A blown radiator hose or broken belt won't kill you, but it can certainly strand you in the middle of nowhere. (In these violent times that might just be a matter of life and death!) On some cars a broken timing belt can DESTROY YOUR ENGINE IN AN INSTANT, which will certainly hurt your wallet!
Rubber goes bad with time regardless of mileage. Any car which has over 5 years or 50,000 miles should have every belt and hose replaced.
A hose usually swells, or gets soft or hardened. A hose normally fails next to the hose clamp, and usually on the engine side, because that side gets hotter. A good hose is flexible and free of swelling or cracks. Oil on a belt or hose is bad news: oil dissolves and softens rubber. This is one more reason to keep your engine clean!
Here's more serpentine belt pictures
Before any of these symptoms occur, bad hoses develop cracks, and soft spots. Like all rubber stuff hoses don't like oil, so examine any hoses that have gotten oil on them carefully. If oil is getting on a hose, clean it off. This is one good reason for keeping your engine clean. If a hose has gotten "oily" clean it off and feel it. If it feels softer, or even just different from the rest of the hose, REPLACE IT!
Look at the ends of the hoses, especially the "engine" end. There should be no swelling behind the hose clamp where the hose connects to the motor. This is where a hose often fails.
But the general agreement is that it's not cool to dump it out on the ground.
GREEN, ORANGE, OR RUSTY WATER means an engine coolant leak.
DARK BROWN TO BLACK SPOTS are engine oil leaks
RED TO BROWNISH RED SPOTS are transmission fluid leaks or power steering leaks
NOTE: Front wheel drive vehicles and many others have rubber transmission cooler lines which can go bad: look for cracks and leaks at the connections
RED, AMBER, DARK GREEN spots can be power steering fluid
CLEAR WATER can leak from under a car as normal operaton. The most common is the air conditioner: it can drip out an impressive amount of water. Some body panels on a car have drain holes: rainwater can drain out of them for a few minutes after you park.
One advantage : this way you can open the hood, lay the box across the engine compartment, and look straight down from the spot to locate a leak. The same applies if you have to crawl under the car: the pizza box is your "map" or "x-ray" of the leak location.
You can use this to diagnose a leak on your car: if you "don't know what to sniff for" you can get a sample easily enough:
Engine oil and automatic transmission fluid sample at dipstick tubes
Coolant sample at coolant recovery tank or radiator cap ON COLD ENGINE ONLY!!
Don't break down! Check your belt and hose condition regularly!
Thank you for visiting the ECONOMECHANIX WEB SITE. Please feel free to comment. We also serve the surrounding communities of Alachua, High Springs, Hawthorne, and Newberry! Gainesville has been my home since 1974, and I've loved Gvl and the Gators since I came here in the fall of 1974 to attend the University of Florida. I loved it so much I stayed and opened my car repair business. Originally it was out of the back of a 1963 Chevrolet wagon, but in 1977 a fellow mechanic and I opened an auto repair shop with actual walls, etc. I stayed in the same location for 26 years, and recently moved my operation to property I bought 15 miles east of Gainesville. I am doing most all the repairs myself now, having reduced my overhead from $1500 per month to practically nothing. I do work by appointment only. I mostly work only on my established customers cars, but I will occasionally take on new clients. E-mail me and I will either make arrangements to look at your car, or I will recommend you to someone who will.
George G. Scott, Jr.
ABS: Anti-Lock Brake Systems
ADVANCE: Car ignition timing
ALTERNATORS and Car Battery
BAD CAR DESIGNS
BATTERIES: Auto, Car or Truck
BELTS AND HOSES
BODY AND BUMPER REPAIRS
BRAKE REPAIRS: Car or Truck
Car Washing and Care
CARBURETORS:Car & Truck
CHECK ENGINE LIGHT
CLEANING: Engine Cleaning
CLUTCH REPAIRS: Car & Truck
COMPRESSION: Car Engine
COMPUTER CAR CONTROLS
CV JOINT OR CV AXLES
ELECTRIC WIRING REPAIR
ENGINES: Car & Truck
FILTERS: OIL, AIR, ETC.
FUEL AIR MIXTURE
FUEL INJECTION: Car & Truck
FUEL PUMPS: Car & Truck
GAGES AND "IDIOT LIGHTS"
GASKETS AND SEALS
GLASS: WINDOWS AND WINDSHIELDS
HEADS & HEAD GASKET
HOSES AND BELTS
"IDIOT LIGHTS" AND GAGES
IGNITION TIMING: Car & Truck
AUTO JACKS: lifting cars safely
LEAN "Car runs lean"
LIGHTS: WARNING OR "IDIOT LIGHTS"
Limp Home Mode
NO START: Car Won't Start
OIL: What's right for your car?
OIL LIGHT ON OR GAGE LOW
RADIATORS: Car and Truck
RICH: Car runs rich
SEALS AND GASKETS
SERVICE ENGINE SOON LIGHT
STARTERS: Auto, Truck
TIMING: IGNITION TIMING
TIMING BELT & TIMING CHAIN
WARNING LIGHTS OR "IDIOT LIGHTS"
Car Washing and Care
WATER PUMP REPAIR
WINDOWS AND WINDSHIELDS