According to the Car Care Council, one out of five vehicles needs a new belt. Until recently, most belts were constructed of Neoprene material and have a life expectancy of 50-60K miles. As the Neoprene belts wear out, cracks and chunk-outs will occur, as shown below. Today, most serpentine belts feature EPDM construction, which stands for ethylene propylene diene M-class rubber. Visually, it's hard to tell the two types of belts apart, but EPDM belts far outlast and outperform any of their predecessors.
Signs of EPDM belt wear
The diagram below shows how EPDM belts wear as they age. Although the ribs have not become shorter, material has been lost in the valleys of the ribs (indicated in red), making the space between ribs wider. As more material is lost, slip, noise and hydroplaning can occur.
To help you accurately diagnose belt wear in EPDM belts, use a belt wear gauge, to determine the appropriate time for belt replacement. Visit your local O’Reilly Auto Parts store to get your FREE belt wear gauge or click here and click on the "FREE Belt Wear Gauge" button to order yours online.
Your vehicle's belt plays a vital role in keeping you safe on the road. When looking for a replacement, be sure it is a high quality belt manufactured by a reputable company. Gates Micro-V AT belts provide peak operating performance while delivering the highest value available, lasting up to 50% longer than basic belts. And if it's time to replace your belt that means it's a good time to replace your tensioner as well.