Autodealer, along with MotorHappy, have compiled a list of things that every driver needs to know about drive pulleys and cam belts, if their vehicles are equipped with the latter and not a cam chain.
A car’s drive pulley (also known as a crank pulley or damper pulley) is connected to the engine’s crankshaft - one of the components which make the engine rotate. A pulley is a wheel that supports movement through a rope or cable. It's called a pulley because its main job is to pull things.
With the main purpose of minimising vibration and tension, the car’s drive pulley ‘pulls’ the drive belts like the alternator belt, air conditioner drive belt, power steering belt and water pump belt. A worn drive pulley may cause vibration and unnecessary tension to the car’s drive belts, which could cause the belts to fail or snap.
Pulleys - which need to be replaced due to failure - are often covered by a warranty and are also often considered for replacement or repair with a maintenance plan if failure comes as a result of normal wear-and-tear and is not covered by an existing plan.
The car’s cam belt is a rubber belt designed to keep the moving parts of the car’s engine in sync, enabling it to function properly. With ‘teeth’ on the inside surface, the cam belt keeps a firm grip on all the necessary components of the car’s engine – if these ‘teeth’ wear away or the cam belt fails in any other way - due to cracks and chips for example – the engine will also fail, which is a very costly exercise to repair.
The frequency of cam belt replacement depends on where and how you drive. It is a good idea, however, to check your owner’s manual to see what interval your car’s manufacturer recommends for your specific make and model.
To avoid any nasty surprises, it is essential to check the cam belt regularly for any cracks, chips or missing ‘teeth.’ If you see anything suspicious, have a professional take a look and replace if necessary.
Much like many of the other belts in pulleys in the engine, the cam belt is often included in service plans and maintenance plans, so for those who have a plan in place, read through your policy book to see if you can have this taken care of without any additional cost.