Step by step guide on how to troubleshoot and repair an automotive howling noise,
this information pertains to all cars.
Difficulty Scale: 4 of 10
Tools and Supplies Needed
- Wrench Set
- Screwdriver set
- Protective eye wear and gloves
Begin with the vehicle on level ground, engine off with the parking brake set.
- As the tires of the vehicle contact the
ground the tire surface must be smooth for a quite ride. If the tires become cupped
or scalloped due to improper balance or alignment they can produce a howling sound
at various speeds.
Step 2 - An axle bearing is designed to support
the vehicle while in motion, when these bearings fail they can cause a howling sound
which is sometimes more noticeable when the car is turning.
Tire Tread Scallop
Step 3 - The power steering system will produce
a howling noise when the fluid level has dropped and the pump is scavenging for fluid,
remove the cap and check the
Failed Axle Bearing
Step 4 - The car differential is designed to transfer
power from the engine to the wheels, when this unit starts to fail it can cause
a howling noise when in operation. This is due to excessive wear in the bearings
or gear set which will produce metal shavings that are gathered on the internal
Power Steering Fluid Level
Step 5 - Automobiles equipped with a fan clutch
(rear wheel drive) can experience a howling noise when the fan clutch has locked,
to check for this problem start with the engine off, gently check the fan by pushing
it in rotation, the fan should move freely, if not replacement is required.
Differential Metal Shavings
Step 6 - An automatic transmission can produce
a howling noise when the
filter has plugged or the fluid level is low.
Move Fan Clutch
Step 7 - A standard transmission can make howling
noises when a bearing or gear has worn and is failing.
Plugged Transmission Filter
Step 8 - The serpentine belt and related pulley
and tensioner bearings can create a howling noise when failed. To check these bearings
remove the belt
and spin each accessory to locate the failed bearing.
Manual Transmission Gear (Cut Away)
A howling noise can be related to minor and major problems. As with all car related
noises, detecting the origin of the noise can be difficult. A backseat passenger
can sometimes help by providing a new perspective on the origin of the noise. Some
Ford vehicles are equipped with an idle air control valve (IAC) which can produce
a howling or honking noise when failed. Some engine air injection systems can create
a howling sound that is audible even though there is no malfunction, just an undesirable
Serpentine Belt Tensioner Pulley
Article first published 2016-02-04