The Lowdown on Belts & Hoses

Belts and hoses are essential to your car's operating systems. Hoses are used to carry many liquids such as fuel, oil, coolant, and transmission fluid. They also transport gases, such as the refrigerant used in the air conditioning system. Belts play an important role in driving the alternator, water pump, power steering pump, and other vehicle accessories.

Belts and hoses should be inspected annually by our expert technicians at your local AAA Car Care Center. In between maintenance checks, It is important to do an inspection under the hood yourself about once a month (or, if you notice any warning signs that something is wrong). Here are a few warning signs you don't want to ignore.


  • A squealing noise when you accelerate.
  • A squealing noise when the steering wheel is turned fully in either direction when parking.
  • A slow rhythmic slapping sound when your car is idle.
  • A whirring or grinding sound from a pulley when the engine is running.


  • The smell of gasoline when the engine is running may indicate a fuel leak. 
  • A puddle on the ground under your car, which could mean your cooling system is sick.
  • A sweet burning smell, which could indicate a coolant leak.
  • A smokier burning smell, which could indicate a transmission fluid leak.
  • Smoke from under the hood.
  • "Check engine" light illuminated on the dash.
  • A high engine temperature gauge reading.

The consequences of hose or belt failure can lead to a broken coolant system, engine problems, dangerous driving conditions, and costly repairs. Follow the recommended maintenance schedule in your owner's manual and make an appointment at your local AAA Car Care Center for your next inspection. For more information on belts and hoses, check out AAA's Make Sense of Car Care.

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