Belts are part of maintenance and are required to be inspected and replaced at certain interval to prevent disastrous problem. For example, one of the most important belt replacements is the timing belt. A timing belt should be replaced every 60,000-120,000 miles depending on the manufacture requirements. Some manufacture recommends replacing at 60,000 or every 5 years while different manufacture may recommend replacing every 120,000 or every 10 years. The reason why timing belt is very important is because it helps synchronize the crankshaft, camshaft, piston, and valve. When the timing belts breaks, the valve can hit the piston thus leading to an expensive repair for an interference engine. For a non interference engine, this will not be an issue.
Another important belt that requires attention is the V belts. A V Belt can turn multiple pulleys at once. For Example, a V belt can turn the alternator, air compressor and power steering pump at the same time. When the belt breaks, the alternator loses the ability to charge the battery therefore draining the battery and eventually the vehicle will come to a halt. In addition, the power steering pump will lose its function to provide steering assist to the driver therefore making it difficult for the driver to turn left and right. On a V belt engine, there may be multiple V belts turning different parts. You can always consult with a Mechanic such as Mobile Mechanics in Evanston to get more advice and maintenance tips.
Serpentine belt is a belt that turns all pulleys at once. For example, most Ford, Chevy, and Dodge trucks use the serpentine belt design. On a serpentine belt design, when the belt snaps, the vehicle loses all function. For example is no steering assist, no power, no air condition, and so on. Therefore, again the vehicle will come to a halt.
The best way to prevent disastrous repairs is to give attention your vehicle needs. The belt should be inspected for cracks, dryness, hardness, squealing noises and so on. When the belt is making a squealing noise, sometime it is difficult to differentiate whether the belt is faulty or the pulley is faulty. One way to check is to take water and put it on the belt while the engine is running. If the noise goes away, the belt is faulty, however if the squealing noise did not go away, one of the pulleys is faulty. An example is the power steering pump pulley, alternator pulley and so on. So remember, take care of your vehicle to prevent future problems or consult with a Mechanic near your location.