CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Someone please explain!

Ok, I was riding on the highway ( my usual mode of transportation) and all of a sudden the check gage light came on the temperature reading shot up to hot and the truck started slowing down. I quickly pulled over to the shoulder. Didn’t notice any obvious causes for the engine to run hot. I purchased the truck s8 months ago from Carmax ( with the extended warranty of course). I wasn’t able to drive the car at that point so I waited patiently for a tow truck to come and tow me to the shop. I asked him if he could look under the hood for me (obviously i’m a girl) and he notice that a belt was shredded underneath the hood. So that was removed with tug. I gave that to the mechanic once I got to the shop. The next day I received a call from the mechanic and he tells me that my serpentene (spelling) belt broke off which caused the engine to misfire causing a blown head gasket. And because the damage was due to the broken belt the extended warranty would not be honored as that is not an item covered in the warranty. So the mechanic tried to find the reason for the belt to break. He told me he checked the pullies and once they replaced the belt the truck still didnt’t run. They did get the truck to start so that the AC could be checked and that was not the reason for the engine over heating. I’m assuming they checked the water pump, but I’m really not sure if they did. I was told by a mechanic for the army that if the water pump locked up that would cause the belt to break off. The delima I am having at this time is that without having a reason for the belt to break off, the warranty won’t be honored for the engine… There was no corrosion or dry rotting noted on the belt that was “handed” to the mechanic. And at this time he says he doesn’t know WHY the belt broke off. WHat do I need to do at this time? I am very meticulous about getting my truck service but must admit I never specifically told any mechanic to check the belt as I didnt have a reason to. I’ve only had the truck for 8 months and kept up with the regulary scheduled maintenance. Which in 8 months and less than 60,000 miles was an oil change and whatever comes with that every 3,000 miles

Something doesnt sound right to me(not on your part,but the diagnosis)-Kevin

You blew the head gasket because you didn’t shut the engine off soon enough after the belt broke and without the belt driving the water pump your coolant stopped circulating and thus,cooling.It has nothing to do with misfiring except driving with a blown head gasket can put coolant into the cylinders soaking the plug and causing a misfire.
You are learning the value of most extended warranties.
By the way, your post makes it clear that you didn’t shut the car down when the gauge went up or even when a light came on telling you that the gauge went up, but kept driving until your engine was seizing up, slowing your vehicle.

Well sir the issue is not with whether or not I pulled the car over in time. I pulled the car over when it was safe 4 me 2 do so. As I stated in the beginnin I was on the highway. The issue remains with cause and effect. Did the belt brake off because of the engine over heating or did the belt breaking off cause the engine to over heat. The warranty company is sayin tht if somethin caused the belt to break and that’s a covered part, then all of the damage is covered by them, but if the belt breaking off is due to normal wear and tear (belts are not covered) then I have to foot the bill

This is the problem with “extended warranties.” There are lots of things they don’t cover, and this is rarely understood by the purchaser. Unless you read the warranty for yourself you don’t really know what’s covered. I suggest you read it and not take someone else’s word for it.

The serpentine belt broke. Reason unknown. Most likely age. Belts don’t last forever. If the water pump locked up, yes, that would do it, but it would be very easy to diagnose. You can turn the water pump by hand. Either it turns, in which case it’s not locked up, or it doesn’t turn, in which case you have the culprit. This is not rocket science.

The broken belt meant the water pump was no longer turning (or vice versa), which led to engine overheating. The overheating may, or may not, have damaged the head gasket.

The “misfire leading to blown head gasket” statement is TOTALLY BOGUS. Engine misfires do not damage head gaskets.

There are more questions than answers here. Again, I suggest a careful reading of whatever warranty came with the vehicle.

My Father-In-Law Told His Daughters That If They Had A Flat Tire In A Dangerous Location That They Were To Continue Driving Until They Reached A Safe Place.

He told them he would pay for any damage. He knew that additional and possibly expensive damage (ruined tire, wheel, etcetera) would be the result of driving on a simple flat tire. He was a wise man and knew that the safety of his daughters was more important to him than money.

You chose to drive without a cooling system in operation when " . . . all of a sudden the check gage light came on the temperature reading shot up to hot . . . " because " I pulled the car over when it was safe 4 me 2 do so. As I stated in the beginning I was on the highway."

I’m not going to tell you that you made a bad decision because I don’t know the danger you’d have put yourself in had you stopped right away, but you went against the advice in your Vehicles Ownwer’s Manual and against what a warranty would ordinarily be resposible for covering.

You possibly sacrificed the vehicle in order to save your own life, not a bad exchange.

Since the water pump was not checked it will have to be along with any other accessories, idler pulleys, pulley brackets, etcetera. It’s posibble that the belt was old, reached the end of its life and broke. Belts need to be renewed as regular maintenance.

Also, when the head gasket(s) are replaced the engine will need to be inspected for additional damage. The fact that the vehicle continued to be driven while it was slowing down is not promising. You wouldn’t want to pay for head gasket(s) and discover that engine is an oil burning monster when you get it back.

