NAPA Auto Parts Genuine Parts Company
8 Fairfax St SE
Leesburg,  VA  20175
(703) 777-2055
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Automotive Belts & Hoses 

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Simple Machines Doing Complex Jobs

Don't let the complicated arrangement of intricate components underneath the hood of your Dodge Ram 1500 intimidate you! While these systems seem impenetrable at first, a closer inspection proves that your vehicle's engine is a series of simple machines finely tuned to work in concert to get you and your ride from point A to B.

One of the simplest machines you can find in your engine bay is the automotive belt and pulley system. A pulley is a wheel that supports a belt (or sometimes a chain). Simply put, when the pulley turns, it drives the belt, creating motion that is then converted to energy. Some vehicles feature serpentine belt systems (also known as v-belts or accessory drive belts) that use several pulleys to power functions like your air conditioning, alternator, power steering and more. The tensioner is another important part of the belt-and-pulley system, which ensures that the proper tension is maintained during the cycle of the belt as it runs. If the engine belt has too little tension, it can't power things like the water pump sufficiently, and your motor can overheat. Too much tension, and the pulleys can seize and fail.

If your vehicle's check engine light is illuminated or the engine temp gauge is running higher and hotter than it should and you have adequate fluid in the reservoir, check to see if your serpentine belt is loose, especially if you're noticing a loud squealing coming from under the hood during a cold start or acceleration. To check that your serpentine belt is tensioned properly, turn off your vehicle and let it cool. Locate your belt in your engine bay and rotate 90 degrees. If you can rotate it a full 90 degrees and no further, the tension is correct. While you're there, go ahead and check the cracks. The rubber material on all belts will eventually develop cracks, but if you have more than 10 on a single inch of belt, it's time to replace your serpentine belt. NAPA Auto Parts carries a wide range of serpentine belt kits, so you can replace your belt, as well as any worn or damaged pulleys and tensioners.

Perfect Timing

An internal combustion engine is like a very well-choreographed dance. The separate parts must come together at a sequence of precisely timed intervals or else the entire system will break down. The pistons of your engine are connected to the crankshaft and must turn at a specific speed to coordinate with the camshafts' opening and shutting, which controls the intake and exhaust valves. The timing belt synchronizes this process so that everything performs properly.

It's important to check your owner's manual or your vehicle manufacturer's website for specific instructions on replacing your timing belt. In fact, most mechanics recommend keeping this information somewhere in your vehicle, preferably near the odometer, so you don't go too long without a new timing belt. If you start to detect a misfire or hear ticking or clicking coming from below your hood, check your timing belt for wear and damage. This is a very important part of your routine vehicle maintenance as a broken timing belt can spell certain doom for your engine. As the camshaft stops moving, the pistons will smash into the valves, causing a catastrophic failure. Engines with damage from a broken timing belt may need replaced entirely.

An at-home timing belt replacement is a moderately difficult job, but if you're ready to give it a try, order now or stop by your local NAPA Auto Parts store and pick up a timing belt kit so you have all the parts you need. You can also leave the wrenching to us! The friendly ASE-certified technicians at your local NAPA AutoCare Center are glad to check your timing belt and replace it if necessary. Don't risk a costly engine repair or worse, a full engine replacement.

Check Your Automotive Hoses

The hoses in your vehicle play a critical role in transferring fluids like coolant under pressure so your engine can stay cooled effectively. The problem is that the rubber compound material used to craft these hoses is exposed to the harsh environmental fluctuations in your engine bay, which makes it susceptible to breaking down, cracking and failing.

One of the most common causes of hose failure is known as ECD or Electrochemical Degradation. It frequently affects coolant hoses and occurs when certain chemicals form an electrical charge that results in tiny cracks forming within the coolant hose. This cracking exposes the reinforcement network of fibers in the hose to the corrosive chemicals that are found in the coolant itself, leading to a degradation of the hose. It is sometimes extremely hard to spot because the damage is occurring inside the hose, but if you're vigilant and check your engine hoses as part of your maintenance routine, you can avoid risk. Here's how to check your coolant hoses:

  1. Check your coolant level in the tank regularly to ensure you always have enough coolant in your system. Keep a bottle of coolant on hand in case you need to top it off occasionally.
  2. Turn your engine off and open the hood to let your engine cool faster. Once it's cool, locate your coolant hose. At the points closest to the hose clamps (this is where ECD can often occur), squeeze the hose between thumb and forefinger. It should feel pliable but firm and not flake or crumble.
  3. Inspect the rest of your engine bay and under your car for coolant leaks.

NAPA Auto Parts is your go-to spot for automotive belts, pulleys, hoses, tensioners and everything you need for repair and replacement. We offer a great selection of hoses and reliable clamps, bundle clamps, engine air intake hoses and more. We know how important it is to save not only time but money, so when you sign up for our NAPA Rewards Program, you get One Point for every $1 you spend. After you collect 100 Points, you get $5 off your next purchase at NAPA, it's that easy!