Randomly occurring noise in engine compartment

Tiny
CVCIVIC
  • MEMBER
  • 1999 HONDA CIVIC
  • 1.6L
  • 4 CYL
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 170,000 MILES
While driving a strange noise sounding like a revved up electric motor (kind of like when you turn on the windshield washers when there is no solution in the reservoir) kicks in. This occurs very randomly. I put the transmission in N and it remains weather I accelerate then or let the engine drop to idle speeds (while coasting at speed). The only way it stops is if I slow to a stop. I do not have to turn off the engine. It happens going up hills, going down hills, or even pulling up to a stop to park (but then it stops when the wheels stop moving).

I am confused and my dealership has never heard of this before.

My best guess is that it is the thermostatically triggered fan on the radiator. Perhaps the motor is kicking in and not spinning the fan sometimes, or something like that. Or it could be something to do with the power train, but there are not engine lights or noticeable impacts on driving or power or anything.
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Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 AT 11:04 AM

16 Replies

Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
See if the radiator or condenser fan blades or motor shafts are loose anything hitting the fan blades?When it happens open the hood and listen to where the noise is coming from?
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Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 AT 11:25 AM
Tiny
CVCIVIC
  • MEMBER
Well, it only happens when I am driving and stops when the wheels stop, so I can't check that.
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Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 AT 11:59 AM
Tiny
CVCIVIC
  • MEMBER
And furthermore, it seems that the fan blades are not touching anything. And I have even seen the fan on after I stop and the noise has stopped.

Weird, hun?
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Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 AT 12:07 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Sorry I thought I read it was doing it with it moving
the noises that only happen will driving are very difficult to diagnose then you end random your worse nightmare to figure out. They have a tool called chassis ear made by a company called steelman. You can connect aligator clips with mics to different parts of the car. Then you move the knob to different numbers on the box where different mics are located. There are like 5 or 6 mics for it works great but with it being random it would have to be hooked up all the time.
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Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 AT 12:34 PM
Tiny
CVCIVIC
  • MEMBER
I guess if someone could tell me if this model of the Honda Civic DX Automatic has any sort of electric motors that have to do with the transmission or engine that might be going on the fritz or shorting or something.

It is a real mystery. Random. Yes. Only while moving. Yes.

Sounds like a small electric motor whirring. Could it be the starter kicking on but not engaging the flywheel? Would that stop by stopping the car? It is just weird, like I said.
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Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 AT 2:21 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
The starter wouldn't do that there are solenoids that shift the transmission but there not motors they just turn off and on.
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Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 AT 6:58 PM
Tiny
CVCIVIC
  • MEMBER
Well, keep thinking about it. I will tell you if I figure it out. Please let me know if you come up with something.

Thanks.
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Thursday, October 9th, 2014 AT 7:05 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
You should check into the steelman chassis ear that would really help.
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Thursday, October 9th, 2014 AT 7:46 PM
Tiny
CVCIVIC
  • MEMBER
I noticed tonight that when I apply the brakes, the sound changes. I am not sure why, but no matter how fast I am going the sound starts at the same intensity, but if I step on the brake peddle, even just a little, it changes, decreasing in intensity. It does not matter how hard I apply the brakes.

Could this be a break thing? They still seem to work effectively and the fluid levels are stable.
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Thursday, October 9th, 2014 AT 10:15 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
I would check the brakes it could be your brake pad sensor scraping the rotors to let you know the brake pads are getting low on material.
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Thursday, October 9th, 2014 AT 10:40 PM
Tiny
CVCIVIC
  • MEMBER
It is not that consistent. I don't think it is the little metal tab that touches the rotor when the brakes get worn down. It is really like a whirring sound of some sort of motor that decreases on application of the brakes. And whether I just touch the brakes or if I push hard, it is the same.

I will pull the brakes and take a look at that as well though, just to make sure.
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Friday, October 10th, 2014 AT 11:43 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
Keep me posted on what you find.
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Friday, October 10th, 2014 AT 10:56 PM
Tiny
CVCIVIC
  • MEMBER
My car hasn't done the noise since October. After the heat wave broke in California, it just stopped doing it. That makes me think it has something to do with the fan. I am guessing there is some problem between the motor for the cooling fan and the fan blades. Perhaps the wind going through the radiator pushes the fan blades in a way that disrupts the contact with the motor. That is why it stops when the speed drops to less then 5 mph or so.

'Tis a mystery still.
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Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 AT 11:50 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
If that were the case I dont see why ambient temperature would stop it from happening.
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Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 AT 12:47 PM
Tiny
CVCIVIC
  • MEMBER
Because the fan is activated by a thermostat and if it is not activated due to engine or ambient temperatures being high, then the noise would not occur.

Just my logic on it. I only ever heard the fan activate during hot weather or heavy stop and go driving. Since I don't do much stop and go, and the weather has gotten cooler, it might make sense.
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Wednesday, November 19th, 2014 AT 9:44 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
  • EXPERT
The only difference is in cooler weather the fan wont come on as long or often but if the fan is coming on now. Because of the cooler weather and the way your driving it that would make sense.
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Thursday, November 20th, 2014 AT 6:35 AM

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