Squealing... water pump? 2004 ST XLT

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Adam Smith

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I used to be on this forum all the time, I guess I can't remember how to use it anymore. Searches yield nothing in Jobs or postings. Especially when starting off in the AM, I drive a few miles to my destination, but I have a squealing which in my younger days with my old Toyota p/u would have easily been diagnosed as a slipping fan belt. I have ~170K miles. More pronounced at idle, increases slightly with increase in rpms, not as noticeable at speed. Is this a fan belt slipping, or water pump warning me it's going bad? If water pump, can I do this myself? I can't find the Jobs section anymore. Thank you.
 

swshawaii

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Best way to pinpoint the squealing is remove the belt and spin ALL the pulleys by hand to make sure they are all turning smoothly. If all pulleys are OK, start the cold engine and listen for the noise and the area it's coming from. Do not run more than a couple minutes because the belt drives the water pump and it will overheat quickly. If noise is still there it may be internal.
 
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Adam Smith

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Thanks, that sounds like a good test. Do you know what I would loosen to remove the belt?
 

swshawaii

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For clearance it's easiest to remove the large air intake hose from the air box and throttle body. Only requires a 3/8" square drive ratchet to remove the belt. A cheater pipe over the ratchet handle for leverage helps a lot if you're alone. Belt tensioner has a 3/8" square hole to loosen tension. Make sure the ratchet is seated firmly in the square tensioner hole or it may slip.
 

DILLARD000

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Could be stretched old SerpBelt,
or bad bearing on BeltTensioner \ BeltIdlerPulley \ CoolantPump \ SteeringPump \ AirConCompressor,
or bad FanClutch.
If SerpBelt or CoolantPump\Hoses\Radiator or FanClutch are 17yr old factory originals,
they've more than done their duty & overdue for replacement.

I'd start with simplest\cheapest item: replace SerpBelt & see if that fixes squeal.
If not, then do the CoolantPump+FanClutch next.
if not, then do the BeltTensioner+IdlerPulley.

More info & links on replacing these items at
 

swshawaii

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Also clean the pulleys while the belt's off. Some use brake cleaner but I've found Dawn dish soap mixed with warm water works well too. Use a stiff toothbrush or similar on the grooved pulleys. Unbelievable amount of crud comes out of them. Scrub both sides of the belt if reusing.
 

swshawaii

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Highly recommend the Continental Elite (formerly Goodyear Gatorback) if you need to replace yours. Used OE and Gates previously, but had minor yet annoying chirping and noise that was intermittent. Even tried the slightly shorter 4060860 many are using but the noise came back. Installed a new old stock (NOS) Gatorback I bought from eBay two years ago and haven't heard a peep since. YMMV
 

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Adam Smith

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In the middle of the job... soaking the belt in warm water and dish soap, will now scrub it; looks to be in pretty good shape.
BUT, the bolt was loose holding the smooth idler pulley on. I spun each pulley, some were silent, some potentially squeaky, hard to say. I started the engine but of course only the crankshaft pulley spins, and it doesn't make any noise. Will check back in...
 

swshawaii

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Was the idler pulley bolt loose enough for the pulley to wobble? Factory torque spec is 35 ft/lbs. so it needs to be pretty snug. All pulleys should spin smoothly with no binding or grittiness. Replace the pulley, or at the very least the bearing if questionable.

If you started the engine and the noise wasn't there it's probably a good thing. Does the water pump spin smoothly? Is the weep hole dripping coolant? Crankshaft pulley (aka harmonic balancer) would be the most difficult fix, but if it doesn't make noise, wobble, or show rubber bits shedding it's fine.
 

Adam Smith

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I think a potential disaster was averted. The idler pulley was wobbly - hate to think what that would look like coming off at speed. The bearing seems good, it spins 'forever', silently. None of the other pulleys seemed bad. Test drive, seems good. I really appreciate the advice! Thank you. I'll check back in with any residual problems.
 

swshawaii

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LOVE seeing "fixes" like this, especially since you cleaned the belt and pulleys while doing it. Bravo.
 

Todd Z

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CHECK THE CRANK PULLEY !!!!! they separate, squeak and eventually fly off !!
 

Max8

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I had a 05 ST V6 that had a sequel right after changing belt. It would start at start up and sound like two alley cats under the hood and then settle down to no noise after a couple minutes. I searched , changed tensioner and it got worse. Finally found cause harmonic balancer rubber was torn loose half way around allowing balancer to rub against the crank position sensor until it finally trued up after start. Had ground half way though the crank position sensor by the time I found it exposing the pick up in the sensor. Engine ran fine with no issues even with damage to the sensor. Might check this
 
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