Have you ever turned the key, revved up the engine, and backed out of the driveway, excited to hit the town for fun or even just to get some of those errands run, only to hear that dreaded and embarrassing squeal come from under the hood? You know the one that makes your neighbors turn their heads, and not in a good way? You’re not alone—we’ve all been there. To help you out, here are the top 5 reasons for that squealing or chirping noise, and what you can do about it!
- Automatic Tensioners—Most engines are ﬁtted with spring-loaded belt tensioners whose job is to help the belt maintain proper tension through its life cycle and to reduce vibrations and belt noise. Over time, however, the tensioners wear, and improper tension occurs, resulting in slippage, promoting premature belt wear and unwanted noises such as belt squeal. While some tensioner pulleys can be replaced, to avoid injury, never try to disassemble one of the automatic tensioners. Call in a mechanic, who can safely take care of this for you.
- Pulley alignment—Improper belt alignment decreases the life of the belt by up to 50%. A misaligned pulley creates belt noise, due to fraying, uneven wear, overheating, and glazing of the belt. What’s more, belt temperatures increase dramatically in relation to the degrees of misalignment. To ensure the proper alignment on installation, make sure you use the proper tools or leave the work for a mechanic you can trust.
- Chemical Contamination—The presence of ﬂuids, such as antifreeze, engine oil, or power steering fluid, on a belt requires a belt replacement by you or your car care professional. The ﬂuids cause softening and separation of the belt construction and attract debris, which erodes the pulley surfaces, causes the belt to fray, and thus makes a lot of unwanted noise. This could even cause the belt to jump off.
- Belt Cracking—When a vehicle has been in service too long, cracking can occur and signal conditions such as pulley problems, too much heat, or tension, which can lead to belt noise or car screeching. Be sure to have a mechanic check this one out.
- Frayed Edges—Frayed edges on a belt are an indication of a rough pulley surface, pulley misalignment, or shaft damage. As the edges are shredded, and ﬁber cords protrude from the belt, this can damage other components, such as the A/C compressor or other expensive encounters. The fraying cords can cause personal injury, so watch your fingers and hands or hire someone in the know to keep your engine noise down, and you and your car safe.
The life of a belt is a stressful one. Exposed to tremendous pressure every day, it is positioned in a hostile environment of intense engine heat and is easily subject to chemical contamination and misalignment. Make sure a trained and trusted professional is always part of your car care regimen and only attempt the maintenance you feel capable of performing safely. For the best parts, visit a quality parts professional like those at Mighty Auto Parts. Mighty is there when you need them, with quick, meaningful solutions to the real problems you encounter every day.
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