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My car has a serpentine belt. Its a long belt that runs snake-like through the front of the motor connecting various devices (alternator, fan, A/C) to the engine. As the engine runs the belt supplies power to whatever its connected to.
That's my description at least. I'm not a big car / motor person so I'm sure someone more capable would describe it better.
But the point is that every time I go to a shop for any work that needs to be done the mechanic (if you can even call them that) starts warning me that I need to replace this belt because its getting cracked and is about ready to break. If this belt ever breaks I am told, the entire car will pretty much cease to function properly and serious damage could be done to the car.
This is true. (see story below)
What they fail to mention is that the belt always has little cracks in it. Even a relatively new one will have some small cracks in it from use. I know this because one time I had the dangerous cracks pointed out to me on what I knew was a very new belt. I'm talking less than a year on this belt. Considering that I've changed the serpentine belt on this car maybe three times max in the 12+ years that I have owned it, I don't think one year is all that much.
But nonetheless I was warned. Change this belt or else you'll be stranded on the side of the road somewhere with a ruined car!!
I politely thank the mechanic and say "no thanks".
The danger from this scenario is very real (see story) and there would be little harm done by replacing this belt except buying something that I don't really need. But unless I knew the real risk of danger I might be misled into thinking that I am in some sort of imminent danger.
Now, I ask you, doesn't this sound like a mechanic trying to get you to buy something out of fear?
``The longer we wait to address the coming crisis, the more excuses that are made for inaction, the more difficult and expensive the job will be down the line,''
I have to wonder, when was Dick Cheney a mechanic?
(I'll add the story later...)
The story: (Click ++ to read)
Years ago I actually had a serpentine belt break on me. BUT.. it was only because the alternator came apart.
It started a few months earlier when I awoke one morning to go to work. I was living out near Brookside and I was working at a photo lab. I'm running a bit late and I go to start the car -- and nothing. Its dead. I know there is an O'Reilly Auto Parts just up the road so I stuff my car battery into a bowling bag and schlep the heavy-ass thing down there to get a new one. I get the new one back, stick it in the car and go to work.
While I'm sitting there working a thought occurs to me: "What if it wasn't the battery but a bad alternator? I'm about to head out of town, down to Dallas for the weekend and I don't want to end up on the side of the road somewhere."
I call my dad and relate the story and ask him if he could possibly pick up a new alternator so we could stick it in before I leave -- that night.
At the time my girlfriend was living in Dallas and I was living in Tulsa. (I know, in hindsight that might have been a warning sign...) and I would drive down every other weekend or so to visit her. She moved down there to take a job and it was pretty rough. I thought I was being a good boyfriend by visiting...
I would usually head out on a Friday night after work and come back early on Monday morning. So my plans that day were to leave after work, drop by my gf's parent's house to pick up a few things and hit the road.
Sure enough, when I get in the car I notice that the "charge" gauge is flat on the bottom and I'm just running my new battery dead. Its after dark and I'm driving with my headlights on. The whole way to HER parent's house and out to MY parent's house I am just waiting for the whole thing to shut down. It never does. I make it there and we put the new alternator in -- except, the alternator we get has to have a piece from the old alternator transferred to it, which we do, but not very well. We just didn't have the tools to tighten the cog piece tight enough.
I made it to Dallas that night but several months later as I was heading back down there my car started making scraping noises. It started about Plano and when I finally made it to town I popped the hood to find that the alternator cog had come loose and most of the teeth on the fan had been bent or knocked off. I was lucky that the entire thing didn't fall apart.
THAT -- the entire thing falling apart happened a few months later.
After that night coming into town I took the car down to this Nigerian mechanic and put another new alternator in the car.
It lasted a few months as well.
Till one day I'm driving down Harry Hines and I loose my power steering and the car starts to overheat. I pull over into a parking lot and wonder what the hell I'm going to do. I eventually cross the street to this car repair place. The owner was this Lebanese guy that could switch between English, Arabic and Spanish in mid sentence -- or so it seemed to me as I listened to him work the phones. I eventually told him I needed to have my car looked at, I drove it across the road and we had a look at it. The little cog had come loose AGAIN. This time it shredded my serpentine belt and came completely off.
That night I took the bus home because it was too late to get a new alternator, which I did the next day, thanks to a cool manager at my job, and I haven't had a problem since.
Cuz this time I thought "Screw O'Reilly and their shitty alternators!!" and I went to Autozone where the cog is already installed.
The End. Now go to bed kids!
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Dissolve into Evergreens