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Squealing Dodge ... hates winter
03-04-2014, 09:01 PM
Post: #1
Exclamation Squealing Dodge ... hates winter
Dodge Stratus 2005 Sedan
Engine 2.4 DOHC (EDZ)
Ref: No turbo, Free spinning engine design
I live in St Louis and work at Indianapolis as a manufacturing engineering for aircraft engine manufacturer. I have a history of working with cars, however at 59 I try not to. Oh, joys where ’66 SS Malibu and a 71’ Z28 (and yes a wish I still had them). Use to cam them, add big carbs, tires etc… they were good days.

On March 31, 2013, - (1 am) west of Effingham Ill in route to Indianapolis (Hwy 70 – speed 70mph) broken timing belt. Note: temp in 50’s F. Towed to Effingham Ill by AAA.

3-31-2013: Water pump, idler, tension arm, belt and plastic cover (broken by belt).
Cost with labor $780.00. Given one year warranty. Shop was not my local, but a Effingham location (about 150K miles).

2-28-2014: same shop replaced accessory drive belt and relocated bottom pulley (170K miles).

Squealing (Howling) sound (like a rub) occurring during single digit temperatures of winter 2014. Can hear moderately loud squeal, with hood, doors, windows all closed sitting in car with vent fan running. The sound is not the fan. Concern is belt rub and failure; 2014 winter has been too long, too cold.

Taken to my local shop; they stated the sound seemed to be coming from within the timing belt cover and cost would be $600.00+ to go into (temp was about 10 degrees). I returned the car to Effingham repair shop and the temperature was 35 F+ on a sunny day… felt like spring. And of course no sound; they examined it and found that the accessories pulley (bottom) was not all the way on (about 1 groove out). The accessory drive belt had started to fray. They relocated the pulley, replaced the belt and apologized; charge $0.00.
Now 8 degree morning, and it’s back to haunt me. Squealing described above. I started at 1 am at 8 degrees in St Louis and 250 miles later in Indy the squeal was still there. Note squeals only at idle (750 RPM), increase to 1000 RPM and it goes away, so during highway travel it is not squealing. That same day, by noon we had 17 degrees and no squeal.

What is the most likely cause? Is it idler, tension arm, miss located or over tightened plastic cover? Or even a thermo reduced plastic cover rubbing at single digits only… similar to a car horn contacts sounding on a very cold day? Is this something damaged and failure is only a matter of time? Possibly it is just an annoying squeal caused by vibration at 750 RPM? It doesn’t seem to be an accessory bearing, as a stethoscope seems to lead me to the cover, however best judgment is difficult at night at single digit temperatures.
The biggest problem is how can I resolve this on a warm sunny day when I am not freezing my %#$@* off. Dangerous thoughts were (past tense) reduce the engine parts temperature by dry ice or a co2 fire extinguisher. Bad deal… requires very vented work area; gloves and eye protection and where exactly would I spray it. Do know any drive in meat lockers?
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03-04-2014, 10:28 PM (This post was last modified: 03-04-2014 10:33 PM by Rupe.)
Post: #2
RE: Squealing Dodge ... hates winter
Drive in meat locker.... HA! The key here would be to let the whole engine cool down in there for many hours. (the right idea but not really practical) Dry ice or CO2 probably can't do that without lots of effort / expense.

My best guess is something is still rubbing and it's gotta be "so close" (holding fingers just a fraction apart) that temp makes a difference. That said, anything that makes a noise is going to leave a mark, which leads me to the question of what they mean when they "relocated the pulley" and could that need doing again? Perhaps there's a bad bearing on the cam belt tensioner pulley? That would be inside the timing cover and hard to pin down. Of course that "mark" would be internal so not easily spotted. Same goes for a bad alternator bearing.

Speaking of which, I recently nailed down a weird noise on my 96 Didge Caravan. Sounded similar to what you describe and it went away as the engine speed went up. Also got better on a warm day. I took the belt off and felt the alt bearing was NG so got a new one. When I pulled it out of the car the entire body of the alt was split! Guess that caused it to bind up in certain situations and certain temps but it was quiet once warmed up.

Keep us posted as you find more details. This sounds interesting.

BTW, my first car was a 62 Nova SS and the one after that was a 67 GTO.... those were THE days!

Edited to add: Not sure exactly how to handle this with the original repair shop but if you feel they have a good rep you might want to keep them in the loop if another shop is your only choice due to distance. Perhaps they will do you some favors in the future or extend some sort of credit. Hard to say where the fault lies till the problem is found.
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03-05-2014, 10:36 AM
Post: #3
RE: Squealing Dodge ... hates winter
I agree. I appreciate the comments. I know my chances are slim that I will get that one person that says… “my 2.4 dodge did exactly the same thing”. If so I might find some comfort depending on their corrective actions. If it was truly just a vibration, it would not be worth my efforts to repair. But the agreed rub, even if it occurs on some infrequent winter days could cause me a problem given my travel between cities. Biggest concern is for to whittle away at the plastic form the inside out until it melts and break away occurs. March of 2013, when the timing belt broke I had a nice evening, if that can be said for a break down. The moon was full, the evening warm for March and I had a full phone charge (and available service) and a AAA card. You take it in stride and deal with it. After all I did ignore the replacement mile date and time took its toll. Single digital times and related problems pose a greater risk. I travel with a sleeping bag and a blanket or two, but a cold night of camping isn’t my wish. I can’t count the slide offs I have seen this winter.

I pondered why we even have those covers over the rubber clogged timing belts; we don’t cover the accessory drive belts. Any drag race fan has seen the blower drive belts, right? But then maybe a piece of road debris or a breakaway piece of the weakened cover could leverage the belt off? The SST concord crash was a small piece of debris on runway… small things can result in terrible events.

I will be taking one more run at the original repair shop. Not sure if it was a smart use of a smart phone, but I recorded the noise that 8 degree morning and again later after the day’s warmer temp’s had eliminated it. I can clearly hear the difference; so if the repair shop agrees I might get them to take another run at it. For a non local shop, they have been quite willing to work with me. Hopefully I won’t wear out my welcome. Removing the accessory belt, pulley and cover is time consuming and if the results aren’t visible.. it could be a little awkward. This Friday is my drop by; I haven’t called. It might be easier to shun me away over the phone, so I will take my chances in person. I think I can be more convincing in person. I will post again next week.

Your question and the answer: The pulleys are serrated and require them to be forced pushed on; mine wasn’t all the way back and the bolt didn’t force it back either. They used a drift and hammer; it was about one 1/8” from being back.
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03-05-2014, 11:30 AM
Post: #4
RE: Squealing Dodge ... hates winter
Gotcha on the relocation. I now have a better picture in my mind. OTOH, this makes me wonder that if the bolts didn't pull it into position then what else is not lined up correctly?

As for the timing belts versus the accessory belt cover situation... It doesn't matter if an accessory belt or a blower belt slip a little. A cogged blower belt is only to get better throttle response. (zero slip) There's no "wrong" position, they always work in any position. With a timing belt the tension is critical and so is the timing. I have seem those jump a cog or two from simple things like being stuffed into a snow drift (and damaging the cover) or gravel from the road then the engine doesn't run right or at all. I work on a fair amount of stationary engines and being intermittent use I have seen a mouse get cozy in there, freeze to death, then the frozen (solid) carcase goes for a ride on the next crank cycle and throws the belt completely off! Covering the belt is an attempt to keep out such debris. Some work better than others at that task.

Anyway, good luck and keep us posted.
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