How To Troubleshoot A Car That Makes A Loud Screeching Sound When It Starts
Your car has probably been a faithful servant for a while now. Youve begun to regard it much as you do your refrigerator its one of those things that does its job and doesnt require much thought. Then one morning you start your car and an ear-piercing screech or shriek comes from the engine. People on the street look at you and neighborhood dogs begin to howl. But what’s going on? A little knowledge of the systems in your car can help you figure it out.
If you’ve listened to this sound a few times, you may have already noticed some patterns. Does the noise occur only at start up and then go away after 30 seconds or so? Is it worse in cold weather than in warm? If so, then you are probably looking at a tired drive belt. If the noise is continuous and doesnt stop, it could still be a belt, but your problems may go deeper.
Tensioner Bearing Or Idler Pulley Not Working Fine
In the case of certain cars, some rollers dont hold anything when you have removed the fan belt. These are known as tensioner bearings. These also go by idler pullers and are mostly found in vehicles that have a single huge belt. The tensioner bearings then ensure that the belt spins appropriately. If the tiny bearings inside the idler pulleys fail, you can get a squealing or whirring sound. Such noise is not quite detectable and you might not be able to identify where its coming from.
Solution: If the idler pulley or tensioner bearing has failed, you need to replace it with a new one. The steps involved in this procedure are easy. Start by removing the belt to replace the idler pulley and then, reinstall the belt again.
What Causes A Car To Squeal When You Start It Up
This sound is commonly referred to as squealing belts or backlash. Its a result of the destruction of the belt when it comes in contact with the pulley.
The noise is caused when something is preventing the system from spinning at a constant rate, so it sort-of vibrates and squeals instead. The problem may be in the accessory belt itself or in its pulleys. If your engine makes a high-pitched sound when you start up, then its likely that your accessory belts are too loose or too tight. Either way, this will affect your cars performance and potentially cause serious damage to your accessories.
The obvious fix may be to listen for the sound and immediately tighten or loosen the belt. However, if you see that it requires exact precision, then you should probably get that fixed by a professional. After all, any improper adjustment can result in serious damage to your vehicle.
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What Makes Your Vehicle Squeal When Starting
Most of the time, the squealing is do to something called a serpentine belt. When you open your hood, its the incredibly long belt that winds around multiple pulleys. It connects the crankshaft to other systems like the alternator, power steering, AC, and water pump. When it comes to your serpentine belt, there are three main reasons it could be squealing, all of which are easily fixed:
Top 5 Causes Of Serpentine Belt Squealing
Cold winter weather is never a friend to your vehicle. If your wheel well suffers ice accumulation, then strange noises will follow. If you hear squeals, then it could be your engine belt or serpentine belt.
But in most cases, it will be your serpentine belt that is making these noises. They may even get worse as you step on the gas pedal to accelerate. Here are five of the most common reasons your serpentine belt is making noise when cold or accelerating.
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I Have A Squealing Noise From My Cars Front End Whats Causing It
If the noise is coming from within your car, you might want to check with your mechanic about the possibility of a loose air conditioning compressor belt. If this isnt possible, then it may be time to replace your belt. You should inspect and replace these belts every 60-80,000 miles because they tend to start going bad after that time frame. This problem can also be caused by a loose alternator belt as well as a loose power steering belt.
Serpentine Belt Repair And Cost
The cost of a serpentine belt depends on the make, model, and year of the automobile. A new belt will cost between $30 and $75 or more. Some models require the tensioner to be replaced with the belt, which adds $40 to $70. If you do it yourself, youll save the shop charges, which range from $125 to $225 an hour in my area.
If doing it yourself, take a picture of the belt configuration before removing it. Check the manual for comparison and also belt tension and nut torque values. It may take a pro 20 minutes give yourself two to four hours, especially if its your only means of transportation.
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Squeaky Belt When Car Starts
Over time, wear and tear can take a toll on the belt and the pulleys, which often results in that high-pitched chirping sounds when you start the car and accelerate. A worn belt can, therefore, begin to slip, which is one of the causes the squeal. Alternatively, cracks can cause the belt to snap.Mar 11, 2019
Reasons A Belt Will Squeal
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Knowing the reasons a belt will squeal is the only way to stop the squeal for good. If you have a car or any vehicle, you may notice that there are times when it squeals each time you start your engine. The reason behind that is the rubber belt. However, why does a belt squeal?
