Have you started hearing some squeaking noises at start up and you are looking for a solution for this problem and ways how to stop a squeaky belt? Well, if that is the case, then you are at the right place because there will be a lot to cover on this topic because we are going to learn everything you need to know when it comes to sorting this problem out.
- What Is Squeaky Belt?
- Belt Types
- Routing Components
- How To Stop It?
Having problems like in this case with the car making squeaking noise is a completely normal thing. Especially if the belt was on the car for years and over the long use this belt loosened up a little bit. This is why these belts have intervals for their replacement.
And you need to follow these intervals pretty closely unless you want at one point this belt to snap completely and hurt your engine. Belts are really important and potential belt snapping brings serious risks when it comes to the health of the engine. If a serpentine belt snaps the car could overheat because this belt is driving the fan, or if a timing belt snaps it could even destroy the engine. So, take precautions when it comes to this. But don’t worry, we will cover everything.
First, we are going to elaborate on this problem with the alternator belt squeal. Then we will dive into the types of belts used in cars and then we will cover the components that are really important for belt routing. After that, we will cover the types of tensioners, as well as how to stop a squeaky belt. So, if you want to learn more, follow along.
What Is A Squeaky Belt Noise
Now before we jump into more complex topics like how to stop a squeaky belt, let’s first take a look at what is a squeaky belt noise in general. I bet that there are a ton of people reading this article has come across this issue before and want to learn more about this problem. So, this chapter is dedicated to them. If you want, you can jump directly to the chapter, where we sort out the problem. If not, keep up with us for a bit.
Nevertheless, let’s dive into the problem and learn what is a squeaky belt. A squeaky belt in simple terms is a belt that squeaks. Squeaking is audible information that tells you that you have a problem inside of your engine bay.
Everybody knows what normal engine work resembles and what is considered to be non-normal engine work. And you should too, mainly because if these problems are left untreated, you risk facing a ton of other problems down the line.
And it doesn’t have to be a belt, it could be a bad serpentine belt sound or a timing belt sound. It could be anything. Abnormal engine work is abnormal.
You should definitely invest your time in this problem unless you want to replace a whole engine in worst-case scenarios. But what could be the possible causes for this situation when the belt squeaks?
Well, more about that, we are going to cover later in the article when we are going to explain the types of belts and also the belt components. Now let’s take a look at why you should aim to sort out this problem and learn how to stop a squeaky belt.
Why You Should Learn How To Stop A Squeaky Belt
Now let’s take a look at why it should be of your interest to learn how to stop a squeaky belt and sort out this problem permanently on your vehicle. Why should this be a priority? Let’s elaborate.
The first priority for you will probably be the notion that you will not experience squeaking noises in the future.
This noise can be really strong and almost distract you while you drive the car. And you definitely want to avoid distractions if you are asking me.
Not to mention that it is really annoying to listen to it all the time. Especially at idle RPM when the car starts when this sound is the strongest.
In addition to this, you will also make other people angry as well. People will probably give you some bad comments about your car. And you don’t want that.
But what is the worst thing when it comes to the squeaky belt is the problems that could arise if this belt possibly snaps or some other issue occurs.
Remember that this belt started to squeak for a reason. And this reason needs to be properly sorted out unless you want this belt to fail completely and possibly end up hurting your engine.
If a serpentine belt snaps or pops out, there is a high risk of the engine stalling on the highway and if the timing belt gets damaged, then things would much worse. So, bad that you don’t even want to imagine how expensive it could be and you could end up paying thousands of dollars for a brand new engine. For more context, check out our guide on the Hyundai Sonata engine replacement cost.
So, you get the idea why these belts are really important. But how to stop a squeaky belt? More on that, we are going to cover it in a bit.
Types Of Belts Used In Cars – Which One Is The Squeaky Belt
Since we elaborated more on the problem and learned what the squeaking noise really is and the dangers of the squeaking noises.
We think that now it is time to dive deeper into the problem and understand more about the different types of belts that are on your car. Because some cars have one while some of them have two belts or even more in some cases. Knowing the types will really help you learn how to stop a squeaky belt. So, if you want to learn more follow along.
1. Serpentine Belt – Very Squeaky Belt
The first type of belt that we are going to cover when it comes to sorting out how to stop a squeaky belt is the serpentine belt. But what is a serpentine belt?
Well, the serpentine belt is also known as a drive belt, accessory belt, alternator belt, fan belt, accessory belt, and many other names.
This belt is one that in most cases will cause a squeaky noise. But what this belt does? Well, this belt is in charge of powering the accessories in your engine.
All these components need to get power from somewhere. So, as you probably know, the crankshaft is basically the component that is producing this energy.
