Barely audible high-pitched whine noise...2003 Hyundai Elantra

I’m noticing that as I’m driving I can hear…faintly…a high-pitched whining noise. I’m not sure where, exactly, it’s coming from except to say it’s in the front. It doesn’t seem to get louder or softer when I accelerate/decelerate. And when I turn I don’t notice any difference. What could this be, and is it serious?

It might be alternator bearings going bad.

If the car still has the original serpentine belt, it’s 5 years old and it might not be a bad idea to replace it.

Ed B.

I had the belts replaced last summer…so I don’t think that’s it. Thanks for the feedback.

It could help to narrow the guesses down if we knew if the problem occurs only when the vehicle is moving or if it occurs when both moving and remaining stationary.

If it only does this when the car is moving then one could suspect a wheel bearing, tire tread wear issue, or a case of low transmission oil or fluid; depending on if it’s an automatic or manual transaxle.

If it does it both when moving and stationary then one should suspect a bearing in an accessory (alternator, power steering pump, A/C compressor clutch bearing, etc.) or a belt tensioner bearing. The latter could really be a problem no matter if it’s a tensioner bearing on an accessory belt or even worse; if it’s one that is involved with the timing belt.
How many miles on the car and has the timing belt ever been replaced?

It only happens when I’m moving. It is an automatic car, so I’m assuming that means an automatic transaxle (I’m a bit car stupid, as I’m sure you cna tell). I have 80,000+ miles on the car, and last summer I had the belts replaced (I don’t know if that includes the timing belt…I had two replaced…would they normally replace the timing belt??).

High-pitched whine noise - Has my ex-wife been riding with you?

Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Replacing the timing belt is a whole different animal from replacing the alternator/power steering/AC compressor “fan” belts. I doubt is was done, unless you paid many hundreds of dollars. What does your owners manual give for mileage or years to replace the timing belt? Get your service records and see what they claimed to have done, and whether the timing belt is coming due.

P.S. The accessory “fan” belts are on the outside of the engine, easily visible with the hood up. The timing belt is inside the engine, hidden behind a cover.

I just bought a used 2007 Sonata with 28,000 miles on it. I have a similar squeal and found that applying some light pressure to the hand brake made it stop. Apparently I have a rear brake pad dragging slightly. You may also.

All the Best,

Yeah, I looked in there today after reading your earlier post. It does recommend at least checking it at about 60,000+. I did notice, however, it is listed in the warranty manual as something that is covered under the PowerTrain warranty. That’s good, because my car has 82,000+ miles on it, so it’s into the PowerTrain part of the warranty…

After driving it today, the noise seems to be getting better and not worse. I had my dad take it for a spin and he never heard anythign. I only heard it for a minute or two…

Who knows…I very well might be hearing things. I tend to freak out about my car whenever I hear, or think I hear, a noise I don’t recognize.

I’ll look into getting the timing belt looked at…thanks for the advice.

Well, I just had my rear brakes replaced a few months back. They’ve been making a sort of grinding, loud rubbing noise, if that makes sense. I have had them back a few times to be looked at and no one can find a problem. I don’t think it’s the rear brakes since the noise, I’m almost certain, is coming from the front. Where is the hand brake, though? Is this the same as the parking brake? My car is an automatic…so I’m not sure if I have one. As I said above…I’m a bit car stupid. Thanks for the advice; I’ll certainly look into this as well.

Haha…I’m fairly certain that’s not the problem…lol.