There is nothing like ‘unfixable weakness’ in a car, please get another mechanic

mechanic

Good quality modern fan belts very, very rarely wear out or fail if they are properly tensioned.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Gavin,

My Toyota Vitz 2015 model has served me well in every aspect for more than a year, except I have had to change the fan belt six times! My mechanic has not found anything wrong with the system and says every vehicle comes with an unfixable weakness somewhere and that I should just keep changing the belt every now and then. I now always carry a spare. How true is my mechanic’s diagnosis? How long should a fan belt last? What could be causing the problem? What are the effects of a damaged fan belt?

Kiongo.

mechanic

Good quality modern fan belts very, very rarely wear out or fail if they are properly tensioned.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Good quality modern fan belts very, very rarely wear out or fail if they are properly tensioned, the right size for the pulley grooves, the pulleys/tensioners themselves are spinning straight, true and freely, and the belt is not rubbing against any out-of-place projection.

 If any of those requirements is at fault, all are readily fixable. A competent mechanic should be able to diagnose which of those possibilities is to blame in a few minutes.

An experienced mechanic might be able to spot the problem just by looking at the broken belt for any cuts or checking the type and position of any chaffing, and then confirm his guess by testing the groove fit and the pulley alignment and bearings.

It would be most unusual for a belt to be undergoing enough suffering to shred or snap it every few months without some other symptom that can be seen as a wobble, or heard as a screech or rattle, or smelled as burning rubber…or all three. By all means ask your mechanic what he thinks the “weakness” might be, and why it cannot be “fixed”, or save yourself more time and trouble by giving him a wide berth.

Fan belts do a lot of jobs on modern cars, but most essentially, they operate the water pump. Without that the engine will almost immediately overheat. If your fan belt breaks, you need to stop driving until it is been replaced.

This Suzuki street car does its job well

Suzuki SX4 S-cross

Suzuki SX4 S-cross.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Gavin,

Thanks for your educative auto reviews. They are very helpful. Kindly review the 2016 Suzuki SX4 S-cross in terms of maintenance and fuel consumption.

 Regards, Anne.

Suzuki are very good at making small cars that tick all the important boxes of durability, reliability, fixability and both fuel and the general economy. They also now get the top score in NCAP safety ratings, and their fully-loaded trim options have all sorts of gadget goodies.

The SX4 S Cross comes with different engine options, from 1.0-litre petrol to 1.6-litre diesel, with either front-wheel drive or 4-wheel (all-wheel) drive, but all are designed as street cars and not intended for extensive rough road or off-road use.

Specifically, performance is widely described as “tame” (their body styling also does not impress), fuel consumption is reported from 12 kpl to 20 kpl (depending on model and driving conditions) which is about average for the class.

Their maintenance costs are lower than their class average, and Suzuki has a design philosophy of getting things right and keeping things simple so their parts prices are competitive and not often necessary. A well-maintained and responsibly used 2016 model should serve you well and safely and be comparatively gentle on your wallet if it needs fixing.

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