Power Steering Belt Job

Only question I have is whether aftermarket power steering belts are all that inferior to OEM belts. Anyone?
Otherwise, a little report follows, for comments and/or the
archives.
We had some extreme cold (for where I live, out West) for a couple weeks, whence I noticed that my car's engine was making a light but quite noticeable squeaky-squealy sound under all operating conditions. It was not too loud, but it was definitely different from the engine area's usual sounds. It seemed to be coming from the power steering belt. I checked when it was changed last, and it appears neither I nor any shop has touched it since before 2000, over 70k miles ago.
Today I changed the PS belt with minimal trouble. One key tip that I think has been noted here before, but I will note again, since it was not in my Chilton's manual: The pump housing has a 1/2-inch square receptacle on the top where one may fit one's 1/2-inch drive breaker bar and pry to get the belt tension and then tighten the pivot bolt.
The old belt was indeed /very/ cracked.
The engine sounds now seem to be back to normal. I haven't road tested the car yet.
I used a "Duralast" belt for $7 from Autozone. A packet of "belt dressing" cost me another $1 or so. I never used belt dressing before, but I recollected people suggesting it here in the past, so I thought I'd try it.
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On Wed, 10 Jan 2007 21:29:26 GMT, "Elle"

Just for reference, unlike the majority of substances, rubber and rubber-like compounds expand when cold and actually shrink when warmed up. I would guess that is why you first noticed the belt slipping when the car was cold.
Elliot Richmond Itinerant astronomy teacher
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correction
rubber based compounds shrink like everything but water when very cold
ref
handbook of chemistry and physics
Elliot Richmond wrote:

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I am not sure what you mean by very cold. If a polymer, such as rubber, is in its elastic range, then it behaves as I described. The belts in cars are well within their elastic range. They must be to function properly.
On the other hand, if a polymer is cooled to a very low temperature (which depends on the polymer) then it becomes brittle and glass-like. In this temperature range, it would behave as you describe. But for rubber, the temperature range for this kind of behavior would be far below any normal operating temperature under the hood of a car. This behavior can be demonstrated by cooling a rubber ball in liquid nitrogen. It will become very brittle.and shatter like a piece of glass when struck with a hammer.
Elliot Richmond Itinerant astronomy teacher
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Elle wrote:

some, most definitely. others, like bando, are oem or better.
<snip>

ugh. it's a fudge for slipping belts. i wouldn't touch it.
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I've had whipping and early failures from standard Gates belts, but the "green stripe" versions seem better. Better than OEM? I dunno.... In any event, if a visual inspection of the belt at idle and with the throttle gradually opened shows whipping of more than the amount of deflection the belt has when stopped you really don't want that belt. I've found increasing tension won't make a belt stop whipping.
I've started using belt dressing regularly on new belts, but I can't say how much it has helped - if at all.
Mike
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Okay. Thanks for the tip.
I took my Honda on the highway for a couple hours total today. At first startup the new belt was a little squeaky, but it made no initial squeal (as in loose belt), and is certainly quieter than the old belt. I thought maybe it was the belt dressing, breaking in, etc. After driving for a couple hours, the car sounds back to normal.
'Course, I don't have much by way of splash protectors on the bottom of the car anymore, and with the snowy weather where I am, and slightly crazy driving due to a dearth of snow plows, I think some crud may have jumped up in there and been the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

Okie-doke. Somehow it is hard to imagine too many problems from a poorly designed or even installed PS belt. I would be more concerned about the alternator belt and will go OEM when it's due next.
Found a site today advising replacement about every 3-4 years or 36k-48k miles. They're cheap enough that this sounds reasonable. Those interested should see http://autos.yahoo.com/maintain/repairqa/engine/ques040_2.html
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