How to Check Belts

by Contributor

A broken belt is painful to the wallet; get in the habit of scoping yours out from time to time, and have all the belts changed at 60,000 miles. There should be no extra labor charge if you ask your mechanic to change them when the timing belt is replaced at 60,000 miles.

Turn off the engine.

Pull the hood release lever under the dashboard.

Walk around to the front of the car, reach under the hood, find the latch and squeeze it. As you squeeze the latch, open the hood.

Find the belts located on the very front of the engine. On a front-wheel-drive car, the front of the engine is usually adjacent to the fender; on a rear-wheel-drive car, the front of the engine is adjacent to the radiator and the front bumper.

Note that there will be 2 or more belts, depending on the car. Belts are used to operate the fan, water pump, alternator, air conditioner, power steering pump and smog pump.

Press lightly with your thumb on each belt at the belt's longest part between pulleys.

Check the appropriate tension for your belts in your car's manual. Belts should not have more than 1 inch of "give" in either direction.

Observe the belt as you press on it. If it's cracked or can be easily pushed more than 1 inch, it most likely needs to be replaced.


  • check Let the engine cool before checking the belts, and be careful around hot engine parts.
  • check Some belts run more smoothly after being sprayed with "belt dressing."
  • check If your belts make a horrible shrieking sound when you press on the gas pedal, they are too loose, and probably need to be tightened or replaced.

Items you will need

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