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Turning on your car and have it squeaks loudly is as annoying as it is embarrassing. Everyone will look around and want to know where such a distinct sound came from. Moreover, something must go wrong in your car. In this article, BestLifeTips will share with you the reason why your car squeaks when turning on and tips on fixing it.
Reason why your car squeaks when turning on
When something is not working properly within a vehicle, one of the first signs of failure is an abnormal sound made by the car. If your car squeaks when turning on, you need to know what is causing it.
Finding the noise
Determine if the noise only happens when turning on, or if it is also happens in other situations. Check to see if the sound appears only when you start the vehicle from a cold temperature, or if it appears on a warm start as well. Have someone start the car. Stand in front of the car with the hood open. Make sure the car is in neutral with the park brake on, or in parking gear before starting the car. Listen carefully to see if you can detect the section where the noise is coming from.
Reason why your car squeaks when turning on
Most of the time, car squeaks when turning it on has something to do with a serpentine belt. It is a 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 serpentine belt, there are three main reasons it could be squeaking.
- Worn/Damaged belt
It means that your belt is old. It can range from the belt elongating, to worn edges, to worn-down teeth. It may also show that the belt is damaged. This requires the belt to be replaced. Don’t worry, the serpentine belts aren’t particularly expensive.
- Loose tensioner
The serpentine belt needs to be kept at a specific tightness and tension, which is the job of the tensioner. On older vehicles, the tensioner may not be able to stay at a specific setting since materials and systems naturally degrade.
- Belt slippage
If you park your car outside, you’ll most likely have this problem. Cold and dew can affect the shape and grip of a serpentine belt.
A bad alternator can lead to squeaky noise when you start your car by interfering with how the belt works. So make sure to check it together with the serpentine belt, too.
Is it dangerous if car squeaks when turning on?
Weather and road conditions can cause a squeak once in a while, but regular, prolonged squeaks are concerning. They are annoying and distracting.
The belt is one of the most important components under the hood, and a bad belt left for long periods of time can damage all the devices that run off of it.
When the serpentine belt breaks, the vehicle may become inoperable, requiring an expensive tow and add to the overall repair costs. Moreover, because the belt powers the power steering pump, a loss of pressure could result in heavy steering, which presents a safety risk when driving. So it can be dangerous if car squeaks when turning on.
Although it may be safe to drive with the squeaky noise for a few days or weeks, the belt will eventually need to be replaced, and for safety, you should fix it as soon as possible.
Car squeaks when turning on – How to fix?
How to check for bad serpentine belt and bad alternator symptoms?
Before fixing your belt, you need to confirm that the noise you hear from your car is not a sign that your alternator is going bad. Follow these steps to check for the serpentine belt and a bad alternator.
Step 1: Turn on the engine and watch the volt gauge. As you start the engine, the volt gauge will move with the squeaky noise. The change is subtle but noticeable. In some vehicles, a light will turn on the dashboard when you start your car. Both cases show that you have a bad serpentine belt.
Step 2: Open the hood of your car and check the drive belt. Once you open the hood, locate the alternator. It is normally an aluminum housing with a pulley at the front that has a belt on it. In some cars, it is near the top of the engine compartment while in others, it’s mounted at the bottom of the engine.
You need to check the tension of the belt. Push it about half an inch down. If you can push it further without much force, then the serpentine belt does not have enough tension.
Step 3: Check the alternator to ensure it turns. Take off the belt and spin the pulley to make sure your alternator works fine. If it spins nice and smooth, it’s fine. But if you feel any crunching, hear any noise, or experience difficulty while rotating it, your alternator is going bad. It may be the cause of the squeaky noise you hear when turning the car on. And you may need to replace both of the belt and the alternator.
How to fix the serpentine belt if your car squeaks when turning on?
If your alternator is working fine, you just need to tighten up the belt to eliminate the squeaky noise. For some newer cars, there is an automatic belt tensioner that you can use to apply the right amount of tension to the drive belt. For older cars, you have to do it manually.
Step 1: Locate the large bolts that secure the alternator. Some cars have an alternator with two large bolts, one at the top and one at the bottom. Some may have four bolts. Adjusting these helps to tighten the serpentine belt.
Step 2: Loosening the bottom bolt using a wrench.
Step 3: Place a pry bar behind the alternator and loosen the top bolt. Use the pry bar to push on the alternator from the back when you slightly loosen the top bolt. Once the bolt loosens, re-tighten it while still pushing further on the alternator.
Step 4: Use the wrench to tighten up the bottom bolt.
Step 5: Check the belt to see if it has better tension.
Step 6: Start your car and listen to your engine compartment. The steps above should help eliminate the engine’s squeaky noise. If your car still squeaking when starting, it could be a symptom of a bad alternator or a worn serpentine belt.
If your serpentine belt is too old and worn out too much, you need to replace it immediately. A serpentine belt replacement is a relatively low-cost engine repair. The belts are easy to replace. A serpentine belt isn’t a costly part, most price between $30-$80.
See more: How to fix a squeaky belt with soap?
If your car squeaks when turning on, it might be caused by a bad alternator or serpentine belt. You need to find the cause and fix it timely in order to have a safe drive and protect your engine. Come back to BestLifeTips for more helpful information.