Changing hoses, belts, anti-freeze

I was so impressed with the thoughtful, timely replies received about my RAV4 timing chain (to change or not to change)(by the way, leaving well enough alone for now, guys)that I want to try another on this gaggle of articulate experts… while I change oil/filter every 5k miles, I have yet to change to change hoses, belts or even anti-freeze (128k on car)… no temp gauge indication of any problems… can a good mech determine whether the hoses/belts are ok, and whether anti-freeze is still good? (I’ve seen the testers, but not sure whether to trust’em)… not trying to spend any bucks that don’t need it, but don’t want to push anything over the brink either… your thoughts are appreciated…

That 2002 Rav 4 Is Anywhere From Just Over 6 1/2 To Just Over 7 1/2 Years Old.

The belts and coolant are past due. During the coolant change is the ideal time to replace hoses, too. Just ask your mechanic. I’m sure somebody is going to tell you to check your Owner’s Manual in regard to belts and hoses. So, check your manual.

I’m not sure how long water pumps generally last on these Toyotas. This could be an opportunity to change it, too, if somebody can advise you. These things all over-lap each other, labor-wise.

You can’t tell the condition of hoses and belts just by looking at them.

Hoses deteriorate on the inside. So a hose can look perfectly fine on the outside but actually be ready to fail at any time.

Belts fall under this same catagory. A belt can look perfectly fine, but you can’t see inside the belt where the reinforcing cords are located. So again a belt can look perfectly fine, but be ready to fail at any time.

Antifreeze in itself never deteriorates. It’s the additive packages in the antifreeze that deteriorates over time where the lubricating properties for the water pump are lost, and the anti-corrosion package is also lost.

It’s for these reasons belts and hoses should be replaced every five years/50,000 miles, and the antifreeze be changed every three years/30,000 miles.


Tester is right on! At 7 years and that mileage the coolant is overdue and should be changed. It makes sense to inspect all hoses and belts at this time. When the car is cold, squeeze the top radiator hose. If it collapses easily, it’s due for replacement. The bottom hose has a spring inside so you could not squeeze it. The heater hoses should be inspected as well. Belts will show minor cracks, but at this mileage they should probably be replaced.

My Toyota, a 2007, has the super long life Toyota antifreeze, which needs replacing at 90,000 miles! Thereafter Toyota requires changing every 30,000 miles!!!

So it looks like you are overdue on most things.

To ensure long and trouble-free life for you car, please do what the book and other posters suggest.

I worked in the Middle East, and for desert operation the companies relaced all belts and hoses every 2 years.

The antifreeze/coolant lost its rust inhibitor qualities loooong ago, thus undoubtedly having led to some rust/corrosion damage to the cooling system. You can’t turn back the hands of the clock to undo your lack of attention to this maintenance item, but you can limit further damage by having the cooling system flushed to remove as much sediment as possible, and then having it refilled with the correct specification coolant for that vehicle.

If you wait until you see the long term effects via the temperature gauge, it will be far too late to limit the damage that has already been done. In order to find out the correct type of antifreeze, consult the Owner’s Manual. Older Toyotas used the “universal” green antifreeze, but later models use a Toyota-specific antifreeze which is pinkish-red in color. Since you did not mention the model year of your RAV, I can’t tell you which type you need. Incidentally, the maintenance schedule that should also be in your glove compartment will also tell you the correct interval for the antifreeze/coolant change, most likely every 30k.

As to the hoses and belts, I always change mine by 90k, since I don’t want to be stranded by an unexpected belt or hose problem. If you don’t want to go by that type of schedule, your mechanic can advise you about the condition of the hoses and belts when he flushes and refills your cooling system. Don’t be surprised if you do need to replace belts and/or hoses.

You really need to do yourself a favor by reading and following the maintenance schedule, which is contained either in the Owner’s Manual, or in a separate booklet with an appropriate name. Both should be in your glove compartment, but are apparently unread. Whether the topic is oil changes, transmission fluid changes, cooling system service, fuel filter replacement, or any other maintenance procedure, the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule needs to be adhered to if you want to save money in the long run, simply because timely maintenance is always cheaper than the repairs that result from a lack of maintenance.

I Guess None Of The Toyota Experts Have Weighed In On The Water Pump.

What is the consensus? I’ll pose the question for Pittkid. If this was your Toyota Rav 4, 128,000 miles, 6 1/2 - 7 1/2 years old and you were paying to have coolant, hoses, and belts renewed, would you replace the water pump at this time because of the convenience of the over-laping labor and the timing of the maintenance? Some of you were concerned that the old coolant had lost some of its lubricity. I think the owner has saved enough on maintenance not done to be able to spend a little, now.

I don’t know what the life of these pumps is on a Rav 4. However, if it fails, the coolant change may have to be done over and the vehicle could be subject to over-heating or stranding its owner.

If “yes”, would you specify an original Toyota brand pump or is aftermarket suitable? I have no guess what the pumps or additional labor would run, either.

Thermostat, too? Toyota brand only?


I think that the thermostat is a smart move, too. The problem with belts is that they stretch so much that they are difficult to remove and replace. I’ve wished I had room on the idler arm for 2 wrenches when I waited too long.

Another way to check the hoses is to look for bulges. If you see any, it’s time to replace them. If you squeeze the hose in several places and there are soft spots, it is a sign of deterioration.

My advice is to start by digging out the owner’s manual. In there you will see a schedule of what should be done and when it should be done. Time to get it all caught up. That should include new engine coolant and I would tend to change out the water pump as well as the radiator cap, and thermostats as well.

Change the belts, but the hoses last forever on Japanese cars. It may still be a good idea to change them.

In my experience, water pumps give a warning they are about to fail before they fail. A failed water pump is usually due to ignoring the warning signs that become more and more apparent until failure. Warning signs include coolant dripping from the weep hole to indicate seal failure and bearing noise. Rarely have I ever seen one break an impeller, but I did see one with such a corroded impeller that it lost all the blades. I’ve also had to deal with a couple of locked-up water pumps. One was a person that just completely ignored the horrible bearing squeals.

Hmmmm? Last forever on Japanese cars? Care to tell that to the owner of a 1999 Civic who just had the car towed here for a split upper radiator hose?


Have you checked/changed the spark plugs? I check them at 1/2 the recommended change interval so they don’t seize in place.

What is your future outlook with this vehicle?

If keeping it another 50k I would change coolant hoses, coolant, and belts. If not you may find yourself broken down soon on the side of the highway as your luck will run out.

Forget the water pump till it fails.