1999 Honda Civic with an ORCHESTRA of Sounds!

I have three sounds coming from under the hood, and I have no idea what they are coming from. All three seem to have started in the last week.

1) Grinding Sound: Sounds like an ax on a wet grindstone. Seems to decrease in intensity, and stops at about 45 MPH (or perhaps engine sounds just cover them up)

2) Electric Motor Sound: Sounds like the electric part of a hybrid, but of course I don’t have a hybrid. It’s sort of “hummy” and seems to pair with the Grindy sound.

3) Chirpy Sound: Sounds like a cricket coming from under the dash. May be a blower motor? My wife thinks I have a pet bird in the car.

All the sounds seem hardest at slow speeds, and after running about 15 minutes, don’t seem to come back until stopped for a long period of time.

Any ideas?


PS. I live in Houston, and it’s quite warm and humid. We’ve recently had some rain and flooding, but I didn’t go through any water higher than 3-4 inches.


Wild guess: You A/C compressor is about to seize up and the chirping is your belt slipping. You should have it looked at though.

I agree that it sounds like something belt-driven is on its way out. The AC comprssor, the alternator, the power steering pump, something.

I agree that it’ll need to be looked at to find the culprit.

It doesn’t seem like a belt-slip chirp - it seems to be more under the dash, and more consistent rhythm…?

It really sounds like a cricket, not so much the squeals that I usually think a belt slip would sound like…

You may have a blower motor on its way out also.

I drive a 1998 Civic with 183,000 miles, and I am pretty sure about #2 and #3, and I have an idea about #1.

  1. The grinding sound might be your brakes. Get them checked out.

  2. This sound is probably the fuel pump, which is located under the back seat. it is normal and you shouldn’t worry about it. Just turn up the radio.

  3. This is the blower motor. The bearing is about to fail and you will need a new blower motor. Hopefully, the new one will last another 10 years. You can safely put this off until it fails, and for now, just turn up the radio.

All around, this is a pretty noisy car. Between wind noise and engine noise, just turn up the radio and drive…after you find the source of #1.

Grindy sound update… I peeked under hood and the grindy sound only happens when the fans aren’t blowing… What does that mean? And they’re there when idling, so I don’t think brakes?

See if turning on your headlights changes the grindy sound. If so maybe it’s your alternator.

The chirping under the dash could be the blower motor. I had one on my '88 Accord that started chirping only on low speed. I think it lasted about 10 years too.

I’ll second that mountainbike . . . had the same sounds on my '89 Accord, way up under the dash, too. Rocketman

You should take a piece of garden hose, press one end against your ear, and move the other end around the engine compartment to isolate the location of the sound. It might help if you plug your other ear.