Besides the soft purr of the engine, usually we don’t pay attention to many other noises that may occur and for that, in case of a malfunction we don’t know what’s going on. So let’s try to learn a few things using our…ears. Various sounds usually make very good guides in detecting, assessing, troubleshooting and fixing a problem. Noises that occur at start up, noises that can be heard from under the car or others as such are the perfect guidelines for a mechanic for analyzing the problem and finding the malfunction.
Let’s talk about two of the more “dangerous” noises to be heard. One of them is a high pitched sound when you start the engine and it’s cold. This is most likely caused by a loose drive belt that connects the alternator to the engine. This usually occurs when a car has been sitting in one place for a longer period of time and the battery is nearly empty. This will cause the alternator to “accelerate” and develop more energy to pump into the battery stressing the belt more. In case the belt is not tight enough it will slide especially at startup. The sound is very high and loud so it’s kind of impossible to miss.
Car noise problem
Even the lightest looseness can cause the belt to slide in the niche and make that sound at every car startup. In case you have a model that has a slim V belt you should definitely check for signs of wear, certain cracks, or ragged appearance. If the belt seems ok with no obvious signs of wear to it, than you should take it down and turn all rotating items with your hands to ensure that nothing is blocked or is turning very hard. Be careful, there may be grinding noises that indicate obstructions. This is something to be done periodically even if no sounds can be herd. It’s proper preventive maintenance.
You need to know that some car models have what is called a serpentine belt. It’s a belt that connects all the moving parts related to the alternator altogether. This type of belt will not make the loud pitch sound unless it’s completely worn out. There are several side effects here: engine overheating, air conditioning not working, battery draining and other things. If the belt breaks than a whole lot of lights will go on in the same time. In that case you need to stop the car immediately to avoid further damage.
In case you hear a grinding noise coming from the engine area than maybe the water pump may be to blame. You can hear that sound that oscillates each time the engine revs. If so there probably should be leaking a bit of radiator fluid. A good idea is to look under the car for drops of bright green fluid. Often this happens when the bearing of the pump hosing goes, and, naturally to make things worse, it deteriorates the seal in the process. After the seal is gone drops of radiator fluid will find their way out. If that happens than you need to have the entire cooling system checked since seals get damaged when particles can be found in the cooling agent.
The alternative is once again related to the alternator belt. In case of an obstruction you may hear a grinding noise. Fortunately this is easy to spot since the alternator belt drives more components so all you have to do is check the one that is not turning and changing the components are fairly easy to replace.
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