Astoria Mechanic | Collision Repair | Tolimas Auto Center

Tow truck towing a broken down car on the street

Why you shouldn’t ignore engine chirping sounds at idle

We have all heard that sound. At some point you’ll see a car on the street that will draw your attention, because you can hear a chirping sound coming from the engine as it is sitting at a light. The light turns green and as the car drives away it gets louder and faster. Some people ignore that sound and keep driving until something breaks. When that happens their engine will suddenly shut off. Now they will be stranded and their car will need to be towed to a mechanic shop for repairs. What might have been a simple repair will now be more complicated and costly.

What causes that engine chirping sound?

That sound is actually caused worn pulley bearings in the accessory drive A.K.A. serpentine belt system. Every engine, no matter whether it is made by Toyota, Nissan, Chevrolet, BMW, Audi, or Kia uses an accessory drive belt system. This system uses your car’s engine to power the air conditioner, generate electricity, pump coolant, and even helps you steer your car. This system is made up of a series of pulleys that are connected to the engine via belts.

Engine Accessory Belt System
Accessory Belt Drive System

They are spun together along with your engine using friction from the belt. After spinning for thousands of miles the bearings on these pulleys wear out and start making that bird chirping sound. When the problem is diagnosed and repaired in a timely manner it could take as little as an hour or two of labor and a $30 pulley to fix the problem.

The problem is that some people ignore the this noise and drive their cars for hundreds of miles until something breaks. If the problem isn’t repaired in a timely manner, the bearing on the pulley will seize and that will destroy the accessory belt. Then the belt will shred or snap and that can then damage surrounding components. With these components being critical for the engine to run, it will shut off and not restart. You will then need to have your vehicle towed to a shop for the damage to be assessed. Now more parts will need to be replaced and the repair will be more much more expensive.

Broken Accessory Belt and Pullies
Broken Accessory Belt and Pullies

What you can do to avoid catastrophic failure

That is why when you hear a chirping when you start your car, it is best to bring it to a trusted mechanic shop. Diagnosing the issue early will be much more economical than waiting for something to break. If you experience this issue, Tolima’s Auto Center would be happy to help diagnose and resolve the issue. Please feel free to Contact Us.

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