Preventative maintenance is topic we discuss and encourage every day, and just ahead of Roadcheck 2016 (happening June 7-9), it’s a topic that should be top of mind for drivers. Keeping regular scheduled maintenance records, performing key pre-trip inspections, and regularly checking key equipment areas such as engines, brakes and refrigerated units are often discussed. Today, we look at two of the more basic components: belts and hoses.


Many engine systems now run on serpentine belts, single continuous belts that drive multiple devices in an engine. This is advantageous to a driver, as it means there is only or two belts to inspect. Here’s how to inspect:

  • Use your hands – these are the best tools for making sure the belts are in good working condition.
  • Primary inspection should focus on premature wear. This will usually appear on the belt’s outer edges. Outer edges are very sensitive to small misalignments.
  • Check for lateral play – any that is present can quickly lead to wear and eat into the belts main body.
  • Check for any signs of fraying on the outer edges – this type of wear can not only indicate that the belt needs to be replaced, but that there is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed.
  • Older belts will show age through cracks in the top, sides, and bottom. Belts should be supple and able to flex easily; any brittle belt that cracks and resists flexing will soon fail and should be replaced immediately.
  • Check for proper belt tension. Newer engines have spring loaded belt tensioners that automatically keep belts at the proper tension, and also help to eliminate over tightened belts. Over tightening a belt should be avoided as this puts added strain on the bearings which can lead to misalignment and ultimately, belt failure. Tension can be tested by pressing down on the belt; while some “play” is normal, movement should be about ¼ of an inch up or down. (not too much “play” can indicate that the belt tensioner is failing and needs to be replaced).


Checking an truck’s hoses and fittings is another relatively easy maintenance practice. Coolant hoses wear out from the inside out. As a coolant hose degrades, weak points appear and foreign material can enter the heater core. Any places hoses or fittings are fastened, clamped, connected, bent or otherwise secured are potential places for wear to occur. Here’s how to inspect:

  • Again, use your hands.
  • Many times, there will rarely be an obvious sign of wear. Feeling a cooling hose is one of the easiest and best ways to assess its condition.
  • To check for wear, turn the system off and squeeze the hose between your thumb and fingers to gauge its firmness. If the hose feels spongy, it is weak and needs to be replaced.
  • Manually checking the hose can also alert to scuffs, gouges, bulges and abrasions that are difficult to see. Feel for moisture, seepage, or excess dirt and grime around fittings, clamps and connections.
  • In general, coolant hoses should be installed so the bend is in the most relaxed position, not pulling away from the fitting. Any strain on the hose, however slight, is an opportunity for pressure to build and a weak spot to form.
  • There can be as many as 50 clamps on a truck, and many different clamping systems. For the cooling system, try to use claims that can provide uniform tension and sealing, and consider the hose type, size and material.

So there you have it! Inspections of two key truck areas that don’t need fancy equipment to test, just your hands! Make sure to test your belts and hoses today, and check back next week for our full run-down on what to watch out for during this year’s Roadcheck inspection blitz!

Preventative Maintenance: Tips for servicing belts and hoses was last modified: by