2005 Dodge Stratus Cold weather squeal

Tiny
GREYNOMAD
  • MEMBER
  • 2005 DODGE STRATUS
  • 2.4L
  • 4 CYL
  • FWD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 170,000 MILES
Details:
Dodge Stratus 2005 Sedan
Engine 2.4 DOHC (EDZ)
Ref: No turbo, Free spinning engine design
Me:
I live in St Louis and work at Indianapolis as a manufacturing engineering for aircraft engine manufacturer. I have a history of working with cars, however at 59 I try not to. Oh, joys where ’66 SS Malibu and a 71’ Z28 (and yes a wish I still had them). Use to cam them, add big carbs, tires etc… they were good days.

History:
On March 31, 2013, - (1 am) west of Effingham Ill in route to Indianapolis (Hwy 70 – speed 70mph) broken timing belt. Note: temp in 50’s F. Towed to Effingham Ill by AAA.

Repairs:
3-31-2013: Water pump, idler, tension arm, belt and plastic cover (broken by belt).
Cost with labor $780.00. Given one year warranty. Shop was not my local, but a Effingham location (about 150K miles).

2-28-2014: same shop replaced accessory drive belt and relocated bottom pulley (170K miles).

Problem:
Squealing (Howling) sound (like a rub) occurring during single digit temperatures of winter 2014. Can hear moderately loud squeal, with hood, doors, windows all closed sitting in car with vent fan running. The sound is not the fan. Concern is belt rub and failure; 2014 winter has been too long, too cold.

Taken to my local shop; they stated the sound seemed to be coming from within the timing belt cover and cost would be $600.00+ to go into (temp was about 10 degrees). I returned the car to Effingham repair shop and the temperature was 35 F+ on a sunny day… felt like spring. And of course no sound; they examined it and found that the accessories pulley (bottom) was not all the way on (about 1 groove out). The accessory drive belt had started to fray. They relocated the pulley, replaced the belt and apologized; charge $0.00.
Now 8 degree morning, and it’s back to haunt me. Squealing described above. I started at 1 am at 8 degrees in St Louis and 250 miles later in Indy the squeal was still there. Note squeals only at idle (750 RPM), increase to 1000 RPM and it goes away, so during highway travel it is not squealing. That same day, by noon we had 17 degrees and no squeal.

What is the most likely cause? Is it idler, tension arm, miss located or over tightened plastic cover? Or even a thermo reduced plastic cover rubbing at single digits only… similar to a car horn contacts sounding on a very cold day? Is this something damaged and failure is only a matter of time? Possibly it is just an annoying squeal caused by vibration at 750 RPM? It doesn’t seem to be an accessory bearing, as a stethoscope seems to lead me to the cover, however best judgment is difficult at night at single digit temperatures.
The biggest problem is how can I resolve this on a warm sunny day when I am not freezing my %#$@* off. Dangerous thoughts were (past tense) reduce the engine parts temperature by dry ice or a co2 fire extinguisher. Bad deal… requires very vented work area; gloves and eye protection and where exactly would I spray it. Do know any drive in meat lockers?
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Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 AT 3:44 PM

3 Replies

Tiny
HMAC300
  • EXPERT
Any time the belt is replaced the tensioner should be as well, spray water on it if goes away it's a belt /tensioner problem.
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Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 AT 7:04 AM
Tiny
GREYNOMAD
  • MEMBER
I agree; and the timing belt tension arm was replaced. On the other side the accessory drive tension arm was not; and I will try some spray lube. But again squeal isn't around during warm days. If the squeal is a accessory drive tension arm bearing, time should take a toll and by mid spring single digits may not matter. A squeal I should hear!

I appreciate the comments. I know my chances are slim that I will get that one person that says my 2.4 dodge did exactly the same thing . If so I might find some comfort depending on their corrective actions. If it was truly just a vibration, it would not be worth my efforts to repair. But a rub, even if it occurs on some infrequent winter days could cause me a problem given my travel between cities. Biggest concern is for to whittle away at the plastic form the inside out until it melts and break away occurs. March of 2013, when the timing belt broke I had a nice evening, if that can be said for a break down. The moon was full, the evening warm for March and I had a full phone charge (and available service) and a AAA card. You take it in stride and deal with it. After all I did ignore the replacement mile date and time took its toll. Single digital times and related problems pose a greater risk. I travel with a sleeping bag and a blanket or two, but a cold night of camping isn t my wish. I can t count the slide offs I have seen this winter.

I pondered why we even have those covers over the rubber clogged timing belts; we don t cover the accessory drive belts. Any drag race fan has seen the blower drive belts, right? But then maybe a piece of road debris or a breakaway piece of the weakened cover could leverage the belt off? The SST concord crash was a small piece of debris on runway small things can result in terrible events.

I will be taking one more run at the original repair shop. Not sure if it was a smart use of a smart phone, but I recorded the noise that 8 degree morning and again later after the day s warmer temp s had eliminated it. I can clearly hear the difference; so if the repair shop agrees I might get them to take another run at it. For a non local shop, they have been quite willing to work with me. Hopefully I won t wear out my welcome. Removing the accessory belt, pulley and cover is time consuming and if the results aren t visible. It could be a little awkward. This Friday is my drop by; I haven t called. It might be easier to shun me away over the phone, so I will take my chances in person. I think I can be more convincing in person. If that doesn't result in something definitive. Winter, regardless of the groundhog can't last forever.

Warmer weather should allow me to nose around; maybe pull the serpentine off and hand spin the others. The sound and feel without a load on bearings can say a lot. Also with that belt gone I should be able to run the engine (timing and water pump will still exist); ac power steering and "alternator" won't be an immediate concern for a drive way idle. Maybe a slight hand pressure on the cover. Less than 5-10 pounds and if I get a rub inside it may indicate things are a little too close. 4 banger's timing belt I have never worked on. A trip to a salvage yard may help. Find a Junker, conveniently raised up and have at it. Mistakes won't matter.

I will post again next week.
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Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 AT 9:53 AM
Tiny
HMAC300
  • EXPERT
I worked with engineers for 32 years and you gys just try to think things out way to much. Just replace the tensioner and see what happens lol.
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Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 AT 12:14 PM

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