There a serpentine belt is routed from the crankshaft pulley to all of the accessories. Each of these accessories has an independent pulley that allows the shaft inside of the accessory to spin and then complete its task.
Without a serpentine belt, you are left without accessories and nothing will work on your car. The engine will eventually shut down after a couple of minutes or seconds because there is no power to spin the alternator and make power.
And as you probably know, each belt has a service interval. And so does the serpentine belt. If you don’t follow this interval closely, you will end up with serpentine belt noise and car making squeaking noise problem.
And you will be looking online at how to stop a squeaky belt. But more on that, we are going to cover it in a bit. Now let’s dive into the next type of belt that is out there that is really also very important.
2. Timing Belt – Not As Squeaky Belt
The second type of belt that we are going to cover before we dive into how to stop a squeaky belt is the timing belt. So, what is a timing belt? Can this belt squeak and cause noises? Let’s elaborate.
So, what is a timing belt? Well, a timing belt is a special belt that keeps the timing of the engine in check. So, what is engine timing?
Engine timing is a really important thing that you need to be aware of. In simple words, engine timing is the timing of the pistons and valves. When a piston moves up, the valve should close. When the piston comes down, the valve opens. Why is this necessary?
Well, mainly because of two reasons. First is the proper work of the engine and creating power. And the second reason is the situation that will avoid the pistons and valves collide with each other.
That’s right, if the engine timing is off, the pistons and valves will collide and there will be really major engine damage inside of the block. So, this could scrap your whole engine in a matter of seconds.
This is why you should track the intervals of when this belt should be replaced and replace it accordingly at a shop with experienced mechanics. Because perfectly aligning the belt is key if you don’t want to damage the engine. This is why at most shops, these jobs are done by the most experienced mechanics.
So, why we are talking about this belt? Does this belt squeak? Well, not quite. The reason is, that a ton of people are confusing these two belts and think that their timing belt is squeaking. Which is not quite possible. That’s why when you have a squeaky belt, it is definitely the serpentine belt.
Components Used For Belt Routing That Can Cause A Squeaky Belt
So, once we cleared some important things that are crucial when understanding this problem and learned that there are two belts. But only one belt could be causing squeaks, which is the serpentine belt.
And now we need to further understand the problem and dive into the components that are really important when it comes to belt routing. As you probably know, the serpentine belt needs to be properly routed to make sure that it doesn’t squeak and make you look for how to stop a squeaky belt.
1. Idler Pulleys
The first component in the belt assembly is the idler pulley. And these are notorious for causing squeaking noises and then making you look online for solutions on how to stop a squeaky belt. So, what is an idler pulley?
Well, an idler pulley is simply a pulley that does not have a particular purpose other than to route the belt. The idler pulley has a bearing inside and the pulley spins around its shaft freely.
Sometimes these idler pulleys tend to fail and wobble because of the bad bearings. So, when this happens, you will face problems, like in this case the problem with the bad serpentine belt sound.
2. Accessory Pulleys
The second component that usually fails and causes the squeaky sound is one of the accessory pulleys.
As you probably know, each accessory has its own pulley and this pulley rotates all of the time. These specific pulleys also have bearings inside them.
And what can happen is that sometimes they can fail and the shaft will lose balance and will start to wobble. In this situation, the belt will get loose and will start to move around. And as this happens, there will be noises appearing. And you will start learning how to stop a squeaky belt. But more on that, we will cover it a bit later on in the article. Now let’s cover the last component of the belt assembly.
3. Belt Tensioners
And the last component that is really important in the serpentine belt assembly is the tensioner. This tensioner can fail and cause you to look online for how to stop a squeaky belt. So, what is a tensioner?
Well, the tensioner is a special component that is designed to hold tension on the belt. In other words, to keep the belt tight and avoid the belt developing squeaking noises. The component is basically a pulley that can be tightened. In the following chapters, we are going to learn about the different types of tensioners.
Types Of Tensioners
We have mentioned the belt tensioner as one of the most common causes of causing a squeaky belt and making you learn how to stop a squeaky belt.
And when it comes to the belt tensioner, it is worth mentioning that there are two types of tensioners. And we are going to discuss both of them in the following chapters.
The first type of tensioner that we are going to cover is the hydraulic tensioner. So, what does this mean?
Well, this means that the tensioner works with the help of hydraulic fluid. There is a small piston inside of the tensioner that moves on the input of the wrench and tightens up the belt.
This also means that there is a hydraulic fluid inside as well. So, what can happen is that this tensioner can start leaking hydraulic fluid. And as it leaks, the tension will be lost and you will be trying to learn how to stop a squeaky belt.
