This morning we went for a shopping trip with the trusted old Honda CRV. After the first stop we got back in the car and started the engine. It started with a loud squealing noise from the engine bay. It was loud and did not stop. Stopping the engine and starting it again did not make it go away(usually with computers a restart does the trick but with cars it’s a different story).
When opening the bonnet there was a scent of burned rubber. I checked the tension on the belts, expecting a belt which was a bit loose. I found there were three different Multi-groove belts, each with a different purpose. All of them were quite tight. With the engine running, it was difficult to locate which of the belts generated the noise. The nearest garage was just around the corner. Well, garage… Looked more like a junkyard. We decided to drive there with the belt squealing like a pig.
When we arrived, one of the mechanics opened the bonnet and asked me to start the engine. Listening to the sound he could determine what the problem was. He said it was the A/C pump. Then his boss came to check this out. He had a different opinion; He was convinced it had to be caused by the alternator, just by listening to the sound.
Ehrm; Hold on guys, before we start to remove anything, I would like to have a bit more clues on which belt is causing this than just ‘the direction of the squealing sound’!
I thought that the belt that is squealing must have become a lot hotter than the other two. So I touched the belts and pulleys. The belt on the A/C compressor was very hot and the belt on the alternator was cool. So that’s a strong indication that the alternator was fine. It had to be either the bearings of the Idler pulley that got stuck.
I asked the mechanic if he could cut the belt of the A/C compressor. He smiled at me and said ‘no sir, we cannot do that’. Why not, the belt is only for the A/C, which is not that essential(it’s getting winter anyway so temperatures are around 27 degrees). Then his boss came back and the mechanic told him that I wanted him to cut the A/C belt. The boss said ‘why don’t you believe me? I’m telling you, it is the alternator! Cutting the A/C belt is at your own risk!’.
So the mechanic cut the A/C belt and I started the car again. No noise, no squealing. Problem resolved the quick and dirty(the African?!?) way! After this the mechanic could confirm that the Idler pulley was indeed stuck.
We drove home with the windows down. Birgit was happy that I joined on her shopping trip 🙂 Without me they might even have removed the alternator before finding out what the real problem was…