Replacing these small engine parts could save you thousands 

Last week a customer had their vehicle towed to our shop because the car lost power while on the freeway.  Pretty scary! This same customer was previously advised to have his belts replaced sooner than later. He chose later and had to have his entire engine replaced!  I had a similar occurrence with an old Mercedes I owned. I was driving 70MPH on the freeway when suddenly all of the dash lights came on and 5 seconds later, I heard a loud clunk and could see debris flying all over the freeway behind me through my rearview mirror.  At that point, all dash lights were off and my car lost all power. Luckily my car slowly drifted to the right shoulder of the freeway and stopped directly in front of a call box. I called highway patrol and they dispatched a tow truck to my location. When the CHP officer and tow truck driver arrived, they popped open the hood and their mouths dropped open.  There was nothing under the hood. The engine completely dropped out of the car. That was the debree I saw on the road behind me!

Keep in mind this was an older car and I knew some things needed replacement.  The most important things needing replacement being the timing belt and mounting brackets.  At that point, my repairs would only have been in the hundreds. Once the engine was gone, I was facing thousands to put in a new engine.  I thought I had more time. Clearly I was mistaken.

Why are engine belts are so important to replace?

Engine belts are one of the most critical moving parts in your engine.  These belts drive the alternator, water pump, power steering pump as well as other functions for the engine to properly work.  If any of these belts break, your car may not start or come to a halt. Especially if it is the timing belt. When the serpentine belt breaks, you may be able to drive, but only temporarily.  Older vehicles may have 4 or 5 belts that need replacement while most newer cars usually have two major belts.

Serpentine Belt


V BELTS- Typically found on older cars, which have a number of other belts that operate different engine parts separately.


  • Purpose: The serpentine belt is to drive peripheral parts of the engine such as the alternator, air conditioning compressor, air pump and more. When the serpentine belt breaks, it can cause the other drive accessories to stop operating which will lead to overheating.  The vehicle may be able to start once this belt is broken but it will not drive for long as the alternator will not be able to function, drawing power from the electrical system and the battery will eventually die.

  • Symptoms: Most serpentine belts can last anywhere from 100,000 to 150,000 miles. Check you owner manual to find the replacement recommendation for your specific vehicle.  One warning sign is a squealing noise when you start the engine, or accelerate. You may also hear rattling noises from the pulleys and tensioner.

  • Average repair cost can be anywhere from $75 to $250 and more.  

  • Average repair time is 45 minutes to 1 ½  hours.


  • Purpose: The timing belt connects the engines camshafts with its crankshafts and helps synchronize their timing.  Some vehicles have timing chains instead of belts. Be sure to know which your vehicle has as it will make a difference in the repair maintenance and cost. Some vehicles recommend replacing the timing belt up to 150,000 miles.  It is always best to check the owner manual for your vehicle service recommendations.

  • Symptoms: Are different than other belts because they have small teeth on the underside and it is virtually impossible to visually determine when a timing belt needs replacement.  A whirling, squealing or grinding sound when the car is idling may be an indication that something is wrong. It will normally just give out after it’s ran enough miles or will not start.

  • Average repair cost: is more time and labor intensive.  Depending on the type of vehicle you have, it can run anywhere from $500 to over a $1,000.00. In some vehicles the pistons continue to move up and down after the timing belt breaks which may hit and bend valves because they have lost their timing mechanism. This damage can cost $3,000.00 or more.

  • Average repair time: a quick job can be 3-4 hours.  A thorough job (checking and cleaning components around and related to) can be 6-8 hours.

Why are Hoses so import

According to most vehicles with internal combustion engines have heating and cooling hoses.  The purpose of hoses are to deliver coolant from the engine to the heater core while cooling hoses are made to withstand the heat and chemical exposure of the engine’s coolant.  Over time, these hoses begin to wear and crack creating leaks that can damage your radiator and engine.

  • Symptoms:  The usual symptoms of dried out, worn and/or cracked hoses is coolant leaks and engine overheating.  A visual inspection can usually reveal when hoses are dried out and cracked. Also, check to see if your coolant resevoir is low or find residue on the engine.  You can also squeeze some of the hoses to see if they feel weak or are loose. Most vehicles hoses need replacement within 4-5 years. Be sure to have your mechanic check your hoses during regular maintenance inspections and flush the coolant as the owner manual recommends.

  • Average repair cost: The cost will depend on the type of vehicle you own.  Most vehicle hose repair can vary from $75 to $200.

  • Average repair time:  Replacement time can be 1- 1 ½ hours.

In conclusion, be sure to have your belts and hoses inspected as per the manufacturer recommendations.  This will give you the time to shop around for the best repair cost if it is coming close to the time to replacement.  Otherwise, you may find yourself in a desperate place to get the repair done wherever your car can be towed to. Even worse, the entire engine needs to be replaced costing thousands verses the few hundred you would have spent for a simple belt or hose replacement!

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