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Alternator belt squeal (even after new belt)


PaulZero
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My girlfriend's Ka has had a bit of a squeak since she got it at the end of December, which I was 90% sure was coming from the alternator belt. I thought it might need tightening, but after learning there was an automatic tensioner on the belt loop I just ordered a new belt (they're cheap enough so I thought might as well, worst case scenario if the current one is actually fine I can just keep it as a spare).

Anyway the existing belt was fine, and after the installation of the new belt it still has a bit of a squeak coming from the front offside, right where the belt is. I've also noticed the car screeches a bit when at full lock. I had an old Proton with belt issues and it did both of these things when the belt wasn't tight enough (that was manually tensioned though, so it was mostly me being too lazy to tighten it).

I'm going to check power steering fluid tonight to make sure the full lock screeching isn't just the fluid running low. The general belt squeal is happening in all driving conditions and it comes and goes. My girlfriend tells me it's more noticeable in lower gears and especially in start / stop traffic, she thinks it might disappear entirely in higher gears although I think it's possible the faster driving is generating more noise and masking the sound. Depressing the clutch will make it disappear temporarily (comes back when you lift off the clutch). It does not get noticeably worse when you turn on things like heated screens or the headlights.

I've read that the tensioners can get a bit feeble and need replacing, however it seemed pretty tight when I put the new belt on. Apart from that I'm at a loss, if it is the belt the noise could be any one of the devices connected to it and I'm not sure how to diagnose it. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

Edit: From more digging about people also get clutch bearing issues on the Ka? It's done 45,000 miles and as far as I know is on its first clutch. Wouldn't know how to go about testing for this mind.

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What year is the KA. Aren't they stretch belts? Not auto tensioners?

I know the timing belts have auto tensioners but didn't know/think the aux belts did

www.yorkshiredetailing.co.uk - approved resellers of the Highest quality detailing & Valeting supplies

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It's a 56 plate, first registered 2007. It's definitely an auto tensioner, I had to use it to swap the belt over.

I checked the power steering fluid tonight and that's fine. It also didn't screech at full lock tonight so that might be unrelated. I took it for a drive and noticed that the noise - which I'd describe as a subtle whistling - is present constantly once you get up to at least 10-15mph. It only disappears whilst your foot is on the clutch, then it comes back as soon as you come off it. It doesn't come and go or change in pitch, it's just constant.

I can't reproduce it when it's parked up and idling though. I ran it with the front and rear heated windows on, AC on full, headlights on, and there wasn't a sound from the belt so I'm starting to think it's not that. Turning on any of these things doesn't affect it when it's running either, the noise is the same whatever. I'd have thought if it was the alternator putting it under load would increase the noise?

If not the belt, could it be something else? Clutch release bearings seem to be a common fault with these things?

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You should have added that you can only hear the squeal when you are driving - if it was stationary you should have been able to hear exactly where it was coming from and it would have ruled out the alternator as it spins all the time!

Clutch - does it squeal with the clutch fully depressed?


 

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11 hours ago, Omendata said:

You should have added that you can only hear the squeal when you are driving - if it was stationary you should have been able to hear exactly where it was coming from and it would have ruled out the alternator as it spins all the time!

Clutch - does it squeal with the clutch fully depressed?

Sorry about that, I wasn't sure when I first posted if it could be reproduced when stationary, but it really doesn't seem that way.

Would I be right in thinking it also rules out most other things connected to the belt, water pump, power steering pump etc?

When you depress the clutch the noise totally disappears, only to reappear if you take your foot off the clutch. Generally it'll make the noise constantly once you get over about 15mph and only stop when you either depress the clutch to change gear or when you slow down to stop.

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Thanks for the feedback. Took it to the garage this morning, and it didn't make a sound the whole way there which was just typical (it's been pretty much constant once it's running). Hopefully they'll be able to replicate it and have some ideas when I pick it up later. Will post back if I know any more anyway.

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The garage couldn't replicate the noise either, it just didn't want to do it today. Anyway about 10 minutes after driving it away the alternator belt started squealing loudly, and still squealed regardless of what I did with the clutch. I pulled over and got the bonnet open and confirmed it was the belt. It didn't last more than a few minutes then went back to normal and hasn't done it since.

Anyway my girlfriend and I just went to the supermarket and noticed the background noise was back and still disappearing when the clutch is pressed. I can confirm it's coming from the front offside, pretty much where the belt is, and personally I think it sounds like a subtle belt squeak, probably being masked by the engine noise.

I tried about a dozen times to record it but because of the engine noise it's impossible to get anything clear. The best video I have only has about 2 or 3 seconds of noise on it... You can view it here, there's an annotation saying when the noise is audible but you'll probably need it up quite loud. Probably worth pointing out though that I've shown that video to two different people and both think it sounds different, so probably not good enough to pin a diagnosis on.

