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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

When it comes to belts and travel, it isn't always as easy as packing a spare | Hagerty Media

I write a lot about the things most likely to strand you on a road trip-the so-called "Big Seven," which includes ignition, fuel delivery, cooling system, charging system, belts, clutch hydraulics, and ball joints. Next to the others, belts might seem trivial-I mean, if you just carry a spare, you're all set, right?
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/the-hack-mechanic/when-it-comes-to-belts-and-travel-it-isnt-al...
22 REPLIES 22
Al
Intermediate Driver

Don't forget the v belts on your boat. The typical 3.0 Merc or OMC requires the motor mounts unbolted and the engine jacked up to change the belts. Might be hard to do out on the water
Rob1
Instructor

@Al on our olde tub which is a family hand down and a very clean 1973 starcraft runabout with the dead reliable GM 6 banger I zap strapped a second spare belt down and around the front motor mount out of harms way.R

Gpopp
Pit Crew

Back in 1968, I brought a TR3 home by using the wife's panty hose to replace the fan belt. That taught me never leave home without a spare.
Spuds
Advanced Driver

Its also a good excuse for why you are wearing panty hose....just sayin' LOL!
Punk
Detailer

But a spare what! LOL
thehackmechanic
Detailer

Without a spare wife?
RickL
Intermediate Driver

I have five different cars from 4 different decades and the easiest to change is my 1984 Mustang 20th anniversary model (serpentine) that is real simple. My 1987 MB 560SL has five (5) V-belts to change and would be a challenge to do on the side of the road, but not impossible. My 2001 Acura CL-S (serpentine drives alt. etc) is fairly easy, although it has another serpentine that you have to replace that is a little strange on what you have to disconnect, 1990 Mazda pickup has multi V-belts just go slow and isn't too bad. Finally my 2012 RDX is a serpentine belt and that is not too bad either. I used to carry extra belts but now just look to replace as maintenance and will rely on Hagerty to tow me home if they break on the road.
Spuds
Advanced Driver

I agree,replace those belts,they are cheap enough that there is no need to push em to failure.Timing belt vrs costs,not cheap,but blowing up the engine is not cheaper thats for sure.I cant do mine but I do have the money allocated for it when its due again.
kareski
Pit Crew

When I worked at a gas station in the 60's as a young pup I would always get the dirty job of replacing the broken belt. I think the head mechanic and owner would be laughing in the background when they assigned me the job. Usually the job was on a car like the late 60's T-bird. Yes it had a belt, several, like in seven. And it would never fail that the broken one is the one farthest back in the line of belts. These T-birds had a belt for every function, power steering, AC, air pump, alternator, fan, water pump, and some other. I always remembered seven because I had to remove all to just to replace one. The serpentine must have been invented by a gas station helper like me. Bless them.
MoparMarq
Detailer

I always enjoy reading Rob's stories. And the pictures are usually quite pertinent and provide great reminders of "been-there-done-that". However, as someone who doesn't think twice about eating a wife-prepared sandwich with just-finished-on-the-car hands, even I am a little disturbed about the need for some nail clippers in one picture...
thehackmechanic
Detailer

It's the curse of being a finger-style guitar player AND a mechanic :^)
SJ
Instructor

Great article, so glad my Focus has the chain and my Mustang takes 5 minutes to change the serpentine belt(even with a V8).
chrlsful
Instructor

did we mention to re-check tension after a few cycles (like other 'newly done' automotive maintainances) as they loosen, stretch, etc~
thehackmechanic
Detailer

Yup, I totally should've mentioned that, thanks.
rushgator2112
Pit Crew

I had an idler pulley bearing fail on a '95 Lexus SC 400 on Pike's Peak. That was fun.
thehackmechanic
Detailer

It's oddly reassuring to me to hear of this happening on a car like a '95 Lexus that's the poster-child for Japanese reliability.
audiobycarmine
Instructor

Rob, I recently had to donate my SC400 because no one was able to diagnose its stalling-in-drive problem.
The OBD-I system told me it was the Mass Airflow Sensor. It wasn't. My mechanic next tried to find the issue, with far better diagnostic equipment, and also couldn't.
Too bad — I loved that car, but at this point we were just doing expensive exploratory surgery; with no guarantee of success.
TG
Instructor

My 944 entered the hallowed halls of Valhalla after chunking a timing belt and dramatically bending valves at an idle - a year after the timing belt was replaced. It had well over 200K on it and rust holes growing in places rust holes don't belong on a unibody car, so there were other issues, but the moral of the story is that things can go wrong even when you do the right thing, and the best thing to do is to enjoy them while they are running well and keep the cell phone charged
farna
Advanced Driver

Knowing exactly how to change the belt AND having the right tools to do the job is a necessity also. Trying to do it on a car you've never changed the belt on before (especially a late model serpentine!) is tough on the road, especially if you don't know what you'll need! My 1988 model 4.0L Jeep engine (in a 63 Rambler) uses a serpentine belt but no auto tensioner -- the power steering pump is adjusted for tension. I've had to change it on the road once due to an idler pulley bearing failure. I was able to get a shorter belt and route around the failed pulley (and the AC compressor) and deal with that later. Since the pulley ran on a shaft with the (failed) bearings in the AC compressor bracket it couldn't be dealt with on the road. Since I had to use a shorter belt to go around the problem having a spare wouldn't have worked. Only have about three miles to walk each way! Luckily I got rides and only walked about a mile....
MoparMan
Advanced Driver

It's AMAZING how LONG a distance can be when you have to walk it after a breakdown; as opposed to driving along it, ASK me how I know this, LOL!! 🙂
DUB6
Technician

   In December of 1980, I took my wife's brand-new Plymouth Champ from Boise to Sacramento for a fast-turnaround trip (Boise State won the 1-AA football championship).  On the way home, in pitch blackness on Highway 95 north of Winnemucca, Nevada, the idler pulley froze up.  This was a notoriously lonely stretch of 2-lane, and it was about 3 a.m., so there weren't even any truckers on the road.

   I then figured out what I hadn't brought: any tools at all!  So, no problem - just cut the belt off, right?  Except: no knife.  I figured that out there somewhere, there had to be a broken beer or pop bottle alongside the road.  After walking nearly a mile in each direction, I found that I had stopped on the cleanest stretch of highway in America - not one bottle, can, gum wrapper - not even a sharp-edged rock.  Remember, it was December, in the high desert, and I was starting to get desperate.  I also had to be to work the next morning!

   So, unable to cut the belt off, I decided to just run without lights or heater or radio - to preserve battery power - and let whatever happened, happen.  The belt smoked and squealed, but things held together all the way into Jordan Valley, Oregon (everything else was still buttoned up and dark along the way, except for the lights over a few cattle watering troughs on ranches).  It was nearing dawn, and I borrowed a socket wrench at a gas station to remove the belt and paid them $2.50 for a quick battery charge while I ate at the cafe.  After a quick scoot home, I was only about 40 minutes late getting to work, and the Champ was outfitted with a small tool kit and extra belt the very next weekend!

pixgermany01
New Driver

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