Most newer vehicles come with two air injections systems. The primary system delivers air through the air filter, and then to the intake, where it mixes with fuel in order to create combustion. The secondary system employs a pump that sends air to the exhaust system, where it is taken back up and re-burned in order to deliver better gas mileage and reduce pollution. The air pump on the secondary system could be operated electrically, or by means of a belt. Belt-driven systems are actually becoming less common, but your vehicle could still be equipped with such a system. It could be a dedicated belt, or the system could be driven by the serpentine belt which delivers power to all of your engine’s accessories.

The belt essentially takes the energy from your engine’s crankshaft and delivers it to the pump. If the belt breaks, then the secondary injection system stops working and your air pump stops. If it is driven by a serpentine belt, of course, everything stops.

The air pump belt is used every time you drive. That means that it sees a lot of use, and is vulnerable to wear. Even if you don’t drive much, though, belts are subject to wear and tear simply due to aging. You could get up to eight years out of your belt, but it is more likely that it will have to be replaced within three or four years. At the very least, at the three-year point your air pump belt should be examined for signs that it may need to be replaced. Those signs include:

  • Cracking
  • Stretching
  • Missing ribs

If you think that your air pump belt may be nearing the end of its life, then you should have it checked out. A professional mechanic can examine all of your automotive belts, and replace the air pump belt and any others that are showing signs of damage.

This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does an Air Pump Belt Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.


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