A common complaint is of a small high pitched squeal from the belts at engine start up. This normally is told to last 0-5 seconds before stopping on its own accord. While belt replacement often cures the problem, it is equally important to accurately investigate the cause of the belt’s noise.
A case study example is a 2004 Toyota Highlander that came into our facility. The vehicle demonstrated a classic belt noise at startup only and had been occurring for several months with no change. The belt was removed from the vehicle for inspection and found to be saturated with moisture. The belt was not “wet” but definitely was not as dry as a rubber belt should be.
Further inspection found that the vehicle’s radiator was leaking coolant onto the belt drive. This was occurring all the time, even with the engine not running. As a result, the belt was getting dripped on constantly. While the vehicle was in motion the amount was not substantial enough with the engines constant rotation to produce a noise. However, when sitting in the same place overnight lubricating the same spot on the belt the case was not the same, resulting in noise from excess moisture.
The temperature gauge on the vehicle did not indicate that the engine was running hot, however, further, inspection found that the temperature sending unit for the gauge cluster only has (3) stepper positions. This means the gauge can read either “cold”, “ok”, or “hot”, this often leads to not knowing about the problem until it’s too late.
In conclusion, the vehicle received a new radiator, and a new belt (under warranty) and will continue to live a long life. Had the owner continued to operate it under such conditions, the next symptom would likely have been an overheating engine. Please bring your vehicle in for a FREE diagnostic and help prevent such from occurring to you!