes called a serpentine belt) breaks it will render your car un-drivable. The A/C compressor will not be able to run (this of course means it must be August. The power steering pump cannot operate- which means no power steering assist (this of course means you are on a curvy mountain road). The alternator cannot charge the battery and the water pump cannot circulate coolant through the engine (this of course means you are in the middle of nowhere). So don’t let this happen to you. Manufacturers recommended replacement mileage varies but if your car has more than 50k- have it inspected by your repair shop at each service visit.
So how does the technician determine when to replace the belt? Today’s modern belts are made from ethylene propylene diene monomer (WHAT?). This is a synthetic rubber that typically lasts longer than the older types of engine belts. A professional technician will be able to determine if the belts are in good shape or if it is worn and the grooves hidden on the underside of the belt have worn too wide or deep. Worn belts will cause the belt to slip on the pulleys that drive the accessories in turn causing reduced performance or failure of those accessories. The belt also must be under proper tension, most newer cars have an automatic belt tensioner that does not need to be adjusted. Manufacturers design the tensioner and belt as a system so they “wear” at the same rate. Often drive belts are replaced as a kit with a new tensioner and hardware. It’s also a good idea to replace an old drive belt when an alternator or any other accessory component driven by the belt is replaced. At Mike’s KARS we take a peek at your drive belt every time you stop in for any service so you don’t have to worry about a break down in August, on a curvy mountain road or in the middle of nowhere.
Spring cleaning can look different in the automotive world. Many times customers come in with a complaint about their car and we open the hood to find what we call a critter condo. Many rodents find the warmth and protection of a car a great place to build a nest.
The most common problem caused by rodents is wiring issues. Electrical issues are hard enough to diagnose without the help of rodents. Most rodents are small and can get into tight spaces that a technician can’t see making it even more difficult to find the problem. We have even seen a few cases where the rodents have chewed hoses and wires on top of the gas tank – twice in the same vehicle. Volvo fuel hoses must be very tasty.
Another favorite item found in cars for rodents are air filters and even the insulation in your car. They chew this up and make their own nest. But don’t worry they don’t always chew up your car. Sometimes they build their nest with leaves and other items found outside your car.
Along with the nest we often find a storage location for their winter food. A prime spot for food storage is the air box. We have found lots of acorns and dog food clogging up the air system of many cars. So if you see signs of rodents in or around your car or there is an unpleasant odor coming in through your air vents it would be a good idea to pop the hood and take a look. You may be surprised at what you find.
Spring weather is finally here in Pennsylvania and we are even feeling the heat enough to want to turn on the car’s air conditioning. But what’s wrong if the AC isn’t blowing cold air? There are several things that could be wrong and causing the problem. Below are a few possibilities:
AC System Needs Recharged: This is the most common reason the AC is blowing warm air. The system could be low on freon (the chemical that cools the air) and the freon level needs to be corrected for it to operate correctly. The proper way to check for the correct amount of Freon is with a charging machine which removes the remaining Freon in the system and then recharges it with the correct amount. This is commonly referred to as an evacuate and recharge of the AC system. Freon leaks can be very slow but if you recharge the system and lose the cold air within a few weeks, further diagnosis will be needed to determine the location of the leak. A special dye can be added to the system to help quickly locate the leak.
AC Compressor May Not Engage: This could be caused by an electrical issue in the compressor itself or it may not be engaging because the Freon level is too low. In many cars the system is computer controlled so if the computer senses a problem it may turn the system off and not allow the compressor to engage.
Blend Door for Air/Heat is Stuck: There is a small door in the car’s AC/heating system that changes position when you switch between air conditioning and heating. If this door gets stuck in one position it may be necessary to remove part of the dash to make the repair.
Air is Cold but Not Blowing: This could be caused by a faulty switch that turns the blower fan on or the problem could be in the fan unit itself.
Today’s AC systems are complicated and although some repairs can be easy some can also be very difficult. If you are having an issue with your car’s air conditioning just give us a call and we would be happy to cool you down!