2. Spring Driven Tensioners
The second type that we are going to cover is the spring-driven tensioner. This tensioner works with the help of a metal spring that is loaded as you tighten up the tensioner.
This tensioner is a far more convenient and far better application. But it still can fail and cause problems. Namely, the spring inside can fail and cause mayhem and an annoying squeaky sound. But how you can diagnose this problem? And how to stop a squeaky belt? Let’s elaborate more on that in the following chapter.
Diagnosing And Learning How To Stop A Squeaky Belt
Now before we learn how to stop a squeaky belt, let’s take a look at how you can diagnose a bad serpentine belt. This is a really important topic to cover before we dive into the squeaking bit of the problem. So, how you can diagnose a bad serpentine belt?
Well, the first way is to know the age of the belt. If the belt was not replaced for more than 10 years and the car has more than 80,000 miles, then you definitely need to replace this component on your car.
Also, perform a visual inspection and see what is going on under the hood. Check the belt for possible cracks with a flashlight. If the belt has cracks then you will have to replace it. If the belt is pretty new and seems ok, then you need to move on to the following chapter because this problem is probably caused by something else.
How To Find The Bad Idler Pulley Or Tensioner
Now let’s move on in our diagnostics and learn how to find a bad idler pulley or a bad tensioner. Knowing this will help you out when it comes to how to stop a squeaky belt.
So, the thing you want to do is to make sure that you start the engine and observe all the pulleys. See if there is a slight movement. Pay attention to wobbling. If a pulley wobbles, you can pinpoint the problem right away.
But in most cases, you will not notice a wobble. So, what you can do is cut a plastic bottle in half and put a screwdriver in it.
Then just use the tip of the screwdriver to touch each of these pulleys one by one while the car is working. The noisiest one is probably the one that is bad and needs to be replaced. How you can do this procedure, can check out the video that we attached.
How To Stop A Squeaky Belt
Now let’s dive into business and learn how to stop a squeaky belt, what can you do in this situation to stop this from happening ever again?
Well, in most cases, when you have this problem, the issue is with the tensioner. It is either a worn tensioner or pulley that is long overdue a service. Or one that failed prematurely.
So, the first thing that you want to do is to locate the tensioner. And then if you have a hydraulic tensioner, check for leaks. If there is a leak, this tensioner has to go.
If not, tighten up the tensioner with a wrench and see if this sorted out your problem. Or if it didn’t, just locate the pulley that is faulty with the method in the previous video and fix it because if you don’t, this problem will be there forever.
New Serpentine Belt Squeal
Sometimes people replace the serpentine belt and their car keeps squealing and they try to learn how to stop a squeaky belt. So, why is this the case?
Well, this is mainly the case because the belt is either not tightened enough or it is too tight. Make sure that you double-check the tension.
Or else, you can use some elbow grease to smoothen up things a little bit. Some people use soapy water, but just don’t overdo it.
In this article, we have covered quite a bit when it comes to the problem of squeaky belts. First, we elaborated more on the problem and why it appears. Then we learned the types of belts as well as other belt components that are really important for the work of the belt.
Then we moved on to diagnosing the problem and locating the faulty belt or pulley depending on the situation and how to stop a squeaky belt. This problem in most cases can be sorted by re-tightening and tightening the belt. But in some cases, this isn’t actually the case.
Now let’s answer some frequently asked questions.
What Causes A Belt To Squeal
In most cases, this problem is caused by a loose belt tensioner. Try to re-tension the belt tensioner and see if this fixed the problem. If not, there might be one of the pulleys that went bad.
What Does A Bad Serpentine Belt Sound Like
When this belt goes bad usually starts to squeal. But this isn’t always the case, you should more focus on the visual aspects and see for possible cracks. If it’s cracked, it has to go and be replaced.
Car Squealing When Starting
This is often caused by a loose serpentine belt. The solution for the problem is retightening the belt tensioner and seeing if this sorts out the problem.
Why Is My Car Making A Squeaking Noise
Usually, this problem is caused by a bad belt tensioner or a bad pulley. You will first need to retighten the belt tensioner and if this doesn’t help you will have to check the pulleys.
How To Fix Squeaky A Belt
The first thing that you can try is to tighten the tensioner pulley. If this doesn’t sort the problem, then the issue is probably in one of the other pulleys.
How To Tell Which Pulley Is Squealing
You can use the screwdriver method. Place the top of a screwdriver in a plastic cone. You can cut a plastic bottle for this. Then start the engine and touch the side of the pulley one by one with the tip of the screwdriver. Usually, the ones that produce big noise on this test have to be replaced.