A modern automobile engine features a large belt to power car accessories and keep important features like power steering and A/C running. To keep the engine running long enough to let you charge your iPod there are also a number of hoses providing coolant to the engine.
You can't gaurantee a belt will last just by looking at it, but you can be fairly sure bad things will happen if you keep a damaged-looking belt on your car. Signs of damage to watch out for include splits, cracks, rough patches, any frayed pieces and possible glazing.
Approximately every 10-15,000 miles you should check the hoses on your non-running car (make sure you don't do this while the car is still hot). The main coolant hose on most automobiles connects to the engine from the radiator. First, check the visual appearance of the hose. Any burn marks, cracks or holes indicate wear and that you'll need to replace it. Next, feel the hose with your hands to see if it still feels like a rubber hose. If it's crackly or spongy this means there's probably damage.
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