Engine belts screech or squeal because the rubber belt slips on the metal pulley. Commonly, a slipping and squealing belt will result from one of 4 things:
Fortunately, you can fix a squealing and damaged belt. But before you can do that, you need to know the reasons behind the noise that it makes.
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Engine Accessories Or Pulleys Can Also Squeal
If your serpentine belt passes the inspection but you still notice a squeal coming from the engine bay, there are several possible culprits. Many of the accessories and pulleys guiding the path of the serpentine belt can wear out or fail over time. Parts such as the AC compressor, alternator and power steering pump eventually need maintenance or replacing.
Many engineers design pulleys to guide the serpentine belts path. If a pulley is failing, the belt will slip or cause a misalignment in its travel. A bad or failing pulley can cause engine squealing to occur.
These potential automotive part issues are very common causes of engine squealing. Regular or preventative automotive maintenance can catch potential pulley issues before they cause damage to other parts.
How Expensive Is It To Replace A Serpentine Belt
A typical serpentine belt start at around $25 and goes up to $75 at most. If you know some car repair basics, you could change the belt yourself, and it may save you paying labor charges somewhere between $75 and $120. All together, youre looking at around $100 to $195 to replace your serpentine belt.
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Oil Or Grease Contamination
If the back of the belt looks shiny or glazed, it can mean there is some contaminant on the belt. Check for coolant, oil, or grease spills or leaks that may get on the belt. The contaminants can deteriorate the belt material and interfere with its operation. It may also indicate other concerns under the hood like a leak, or a pulley or tensioner is out of alignment, seized, or damaged.
Why Do My Belts Squeal When Its Cold
Most squeals are cause by engine belts that need to be adjusted or replaced. Bad or loose belts that need to be replaced due to normal wear and tear or a bad tensioner on cars with a serpentine drive belt. Bushings are designed to keep the metal parts in your car quiet, but when they are worn, they squeak.
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What Can You Do If Your Car Squeals
If youre convinced that the squealing noise is coming from your accessory belt, then it may be time to call in some professional assistance. This is especially true if its causing issues with your cars performance, so it may be possible that your car isnt safe to drive, or it could even cause you to lose control of the vehicle. It is truly important to have the belt checked out as soon as possible. Another great reason to pay attention to this issue is that many drivers underestimate how much tension their belts are actually put under. You can never go wrong with a professional mechanic to have this done for you.
One of the best things about having a technician inspect your car is that theyll be able to call their mechanics and tell them exactly what you want done with the belt. Theyll also be able to order parts if necessary. You can then call up your mechanic and they can double-check the work they did and make any adjustments that need to be made before you head off on your way.
Do Timing Belts Squeal
The timing belt has teeth, like a chain, so it cannot slip and squeal. But it does wear out and break without warning. Earlier, the technician may have tightened your accessory belt or your power steering belt, not your timing belt. A worn accessory belt can certainly can slip and squeal if it is worn out or loose.
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Reasons That Might Cause Alternator Belt Squeal After Replacement
Have you recently replaced your alternator belt and its making a squealing noise? That could be very frustrating indeed! The belt is responsible for pulling several pulleys located in front of the car engine. Wondering what is making your alternator belt squeal after replacement? There could be a couple of causes behind the squeaky noise from the alternator belt.
In most cases, this is due to a bad serpentine belt. Other reasons include a faulty hydraulic belt tensioner, bad spring-loaded tensioner, faulty idler pulley, and misalignment of pulleys and the belt.
Why Is It Making Noise
The sound of a squeaky belt in your vehicles engine is usually because the rubber belt is slipping on the metal pulley. Similar to when your tires squeal on the pavement, this slip causes a dreadful noise.
This may be occurring due to any number of factors, including the following:
- Misaligned tensioner or pulley: If everything isnt aligned correctly within the belt system, it will cause a slip and begin to make noise.
- Improper Installation: When installed, the belt must be tensioned appropriately and then re-tensioned again after a few minutes of running the engine. If not, it will eventually squeal and need to be replaced again if not remedied quickly.
- Weather conditions: Extreme weather conditions will often bring out a squeal as this may affect the belts stiffness.
- Contamination: Water or leaking fluids from another part of the engine may have splashed on the belt.
- Basic wear and tear: Belts dont last forever, eventually as they age they will lose their stiffness or the surface may become glazed, cracked or brittle.
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How To Deal With Squeaky Drive And Fan Belts
IMAGE Manskee Nascimento
Your drive and fan belts should not be overlooked, as these car parts are crucial for proper engine operation. Both can eventually fall prey to wear, and even begin exhibiting audible signs of it such as irritating squeaking noises.
