of the Month
Perhaps the most critical engine component these days is the timing belt.
Not all engines use a timing belt, but on those that do, it's critical
that it be replaced before it breaks. At some point the belt breaks and,
if your car has an interference engine where the valves and pistons occupy
the same place in the combustion chamber at different times, serious engine
damage can occur. If your car has a non-interference engine, the worst
that will happen is you get stranded somewhere. Most manufacturers suggest
replacing the timing belt every 60,000 miles. Other engine drive belts
should be checked on a regular basis (about as often as you change oil).
In general, you should be on the lookout for excessively cracked, glazed
or frayed belts. Many accessories including the alternator, power steering
pump and coolant pump are operated by drive belts. If these belts break
or slip, the components they drive will fail to work, and that can leave
you stranded. One more thing to check while youre looking at the
belts is the battery. Virtually all batteries are maintenance-free these
days, except for a periodic terminal cleaning and inspection for cracks
or leaks. Also, make sure the battery is mounted securely.
Today's cars also run hotter than they used to. With the trend to downsize
vehicle components to save space and weight, cooling system components
are being asked to do more than their older counterparts. The best thing
you can do to maintain the cooling system at peak efficiency during the
life of your car is to replace the coolant according to the manufacturers
recommendations. Although some of the newer coolants last longer, anti-freeze
does wear out. By replacing the coolant periodically, you insure that
the corrosion inhibitors are fresh and are helping to eliminate the scale
and corrosion that builds up inside the cooling system.
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