Discover Why Your Engine or Drivetrain is Making a Chirping Noise
The normal sounds your car will make do not include a chirping sound. This
noise is trying to tell you there is a problem which if neglected could lead to
a breakdown. When a chirping noise is detected locate the area of the car it's being generated
from. If the noise is being generated while the car is being driven have a helper ride
along in the rear seat to give a different perspective on the origin of the chirping noise.
It's common for a chirping noise to come and go depending on the conditions such
as hot or cold weather.
Is it Safe to Drive?
Anytime your car is making an abnormal noise it will lead to a problem that
will get nothing but worse. The louder the noise is the worse the problem is.
Your personal safety should be your top priority though. Never put yourself in
danger because you car is making a sound. Always pull to a safe spot to try and
figure out what the noise could be.
Let's Get Started!
This guide will cover engine and drivetrain related issues and show you the
top causes for a chirping noise to be generated which could be many things. We
have assembled the most popular causes below;
Cracked and Glazed Serpentine Belt
A serpentine belt is used to
supply engine power to the water pump, alternator, power steering pump and air
conditioner compressor. When this belt starts to wear it becomes glazed and will
loose its ability to grip the pulleys which can produce a chirping sound while
the engine is running. This is a normal occurrence as the belt is a normal
maintenance item. This chipping sound will follow the engine RPM (engine speed).
Inspect the belt for glazing which is a shinny
condition inside the belt grooves. To check if this the problem spray a little
WD40 on the belt while the engine is running if the noise goes away the
belt needs to be replaced
Bad Serpentine Belt Tensioner Pulley
Your cars engine uses a serpentine belt tensioner to hold pressure on the
serpentine belt. This tensioner has a bearing and wheel that the belt rides
against and when it goes bad
will make a chirping noise. To check for this problem remove the belt and spin
the tensioner wheel by hand and listed for the chirping sound indicating the
serpentine belt tensioner must be replaced
Dry Rocker Arms
The valve train of your engine is located in the top of the cylinder head. If
the oil supply galleys become plugged with gunk due to poor maintenance the
rocker arms can make a chirping sound as there are forced move by the camshaft.
To check for this condition the valve cover must be removed and the rocker arms
inspected for discolor indicating a problem. The rocker arms must be removed and
the oil passages cleaned to fix the chirping noise problem.
Bad Bearing Hub
An axle bearing hub is designed to support
the weight of the vehicle by allowing the wheels to rotate. These bearings are manufactured
with high grade steel that resists wear under extreme conditions. When an axle bearing
hub fails it allows metal to contact metal under high pressure with a linear motion creating
a chirping noise. You can sometimes change the pitch of the noise by turning
the steering wheel a little one way and than the other while driving the car to confirm
hub is bad and needs replacement
Driveshaft U Joint
A drive shaft U joint
is designed to act as a rotating junction that can be flexible while still
transferring energy from the transmission to the rear differential. On some universal
joints a zerk fitting is used for lubrication while others are
manufactured with a proper amount of grease and do not need service. If a
universal joint fails it can make a chirping noise that follows the speed of the
car which is more noticeable at slow speeds and fades at higher speeds. This
failure can also be accompanied by a rust colored dust around the U joint.
Clutch Throw Out Bearing
Vehicles equipped with a standard transmission
utilize a clutch to act as a controllable coupler to the drive wheels. A clutch
uses a throw out bearing to press against the pressure plate to disengage the
clutch disc. When this bearing fails it can make a chirping noise when pressing down on the clutch pedal indicating the
bearing needs replacement
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Article first published 2016-11-26