The thing is, most people will find it difficult to assess the condition of belts or pulleys based on sounds alone. In this article, we discuss belt care and identifying the source of the noise, as well as what to do.
Though these belts can last anywhere between 80,000-160,000km, you can prolong their life by using belt dressing. This product usually comes in spray cans found in hardware shops, and will help lessen wear, tear, and squeaking. Here’s how to use it:
1) Start the engine and keep your car running on idle.
2) Insert straw extension into spray nozzle for precise application.
3) Aim spray can towards the inner lining of the belt/s while running, depressing spray nozzle for about 2 seconds. Never soak the belts.
IMAGE Manskee Nascimento
Note: While having your vehicle serviced at a dealership or shop, it will be wise to inspect the treading of your belts from time to time. Look for cracking or tearing, and replace when found along the belt lining or if a portion is heavily deteriorated.
There are only a handful of reasons for your belts to squeak. It can be a worn out belt, misaligned pulley , or a tensioner that has gone bad.
New Serpentine Belt Squeals When Accelerating: What To Do
As I mentioned earlier, even a new serpentine belt can squeal when you accelerate, and its because the pulley where it runs is worn out.
Like in an engine startup, the new serpentine belt squeals when accelerating because the engine places a large load in the alternator, and this part runs through the belt.
A serpentine belt runs the air conditioning, cooling system, alternator, and power steering pump. Since acceleration puts a lot of load in the alternator, it can cause excessive work for the belt to squeal.
A belt tensioner helps maintain the belt tight and is easy to remove and replace because it is such a big belt. However, if the belt is worn, it might slip and scream when the vehicle accelerates. Additionally, if any of the alternators pulleys are worn or loose, the belt might scream.
The most common causes of squealing come from a worn-out serpentine belt. Thus, if you have a new one, then the problem is likely from the pulley.
What you can do is lube your belt a little with WD-40, which will also help displace any water or moisture in it.
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Is It Safe To Drive With A Squealing Belt
When the serpentine belt breaks, the vehicle may become inoperable, which would require an expensive tow and add to the overall repair costs. Plus, since the belt powers the power steering pump, a loss of pressure could result in heavy steering, which presents a safety risk when driving.
Thats why its recommended that the serpentine belt is replaced early when the squealing symptoms are first noticed.
Although it may be safe to drive with the squealing for a few days or weeks, the belt will eventually need to be replaced, and for safety, the earlier its repaired, the better.
It Might Be The Power Steering System
New Subaru models are starting to come equipped with electric power steering. That means you won’t need to worry about power steering fluid or any other part of a hydraulic system. However, most cars still on the road today are equipped with a hydraulic power steering system that requires a special fluid. When this fluid is low, or when the pump is beginning to fail, you’re likely to hear a squealing sound. This sound is usually at its worst when the steering wheel is turned all the way to one side.
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Cause Of The Screeching Noise You Hear When Starting Your Car
The serpentine belt is responsible for keeping various vehicle systems functioning. This includes the power steering pump, the alternator, water pump, and air conditioning. It is also referred to as the drive belt. Sometimes, it may lose tension and wear down due to friction and heat.
This may cause the belt to squeal or chirp and as a result, you may hear a loud engine screeching noise any time you start the car. In this post, well teach you how to fix a car thats making a screeching noise due to a drive belt that has lost its tension.
Why Does My Car Squeal On Cold Start
When you have a squealing noise on start up, that goes away after a few minutes, is normally a belt issue. You may need to also take a look at the pulleys to be sure they are not glazed, which can also cause a belt to slip, and be sure to check the belt tensioner to be sure that it isnt beginning to fail.
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Brakes Squealing Is Their Friendly Way Of Telling You Its Time To Get Them Serviced
Believe it or not, brakes are designed to squeal when they start to wear out. That annoying squealing sound means youve still got time to get them replaced and not spend a fortune. Simply pushing the brake pedal will initiate the noise, and thats pretty much a good clue. Sometimes speed makes a difference, but brakes that need service will usually squeak or squeal at any speed. Eventually theyll screech and shake and grind themselves into oblivion. Brakes squealing is really when you should just have the brakes checked. If you wait until there is grinding or shuddering and shaking whenever you use the brakes, the squealing has probably by now gone away and been replaced by these other hideous indications that youre in for a full brake job maybe right down to the rotors.