Before we begin I would like to state that not all auto mechanics are bad. I have worked with some great honest technicians. But what about the bad ones that are out there, these mechanics are the one’s to look out for. I knew an auto mechanic that kept a squeeze ketchup bottle filled with lightweight oil in his toolbox. This auto mechanic would squirt it on shocks, struts around valve covers on master cylinders and what ever the auto mechanic felt like selling that day. The auto service advisor would bring the customer out and show them the wet spots and how important it was to have the repairs done today to avoid getting stuck somewhere. You can protect yourself against this old auto service trick by performing a pre service trip inspection. I explain this in the next to last chapter of my new book a mechanics secrets. The end of the book covers the subject of learning about your car to help avoid scams and rip-offs. I teach you how to act like you know about cars even if you don’t. But what else will the auto mechanic find wrong during your auto service visit. Well since they are in the engine compartment they couldn’t help but notice that you need belts and hoses replaced. First we will talk about belts. Most modern cars have one large belt called a serpentine belt. This one belt drives all the accessories like the alternator, water pump, a/c compressor and power steering pump. In the old days they would have 2 or 3 belts but now they have just one belt to do the job. The down side is if the belt breaks you loose all your accessories. Your battery stops charging and you loose power assisted steering but worst of all your water pump stops turning. If you keep driving without this belt your engine could over heat because the water pump is not pushing the coolant through the engine. But to the auto mechanic, replacing the belt is a gravy job. The auto service shop and the mechanic will find this service Very easy and quick to do and could cost over $150.00 bucks. Meaning a large profit with little effort. So you must be careful and ask some questions. When a serpentine belt is recommended for replacement ask why. If the answer is because it has cracks this may not be good enough. The industry formula for cracked belts is 10 light cracks per inch indicate the belt should be replaced. Light crack’s spread out over the whole belt may mean the belt still has life left in it. The cracks develop on the face of the belt or the ribbed side. The strength of the belt is on the back or smooth side of the belt. If the belt is frayed or damaged from hitting something ask the auto mechanic to show it to you and replace as needed. Use this rule of thumb when deciding to replace the belt. An average serpentine belt will last for about 50,000 miles or more. So take a look at the belt and if you approve the replacement of the belt ask the auto mechanic for the old belt and through it in a bag and put it in your trunk for emergencies. It’s always nice to have a spare for emergency use.