Check Hoses and Belts

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Check Hoses and Belts

If a hose breaks or a belt snaps, your car may overheat.

Jim Naughten/Stone+/Getty Images

The key to summer driving is keeping the engine cool. We're going to talk about the radiator and coolant soon, but first you need to check the hoses and belts. The hoses connected to the radiator help pump coolant to and from the engine block, and the belts run the fan that helps cool the system further [source: CBS News]. If the hoses crack or the belts snap, the radiator will quickly overheat, leaving you stranded.

Check hoses for cracks, leaks and loose connections. Hoses should be firm, never soft and malleable. Hoses suffer from a slow deterioration process called electrochemical degradation (ECD) that eats away at rubber hose material from the inside [source: Consumer Reports]. The most vulnerable parts of the hose are those nearest to clamps where the hose connects to the radiator or the engine.

Belts can also be visually checked for cracks and damage. Take note if the belt looks excessively slick or smooth. Remove the belt to make sure that the material hasn't started separating into different layers. Experts say the risk of belt failure rises dramatically after 36,000 miles (57,936 kilometers) [source: Consumer Reports].

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