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Signs of Impending Belt Failure?

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Old 24 Aug 2019, 08:41 pm
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Join Date: Mar 2015
Location: Liberty MO
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Default Signs of Impending Belt Failure?

My other post moments ago got me thinking if there might be signs of impending belt failure.

That post mentioned a frayed edge on the near/block side. Regardless the cause...

It seems that edge fraying will in short order cause a belt to fail.

It also seems that belt edge contact might be audible.

Are there other known/common signs?

Bob in Liberty, MO
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Old 25 Aug 2019, 05:50 am
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Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: southeastern PA
Posts: 370
Default Re: Signs of Impending Belt Failure?

I've got the same concern as my current timing belt has about 80k miles. I saw a video on checking them, so I thought I'd give it a try.

My PT had some other issues, the engine alignment was off about 1/8" and I wanted to replace the power steering reservoir, so it seemed like a good idea to add timing belt inspection into the mix.

From the video, he mentioned looking for usual signs of aging, cracks in the rubber. He also mentioned checking the tension, as a loose belt could skip a tooth.

Running true would also be important. If the belt wasn't running true and was rubbing, it could cause obvious problems with belt fraying and wearing something where it's rubbing. I suspect the rubbing could cause another problem, frictional heating of the belt. That could accelerate belt fatigue, causing failure.

Belts in general have a fatigue life. It depends on how tortuous a path they take (small pulley = very bad) and how many cycles they run. Some of the earlier cars with timing belts would pop them at 50-60k miles. These days the timing belts seem to have a reasonably long life.

Just some thoughts.
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Old 25 Aug 2019, 01:50 pm
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Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Abbotsford, British Columbia.
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Default Re: Signs of Impending Belt Failure?

Here's some simple guidelines from what I know as a mechanic.

1) age. Over 5 years, rubber breaks down with oxidation and furthermore it can be accelerated with oil contamination, ozone, UV rays, and heat extremes. replace within manufacturer's mileage or number of years

2) cracks on the inside of belt ribs. if you see more than 3 cracks per inch time to replace it. once the belt is removed and flex it to expose the ribs, you may even see more cracks

3) unknown service history. if it doesn't look new, you dont know when it was replaced last, do it and document when it's next to be replaced.

4) when replacing accessory belts, always replace idler pulleys and tensioners at the same time. If you skimp and don't do this step, the worn out pulleys and tensioners will break the belt off or distort it within 8 hours or so of driving.
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