Why is my car squealing?
September 9, 2005 6:03 AM   Subscribe

My car, a 1998 Elantra, has suddenly started squealing rather loudly every morning when I back out of my parking spot. The mornings have began to cool down, resulting in more dew, so that may be a factor. Any ideas what the problem may be?
posted by ttrendel to Travel & Transportation (14 answers total)
Most likely a belt -- serpentine (if the Elantra has one). Could also be A/C or alternator belt.
posted by trey at 6:09 AM on September 9, 2005

in past I remember having problems with squealing coming from engine belt slippage specially when starting out in the morning.
posted by flyby22 at 6:11 AM on September 9, 2005

Ditto the belt idea. Could also be the power steering belt. Simple diagnostic ideas (short of opening the hood and eyeballing the belts, which is a good idea):

- See if the squealing seems to synch with engine speed.

- Turn your A/C compressor off and on and listen.

- Turn your steering wheel both directions and listen.

Does the squealing start immediately, or only when you pull out of your spot?

When you open the hood, check the belts for any obvious signs of wear such as abraded edges or cracks on the underside. Look also for soot or grime on the belts; they might be in fine shape except for that, and you have other issues (leaking oil -> soot -> belt -> squeal).

That's all I can think of for now. ObWarning: If your car has a serpentine belt, and it's getting worn, and it breaks, you're pretty much stranded. A/C and power steering are, obviously, less critical. Consider investing in a Chilton or Hayes book (first hit on Google, not an endorsement) to help locate the relevant components and diagnose your belts' condition.
posted by ZakDaddy at 6:41 AM on September 9, 2005

Ack. Haynes, I meant.
posted by ZakDaddy at 6:41 AM on September 9, 2005

Power steering belt
posted by blue_beetle at 7:39 AM on September 9, 2005

I have a 94 Geo Metro - it has multiple belts (instead of a serpentine) - our belts loosten about once a year and squeal like crazy when starting the car in the morning and after work - a tightening by the mechanic (or on your own) is a quick fix - be sure you or the mechanic inspect the belt(s) though - as signs of wear mean it's time to replace, not just tighten - hopefully, if this is the case, you don't have a serpentine - as, it's my understanding that replacing a serpentine belt is much much more involved than replacing individual belts...
posted by soplerfo at 7:47 AM on September 9, 2005

It only happens while I am actually pulling out of the spot. I suspected it was the power steering belt, but that was just a shot in the dark.
posted by ttrendel at 7:50 AM on September 9, 2005

When you start the car, do you find it difficult to turn the wheel? If so, if such a belt exists, blue_beetle is correct that it's the power steering belt. It's definitely a belt of some sort, and if you goto a automotive store, they can recommend a spray that will create additional friction between the belt and whatever the belt is wrapped around. Otherwise, follow soplerfo's advice.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 9:11 AM on September 9, 2005

Also, if the steering wheel is difficult to turn when it's cold, it may mean the seals in the rack and pinion have hardened. This, in turn, could cause the belt to the power steering pump to squeal because the pump is being overworked. This is a common problem with older Fords, but having no experience with Hyundais I can't comment on them specifically. It's definitely within the realm of possibility, though.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:10 AM on September 9, 2005

I'd say avoid the belt dressing. It may stop the squealing, but it's just masking the problem. If a belt is making noise then it is either loose and needs to be tightened, or it is worn and needs to be replaced.

In the case of a loose belt, not tightening it will cause it to wear out much faster. The slippage will kill the belt.

In the case of a worn belt, covering up the sound via belt dressing just hides the fact that it's worn and can no longer do its job properly, and that it will eventually fail.

Either way, something is wrong and if you don't correct it you could end up stranded when the belt finally breaks completely. Take the noise as a helpful warning.
posted by Rhomboid at 11:08 AM on September 9, 2005

Alternator belt, it needs to be tightened, possibly replaced.
posted by knave at 11:21 AM on September 9, 2005

i used to have a dodge neon with drum brakes on the rear wheels. on humid mornings the rear brakes would squeal a bit the first one or two times i used them, and then quiet down after that. not sure if the elantra has discs all-around or what, but if you are using your brakes when pulling out this could be the noise source too.

no, i dunno what the fix would be. probably new brake shoes.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 1:16 PM on September 9, 2005

I have a battered and worn 97 Elantra and can say for certain that the rear brakes are drums. However, I also get a squeal from the power steering and extremely hard steering when the car's sat for a few hours in its parking spot.

If it was the power steering belt, you'd know about it because the steering would be incredibly heavy (like mine). In fact, I'd like to thank ttrendel for bringing this up because it's reminded me to get my arse into gear tomorrow and get the steering sorted once and for all.
posted by Ridge at 2:01 PM on September 9, 2005

second (third? fourth?) the power steering belt. The squealing is it slipping; as it warms up it will soften and quiet down. The problem is that that warming is by friction and quickly wears the belt and makes its surface slipperier.

You need to get it retensioned at a minimum, perhaps replaced. Not expensive at all.
posted by polyglot at 8:49 PM on September 9, 2005

« Older Is an ipod on shuffle truly random?   |   Please help me move to Toronto in a hurry! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.