Gates app measures serpentine belt wear

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Gates Corp., a manufacturer of industrial and automotive products, announced the launch of the Parts Image Capture Gauge Belt Wear App, a smartphone app designed to deliver accurate measurement and evaluation of serpentine belt wear.

Using digital imaging technology in concert with industry-standard specifications for serpentine belts, Gates PIC Gauge utilizes a photograph taken with the smartphone’s built-in camera, which then is analyzed by software to determine the degree of rib wear detected. The analysis returns one of three results: within specifications (green), wear detected (yellow), or replace belt (red). Belt wear measurements can be captured from any automotive or heavy-duty K-section serpentine belt.

“One of the easiest and best ways to avoid expensive repairs down the road is to replace a vehicle’s serpentine belt on time,” says David Miller, vice president of marketing at Gates. “While the typical customer may not think to have the belt checked, PIC Gauge allows professional technicians and service writers to easily inspect a vehicle’s belt while in the shop for routine maintenance or repair.”

R.L. Polk & Co. estimates there are more than 240 million vehicles on U.S. roads today. According to the Car Care Council, one out of every five of those vehicles needs a new serpentine belt. Since the late 1990s, auto manufacturers have phased out the use of neoprene belts and now install ethylene propylene diene monomer belts, a superior technology with better performance characteristics but, like any wear part, have a limited service life.

As EPDM belts age, they rarely show wear symptoms such as cracks and chunk-outs that are typical of neoprene belts. Gates says PIC Gauge is able to detect material loss and wear on these newer belts, and the results, which are immediate, can be stored and retrieved for future reference. The tool is designed for professional technicians, service writers and do-it-yourselfers, and is available for the iPhone and may be downloaded for free from Apple’s App Store.