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Angry crickets in my 04 Durango?

I have a weird sound that seems to only appear when it’s between 30 and 50 degrees outside. It varies in quality from a slight “chirp” “chirp” “chirp” sound that increases in frequency from about 2K onward, to an angry sounding, loud - even maybe metallic tapping sound. I figured it was something pretty substantial, so naturally I put it off.

Here’s where the weird part comes in though. I did not notice it when I bought the car last summer, and I drove it all over the place - on the highways, in the mountains, on roads, off roads, everywhere, and didn’t hear the sound when it was hot outside. I only heard it a few time on chilly mornings, though it’d usually go away after a few minutes.

It sort of kept getting worse and worse over fall. I then discovered that it didn’t ever happen while the car was in park at all. The sound only happened drive and while accelerating. One day it was so bad I decided that I just couldn’t keep on putting it off, and decided to take it into the mechanic. On my way over though, naturally it didn’t make the sound anymore and just ended up cancelling since I didn’t see any point in paying for a “could not replicate”, I’d figure I’d just reschedule in a day or two when the sound came back.

In the meantime, the weather started to get very cold (well under 20 degrees) and stayed that way for a few weeks. Now, the sound vanished entirely! After the cold snap, when the temperature climbed back up around 30 or so, the sound returned.

The truck seems to run smoother in very cold weather (weird, I know).

I am wondering what heck this might be? I’ve looked everywhere, but my search results are so bogged down with noises while cold I can’t seem to find anything about noises only when slightly chilly.

The sound only happened [in] drive and while accelerating.

So, foot off the gas and the sound disappears? 4X4? Sounds like something’s not happy in the trans/transfer case/diffs.

Has your search included lifting the hood and listening while the engine is cold and idling?
I was gonna guess the tensioner, 'cause they tend to acquire angry crickets as they age, but listening is the first step in diagnosis.

Tensioner and belt would be my first guess. As said, I would lift the hood and see if you can hear it fainter while idling.

Agree with above. I had on startup in cold weather a noise like valve clatter, it would go away, ended up being a tensioner.

There does seem to be some kind of auxillary-related sounds, like a worn bearing sound coming from the AC/Alternator area, and at first tensioner was what I thought too due to the chirpy sound. And I know that belt-related sounds are often temperature dependent.

Does this make sense though as it only happens when in drive? I’ve listened for it with the hood open and in park while my wife was pressing on the gas pedal, but it’s just never there.

Sometimes a sound you hear when driving will seem to go away at idle, but actually it is still there at idle, only not as loud. Suggest to try the engine-stethoscope method to narrow down where it is coming from.

I’ll add that my 20+ year old Corolla makes a cricket sound like this and has been doing so for 15 years or more. Its’ coming from the alternator, I know that from the stethoscope method, but no other symptoms so I just live with it. In my case I can only hear it at idle, not when driving.

I’ve owned a couple of Dodge Dakota’s that had this chirping sound. It turned out to be the tensioner pulley on both vehicles. I replaced the idler pulleys as well because I didn’t want to heard that chirp again for a long time.

if the belt, tensioner and idler have never been replaced I would start there. It a cheap fix.