My plan at the moment I think is to get the belt off and check all the pulleys for play, and give them a good clean. I don't know what else I can do really.

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Hmm i remember that sound well - it happened on my old Opel Manta when i drove the brake shoes into the metal and they started grinding into the actual hub.

Thats how it starts off but it happens every time you would apply the brake - i would have a look at your suspension , wheel hubs , brake shims and that sort of thing,
Have you checked your brake shoes?

As it only happens when the car is moving and the clutch is depressed then its either clutch or perhaps the wheels?

If it was the alternator it would happen when the car is idle - you could use an auto stethoscope like Edd China uses or improvise using a block of wood stick thingy!

Even better find a quiet country road and have your mate lie across the bonnet and listen for the noise as you drive lol
In my shame I have to admit I have done that myself!
 

 

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Three different people, three different interpretations! I knew that video was useless. :laugh:

I can see what you mean though, it does sound a bit like brakes on the way out in the video; unfortunately the noise happened before and after I fitted new disks and pads on the front wheels last weekend, and there's no noise coming from the back. I couldn't see anything obviously amiss whilst I was down there but I think when I'm checking and cleaning the pulleys I'll give the whole area a much better inspection. Won't be able to do this for another week unfortunately, but if I see anything obviously knackered I'll get photos.

Wondering if it'd be safe to chuck it on axle stands and "drive" it off the front wheels (not whilst someone is sat in it obviously). I could get someone "driving" it with their hands on the pedals whilst I listen up front. I've had it idling on stands and it was fine, but I'm not sure how safe it'd be putting it in gear and running it. It's just the only way I can think of to try and replicate it / actually hear where it's coming from short of riding the bonnet (though I'd definitely do that if I was a bit younger :biggrin:).

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If it's brake squeal sometimes after you fit new pads  they will squeal on rusty uneven discs.  If this is the case new front discs required. 

To test auxiliary belt you need to drive the engine from cold and within a minute turn wheel fully right or left During this period the belt is under load from water pump and power steering if it slips then its your belt under strain from a worn bearing on your water pump. 

 

To test alternator.  Turn on engine from cold lift bonnet get friend to listen to alternator. Now switch on all lights and heater. Listen for a high pitch whine coming from alternator... This means it's failing. Power steering pump rarely fails in street k's and sport kas but to test turn whell fully left and right when stationary listen for exaggerated whine. 

 

I reckon from all that's been said you need new water pump and new auxiliary belt. I had very similar symptoms and cured them by replacing these 2 cheap parts. 2 hour job tops.

 

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2 hours ago, andybadcats said:

If it's brake squeal sometimes after you fit new pads  they will squeal on rusty uneven discs.  If this is the case new front discs required. 

To test auxiliary belt you need to drive the engine from cold and within a minute turn wheel fully right or left During this period the belt is under load from water pump and power steering if it slips then its your belt under strain from a worn bearing on your water pump. 

To test alternator.  Turn on engine from cold lift bonnet get friend to listen to alternator. Now switch on all lights and heater. Listen for a high pitch whine coming from alternator... This means it's failing. Power steering pump rarely fails in street k's and sport kas but to test turn whell fully left and right when stationary listen for exaggerated whine. 

I reckon from all that's been said you need new water pump and new auxiliary belt. I had very similar symptoms and cured them by replacing these 2 cheap parts. 2 hour job tops.

Thanks for the suggestions!

I definitely don't think it's the front brakes, I did a full disk / pad change when I did them the other week, and there wasn't any noise before or after that was anything like brake noise.

I've already tried overloading the alternator with both heated screens, the lights, air con, you name it, and there's no noise at all so I'd ruled that out.

I have also already tried putting it in full lock whilst parked and there was definitely a whine of some sort but I don't know how much noise is normal. Should there be any noise at all?

I'll definitely give it a go this weekend from cold though like you suggested, and see if there's any noise when I steer 

 

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I think Andy might have it - water pump if you have obviated everything else.

"Younger?" lol you are never too young , I'm in my forties and still go climbing trees and Ibiza and Amsterdam wild holidays - you are never too old until you start saying "im too old".

Women apparently go for the immature but old thing - Pity that - still no takers for my immature but old "ladees" Streetka lol

 

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20 hours ago, Omendata said:

Yeah i would agree cant go wrong with rubbing some lubricant on and moving it up and down a good few times!

>;o)

Good tip there Russ!

Water on yer belt not heard that yin afore!

 

Water near Alternator equals possible damage to electrics 

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Nah not if its a dribble you get loads of water splashed up when driving and besides the diode pack is usually sealed with a black cap on most alternators I have refurbished. My old Ford Escort Mk II even has a sealed unit so would be very bad design if water could get in as diodes are easily fecked with moisture!

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for the replies everyone. Still not had a chance to rip it apart and poke about.

Hopefully I might have some time off over Easter, can do it then.

I'll drop a reply on here when I know more anyway. Cheers!

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