Good Luck,
CSA

What Model-Year Is This Truck And How Many Miles On It ?

I am very meticulous about getting my truck service but must admit I never specifically told any mechanic to check the belt as I didnt have a reason to.

Your Owner’s Manual should have a schedule in it or with it that indicates when the serpentine belt should be inspected and / or replaced, along with intervals for all other serviceable maintenance items.

CSA

We have no idea of the actual age of the vehicle, because the OP did not disclose that information.
Even though the OP appears to tell us that she drove the vehicle for “8 months and less than 60k miles”, I think that she is telling us that the total odometer mileage is less than 60k miles. Were those 60k miles accumulated in 3 years, 5 years, 8 years by the previous owner(s)?

Belts and hoses deteroriate over time. This situation is exacerbated by driving in a hot climate. A belt can look to be in reasonably good condition, and yet be ready for failure. That is why I tend to replace my serpentine belt every 4 years, whether it shows signs of deterioration or not. IMHO, it is far better to spend some money on preventative car care than to wind up with an overheated engine and internal engine damage.

Unfortunately, soft parts like belts are not usually covered by an extended warranty.
Unfortunately, the OP is unlikely to win this battle with the warranty company.

Sorry for the bad news.

Serpentine belts break is a common occurance, often just due to age and fatigue. Water pumps seizing up is quite uncommon. It is more common for the AC compressor to lock up, and even an alternator can lock up. If all these parts are rotating freely then most likely your belt just broke and you are not going to find any “reason” for it to break.

The serpentine belt drives the water pump, alternator, power steering pump, and AC compressor. Once the belt breaks your motor will overheat very quickly. You’d have to immediately move to the shoulder of the road and turn off the motor to have no damage. Running the motor a total of 30 sec. or longer post belt breakage puts you in the “damage” zone for overheating. As soon as all your dash warning lights came on, that is the moment the belt flew apart. Soon after the lights lit up the temp guage went up to H.

In the future you should realize you can steer the car and stop the car even if you turn the motor off. Just flip the key to off or ACC and when the motor stops click the key back to the on position. That way the steering column lock won’t engage. Put on your 4 way flashers and coast as you move to the shoulder and then stop.

For now, you might be able to fight the warranty people. That depends on the year of the truck and other details of the fine print. Serpentine belts can last 10 years and they can fail when only 2 or 3 years old. To be safe a new belt every 3 or 4 years is not a bad maintenance item. See what Ford says about when to replace the belt in the owners manual.

In my experience a serpentine belts breaks because something siezed and caused it to break. I have never in over 25 years seen a serpentine belt break on it’s own accord.

Do not give up on this, have the tech continue to search for the reason the belt broke. When the cause is found then the extended waranty should cover the repair.

And the next statement by the mechanic was that I need a new engine. My dad asked if the engine locked up he said no, but there’s either a cracked block or blown head gasket there not sure. So is it safe to say at this point I need a second opinion?

I thought I stated it is an 05 Ford Explorer. Sorry I guess not.

Willey, What Has Made Up Your 25 Years Experience Over There In Traverse City ?
CSA

While I agree with willey that an alternate scenario should be sought, the OP has to realize that a 5 year old serpentine belt can simply snap without warning–even if it looks good to the naked eye. Yes, it is rare for a belt to snap after 5 years, but it is not unheard of.

I totally understand everything you all are saying and I appreciate the input! Thanks again.

I have never seen a serpentine belt snap. I have seen them break because something has siezed, even a 5 year old belt won’t just snap.

Something broke the belt on this vehicle the tech just hasn’t found it yet.

Serpentine belts will shred once they get glazed and cracked. Regular drive belts will do the same. Sometimes there is a direct cause like a seized bearing or an idler breaking but they will shred or break on their own accord. I have not seen many but it does happen. The last one that broke on me was on my motorhome in the middle of the Arizona desert. I always carry a spare so I changed it and it’s still there 4000 miles later. The belt was about a year old when it shredded.

Why don’t you just look at my background page.

Sorry, I Looked When I Saw The Zip Code. I Just Didn’t Scroll Down Far Enough.
CSA

Thank you all for ur responses. It allowed me to make a decision as to whether or not I needed 2 get a 2nd opinion and I did. I took the truck 2 Ford and Ford is sayin that the 1st diagnosis is certainly sum bs… Their sayin a serpentine belt breakin off could not hv caused the engine 2 misfire that is just not possible. I was told that the engine over heating caused the belt to break NOT vice versa. Now b/c the engine over heated it would be great to hv a cause. But sumthing caused it. Their tryin 2 fig out what. The truck is not running long enough 2 really trouble shoot that. But the claim will be resubmitted. As I was typin this msg I received a call frm Ford sayin that the warranty co is givin them a hard time due to the fact the 1st place said it was the belt. So this is another issue.