Blogs Car Info Our Show Deals Mechanics Files Vehicle Donation

1998 Corvette Squeals Like a Sackful of Bobcats

I am the original owner of a 1998 Corvette with 56,000 miles. Love the car! Except. Recently the car has developed this incredibly loud squealing noise. I have taken the car to a Chevrolet dealer and an independent mechanic. Neither have been able to pinpoint the source of the noise. I really want to get the car repaired and be able to enjoy these beautiful summer days riding with the top down and the tunes blasting. Any suggestions? Has anyone else had this problem? Thanks for your help!

I’ve never heard the squeal of a bobcat but a sackful must really be bad.
Is the noise always there? It is hard to believe that a dealer can’t find noise that’s always there.
Can you pinpoint it? Get a cheap harbor freight automotive stethoscope and probe around to see if you can find where it is coming from.

More information would be helpful. Only first thing in the morning, when starting up, when first driving in the morning, foot on the brake, foot off the brake. Harsh stopping or what ever you notice.

Example scenario for my wife and I. The rear hatch on a Magnum squeaked all the time. I would clean the car before taking it to the dealer thinking I was protecting the paint from all the hands on stuff they might have to do. It would always come back as could not duplicate customer complaint. The water from me washing it would temporarily cause the squeak to disappear. My wife noticed the pattern before I did. I washed the car one more time, put it in the garage for a week to dry out and then took it in. The problem was reproduced and repaired.

It would help if you could describe the conditions under which the squealng occurs. Does it depend on engine speed? Or wheel speed? Will it happen if the engine is running but the car is not moving? Or only when the car is moving? If so, at what speed?

It’s impossible to even guess unless you can describe under what conditions the squeal appears and whether it’s constant regardless of engine or vehicle speed or related to engine or vehicle speed. Where it seems to be coming from might also help, although noise can appear to be coming from a place other than its actual origin.

I agree with the others on this one. The first thing to do if it’s an engine noise is to remove the serpentine drive belt. Turn each component such as water pump or alternator by hand and check for excessive play. Then start the engine and see if the squeal goes away. If it does then you have gone a long way finding the source of the noise. If the noise is coming from somewhere other than the engine then disregard removing the serpentine belt. A good mechanic should be able to isolate the noise.

Thanks for the input!

The squealing noise is continuous and the volume or pitch of the sound does not vary. It is exceptionally loud as in other drivers turn and look to see where the noise could possibly be coming from. The noise does not vary with speed, rpm’s, gear, driving conditions, the length of time the engine has been running or when braking. The “bobcats” are definitely in the engine.

Any other ideas? Am I the only person in the world that still has a '98 Vette?

Then try missileman’s technique of removing the serpentine belt.

Is this coming from your radio then. Just kidding. But something that makes a noise and it never changes pitch or volume when the RPMs or speed of the vehicle changes has me baffled. Alternator bearing going out maybe? I have a truck that squeaks from the shifter linkage at the trans. You can hear that almost all the time outside the car and it doesn’t change with RPM. Could it be a body mount collapsed or something like that?

The part about not varying pitch is odd but if the belt is the original it needs to be replaced anyway due to age. With the belt off, run the engine and see if the noise goes away.

If it does not go away then maybe there’s a vacuum leak somewhere and you’re hearing air whistling.

I know this sounds dumb, but it’s worth a try. Get a plastic funnel with the long flexable snout (or put a piece of hose on a regular funnel). Put the small opening against your ear and try aiming the large funnel opening around under the hood. You should be able to locate the source of the noise by variatiuns in the sound level.

Sure sounds like something with a belt slipping slightly, usually the result of a driven pulley offering resistance like from a bad bearing or from a belt that’s too loose like if the tensioner has become weak and not maintaining proper tension. But I would think those would vary with RPM, but maybe not always?

Does it do this more in damp weather? I’ve heard there’s some relationship between serpentine belts and dampness, so that may help isolate the problem.

Be sure to report back when you solve this…it’s a curious one!