Do you ever start your vehicle and hear a little chirp chirp like the sound of a little bird? What about a horrific Squeeling sound that sends shivers up your spine? Or possibly make your eardrums bleed? Okay it might not be that bad but it will definitely make you wonder...
What the hell is that awful noise!
Father and Son Replace idler pulley
Most of today’s vehicles are super quiet inside. Dang near sound proof. They are so quiet you can barely hear the engine running let alone a siren behind us. Most of us just jump in, start it up, and take off. Then wonder why you are getting funny looks from the car next to you or the 75 year old man speed walking, who came to a screeching halt to stare at your noisy car. Your car is chirpin’ like a bird or squeelin’ like a pig and you have your stereo cranked up and you can’t hear a thing. Everyone seems to be in such a hurry that they fail to do the simple things to keep their car running and avoid a breakdown in a bad part of the neighborhood or out in the middle of nowhere.
One simple thing you can do is, start your car, get out and listen to what the engine sounds like. Do that a few times and you will train your ear to know what you vehicle is suppose to sound like. Well unless your car is jacked up already then... ummm ya you got issues. But if it is a good running vehicle, you will know when something is going bad or something is wrong just by the sound it is making. They all have a nice rhythm when they are running. Some slight ticking noises, blowing sounds from a fan, you can pick all these sounds out if you just take a second and listen.
Parts wear out, bearings fail, and things just flat out break. So when Mama Splatts started up her Lincoln Navigator and @lil-splatts told me it was making some funny chirping noise I figure I had better go check it out. I tell you what, it sure is nice having a son on top of things like that. Just like the time when Mama Splatts put gasoline into our Diesel Ford Excursion. Right after she started it up she said,
My son yelled from the back seat,
“Turn it off!! Turn it off!!”
That quick thinking by my son saved us from some very very expensive repairs let’s just say that. So whenever he raises an eyebrow to an odd sound I tend to listen up. Sure enough there was a little birdie chirping under the hood of Mama Splatts’ car. Typically this is from a pulley or even the serpentine belt. To find out if it is a pulley or if it is the belt is a whole different story. Shoot even being able to see the belt is a bit of a challenge on some of these newer vehicles. I mean this 2005 Lincoln Navigator wouldn’t be considered “Newer” by some standards but hey
To think, it has only gotten worse
Alright, now that we have located the belt and we can see most of the pulleys we need to determine which pulley it is. There is a A/C pulley, crank shaft pulley, idler pulleys, tensioner pulley, power steering pulley.... it could be any of those.
Now we don’t want to go and just start changing out parts hoping for the best, nor do we want to wait and let this high pitch chirp become something bigger. Like the near catastrophic incident we avoided when towing my camp trailer a couple years ago. This 3.5 inch metal pulley could have be launched into my engine compartment due to a failed bearing.
We don’t want that to happen again!
So we aren’t just going to “Guess and Check” our way to fixing this problem or just let it develop. That could take forever and cost a bit more money than we want to. Also a few more busted knuckles too considering these tight spaces we are working in.
Start the car and pop the hood. Take off any big plastic covers that could possibly deflect the sound you are looking for. With this one I can tell that it is coming from one of the pulleys on the driver side of the vehicle. There are a few different pulleys over there so this is how we are going to narrow it down and find out exactly which one it is.
Yep, good ol’ WD-40 is gonna do wonders for us on this one. Especially with that nice straw on the end. While @lil-splatts was in getting some warm clothes on, I began to work on finding the squeaky pulley.
Shut the engine off. Trust me, you don’t want to accidentally hit your hand on the fan or attempt to spray WD-40 with the engine running. It’s pretty windy under there and it will go everywhere. So spray the inner portion of one pulley then start the engine back up.
Simply listen to see if the squeak or squeal has stopped. If you still hear it, shut off the engine and spray another.
Keep doing this until the squeak or chirp stops. You just need a tiny bit and try not get it on the surface of any of the pullies. Lucky for us it is just an idler pulley and not the power steering pump pulley or A/C compressor pulley. The idler pulley is just there as a way to guide the belt in the right direction.
In order to get the idler pulley changed we need to gather up a couple tools and remove the belt.
- 1/2 drive ratchet or breaker bar
- 3/8 drive ratchet
- 13mm socket
First off we need to remove the belt. Locate the tensioner pulley. The pulley will be mounted on some sort of spring loaded arm and not attached to any sort of pump. It should also have a square hole in the end close to the pulley.
Now this is where @lil-splatts comes into play. As I pull back on the tensioner pulley, creating slack in the belt. He sticks his little skinny hands in there and slides the belt off of the pulley. You can do this by yourself but why, when you have a helper. It is always a good idea to draw out the path of the belt in order to make sure you get it back on correctly on a piece of paper.
Now that the belt is off of the pulley, we can remove the pulley using the 13mm socket.
Remove the old pulley and install the new. It’s that easy... just look... it’s... that... easy...
It’s a tight fit in there but he was up for the challenge :wink:wink I couldn’t fit my arms in there without removing the whole intake and possibly some other stuff but the boy has this one in the bag
Now all that is left to do is get the belt back into place. I can’t stress enough to double and triple check that the belt is on correctly. Not just the path that the belt travels but also that the grooves are lined up on the grooved pullies. No I have never misaligned a belt and shredded it... nope never... not me... not I... never done that... not once... but maybe twice....
Once you are satisfied with the placement of the belt, start up the engine and enjoy not hearing any squeaks, squeals or chirps. Let the engine run for a bit with the hood popped up just to make sure you have solved the problem and your belt isn’t going to shred.
Another possible catastrophe avoided by doing some simple maintenance. A big thanks to my son @lil-splatts for helping me with this project. 1/2 of this post payout is going to his account. I believe in giving credit where it is due.
Great job Son
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