Auto Repair Help
JIM’S CORNER – AUTO REPAIR HELP

DIAGNOSE – LOUD SQUEAL HEARD WHEN STEERING WHEEL IS TURNED
by Jim Miller

SYMPTOM SUMMARY
A loud squeal is emitted from under the hood when the steering wheel is turned.

USUAL CAUSE
This symptom is usually caused by a loose or worn power steering belt.

DIAGNOSIScheckengine
With the help of an assistant, rotate the wheel all the way to the right or left while inspecting the drive belts. If the drive belts slip or squeal, service will be necessary. With the vehicle off, inspect the belts for wear or cracking. Some vehicles utilize a single serpentine belt that drives all of the accessories. These types of belts usually use an automatic tensioner that maintains the proper tension at all times. Inspect the belts for proper alignment to the pullies. A worn tensioner bearing can throw the belt out of alignment, causing abnormal belt wear or breakage.
Vehicles that use conventional “V” belts should be inspected for cracks or glazing. Over time, the inside surface of the V-belt can become glazed which can cause it to slip. A glazed belt will have a shine to it and feel hard and brittle. The tension of the V-belt should have about a 1/2″ of deflection between its longest span. Over tightening a V-belt can lead to bearing failure in the driven accessory. Drive belts that are worn should be replaced and properly tensioned.

PRECAUTIONS, TIPS, and NOTES
Some vehicles use automatic tensioners that contain a large spring used to tension the drive belt(s). You should use caution when removing the belt from the tensioner. The tensioner can snap if not carefully held in place causing injury to your hands or arms. Always use caution when working under the hood. Some parts become very hot and can burn if touched. Rotating engine parts should be avoided by your body and loose clothing. Entanglement can cause severe injury.

(Jim is a lifelong fan of Dodger Baseball and used to race sprint cars in the 1980s.)

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