Chirping is fine…if you keep any birds. For any car owner, though, this sound spells trouble. More often than not, it calls for a belt change.
Two of the best brands, if you hear the chirps, as I call them, are Gates and Dayco. When comparing these two brands, it’s really important to mention that there’s a good reason for this battle – both of them have state-of-the-art product lines and are very popular for many reasons. But, of course, there are some differences.
So, what brand of timing belts is the best? Well, let’s compare these two brands’ product lines and see which one has the better quality belts and radiator hoses. Let the Gates vs Dayco battle begin.
What Is the More Reliable Choice?
Alright, let’s get one thing clear first. There’s a very specific reason why Gates belts like this one are more popular. After all, Gates is the OE supplier to many manufacturers, such as AC Delco or NAPA. On most American vehicles, Gates should be your primary choice in terms of general fit and compatibility. On the other hand, Dayco belts are the OE standard for a lot of Toyota cars.
Both brands focus on several product lines and deliver relatively similar performance in all of them:
- Serpentine belts
- Timing belt kits
- Radiator hoses
- Belt tensioners / idle pulleys
The thing is, Dayco had those neoprene belts that were more susceptible to ozone degradation. At one point, they switched to EPDM rubber compounds, too. So right now, both Dayco and Gates go for EPDM belts that are more durable and significantly better in terms of quiet operation.
As I mentioned, Gates is a better fit for most American vehicles. This is what really matters, as a misaligned fit leads to unwanted noise and ‘chirps’ down the road. On some Ford models, for example, I’ve seen people complaining that the Dayco belt was too short.
Let’s look at a few other important factors to keep in mind.
Gates Belts vs Dayco: Where Are They Produced?
I’ve seen a lot of people asking where the Gates or Dayco belts are made. As far as I know, Gates still manufactures their serpentine belts and many of their products in Arkansas. Obviously, that makes Gates a Made in the USA brand.
With their newer lineups, they’re aiming to expand into Europe and China to meet demand. A press release from last year states the subsequent rollout on a global scale – first in Europe, then Chinese facilities to come.
On the other hand, Dayco has already gone global in terms of its supply chain logistics. I’ve seen some people see anything from Mexico to China, Italy or other countries. I’m not sure if their belts, specifically, are manufactured in the US.
Belt Dressing and EPDM Serpentine Belts
This one’s pretty important and can potentially ruin your newly bought belt. And you don’t want that.
Modern serpentine belts are made of EPDM material. If you use belt dressing on them, the rubber compound you have there will swell in time. What happens is that initially, the dressing dampens any belt noise. You think that everything’s alright, and then BAM! the rib surface gets dry, and that’s when the noise problems begin. As your belt’s already tacky and contaminated, you either have to live with this noise or change the belt again.
Dayco themselves warn of this on their official site, and I’ve seen their marketing manager spread the word on community forums, too. Live by this wisdom, and don’t make mistakes!
A common issue is not the belt itself, but rather the belt tensioner and pulley. Hence why earlier, I mentioned making sure your serpentine belt fits into your whole setup. A small misalignment can cause some serious chirping.
If you go with one of the two brands for your belt and you need a new belt tensioner, always stick to the same brand. That’s all I can say about idle pulleys or belt tensioners.
Gates vs Dayco Radiator Hose: What’s Up with Them?
As far as radiator hoses go, Gates is one step ahead. Their lower or upper radiator hoses are slightly thicker. Dayco’s have thinner walls which might be an uh-oh moment for some applications. Regardless, what matters here the most is the bending angle.
You should always pick the radiator coolant hose that bends as close to your OEM hoses as possible.
As I mentioned, Gates is the go-to choice if you drive a Chevy Avalanche or Silverado, a GMC Sierra, a Cadillac Escalade, and most Ford SUVs too. In fact, most American vehicle manufacturers. The fit and bend will be there, which is what you want to see.
For Gates radiator hoses: check here to see their different applications.
For Dayco radiator hoses: check here for anything from curved to other parts.
What Is Your Choice?
Gates is the more popular choice for a reason, but don’t underestimate Dayco either. While Gates timing belt kits and radiator hoses are better (thicker construction on the latter, great reliability on the former), Dayco serpentine belts are a worthy competitor.
At least you know that you’re getting a reliable aftermarket part with either brand. You can’t say that for most off-brand, seemingly cheap belts or hoses that can cost you a lot more in the long run.
So, in the end, it’s up to your personal needs. Whether you’re looking for continental belts, a replaceable timing belt or a quality serpentine belt, these two brands have got you covered.
Speaking of American vehicles and AC Delco, you can always read my comparison between ACDelco and its competitor Moog.
So, Gates vs Dayco – what is your choice? If you’ve tried some of these serpentine belts, let me know what worked for you best in the comments.