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2005 Honda Element - Serpentine Belt

How often should the serpentine belt be replaced on a Honda Element? My car–an '05–has 45K miles and the dealer is recommending this service, among many others (alignment, throttle induction, rear differential service). Obviously, I am a bit dubious.

How hard is replacing the belt DIY? I am somewhat mechanical, have done basic car repairs (oil change, headlights), but have little automotive training.

Thanks.

The serp belt replacement interval should be specified in the recommended maintenance schedule that came with your owner’s manual. Typically they’ll be around 60K or 5 years, whichever comes first. Time does count with belts, because the elastomers deteriorate.

I haven’t done a replacement on an Element, but generally they’ll require a buddy to keep the tensioner retracted while you thread the new belt. And be sure you have the routing diagram with you. It’s easy to make a mistake on some cars.

Perhaps the best thing to do is to get a Haynes manual at the parts store, read through the procedure, and see if you feel up to the job.

Keep the old belt in the car after in case the new one breaks while you’re on the road

Along keeping the old belt in the vehicle, you’ll also need to keep this in the vehicle http://www.thetoolwarehouse.net/p-6372-schley-products-68170.aspx to release the tensioner. And you’ll also need this in the vehicle http://www.thetoolwarehouse.net/p-18713-calvan-tools-734.aspx to route the serpentine belt around the pulleys.

Tester

They have the tensioner in the photo too! I hope nobody orders a belt and wonders where the rest of it is.

Honda uses the best belts, and hoses. Unless the belt is noisy, it should be good for awhile yet. If it is fraying on the edges or the ribs are cracking, it would be a good idea to replace it, but this is uncommon. I work on Honda’s in Florida, northern weather may cause them to fail sooner, but here it should last at least 100,000 miles. Most multi-ribbed Honda drive belts here last longer than that. Hope this helps. I personally think “throttle induction” is a waste of money, just run good gas and don’t baby the engine. Stepping on the gas occasionally and getting the RPM’s high will keep the engine clean.

@Conoso Right, Belts should be regularly inspected and replaced when significant cracks or fraying occurs. We just sold a 1994 Nissan and this car only had one replacement belt since new.

I also spent some time in Saudi Arabia, and the local contractors replaced all drive belts and hoses every 2 years for safety reasons. All vehicles also carried an extra “bag” of coolant and a repair kit.

For normal use just keep inspecting the belt. If you need to replace the alternator and the belt is well worn just replace it as well.

There is no set time in most maintenance manuals.

Given the cost of the tools, you might want the dealer (or indie mechanic) to do it. If you let a shop do it, you can wait. I have a 2005 Accord and had the serpentine belt changed this year. But it was part of the timing belt service. The serpentine belt had to be removed anyway, and I only paid extra for the new part. Your Element does not have a timing belt (lucky you!). Anyway, my serpentine belt looked great and had not stretched to the point that it had to be replaced. This just happened to be a great time to do it.

You can look at it with the engine off and push on it between the pulleys to make sure that there is very litle play. After you get your hands and clothes out of the way, someone could turn the ignition momentarily to move the belt and you can finish the inspection.

A visual inspection of a serpentine belt is no longer a reliable determination whether or not the belt requires replacement. When serpentine belts were made from neoprene they would start to crack or chunk out at the ribs indicating replacement. But all serpentine belts today are made from EPDM. This belt material doesn’t crack or chunk out as it wears. Instead the ribs and groves wear down where the belt can begin to slip.

Gates will send you a free serpentine belt wear indicator tool for these EPDM belts. http://www.gatesprograms.com/beltwear/beltwear

Tester

Today’s a good day - I learned something. Thanks for the tutorial, Tester.

Thanks Tester, good tutorial.