CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Battery & "Chirping" noise

  1. My 2007 Hyundai Tucson is 10 years old with about 44,000 miles on it. Since buying that vehicle I have not changed the battery. How much life does a battery have? And should I consider changing it?

  2. I was driving my vehicle (same one as mentioned above) to work this morning and I was hearing a noise like birds chirping and it sounded like it was coming from the back. It wasn’t a continuous noise but it came and went in intervals – both while the vehicle was in motion (at varying speeds) and while it was stopped. Any ideas what this might be?

Thanks.

  1. Your battery is truly living on borrowed time, especially in view of how few miles this car is driven annually. Instead of potentially destroying your alternator by forcing it to attempt to recharge a dying battery, you will save a lot of money in the long run if you replace the battery now. The price of car batteries has increased to a great extent over the past few years, so you should expect to pay $100–or more–for a top-of-the-line battery.
  2. If the chirping was heard only while the car was moving, I would suspect that the audible wear indicators embedded in your brake pads were warning you of the need to replace the brake pads very soon. However, if the same noise can be heard when the car is stopped, then a potential brake problem could not be the source of the noise. Chirping when the car is stopped (but the engine is running) would almost surely be coming from a serpentine belt that is worn/glazed or loose.

You need to have a mechanic examine the vehicle to determine the exact source of the noise, and you should expect that you will probably have to replace that belt–and possibly the belt’s tensioner.

1 Like

I would try tilting steering wheel left-right and if sound gets worse/changes => very likely it is belt related.

In the belt area, it may also be a solidified grease in the idler pulley, car is 10 years old after all.

If the noise is coming from the back with the engine is running but the car stopped, I would suspect the fuel pump or a heat shield. If it only happens when moving look at brakes or wheel bearings.

1 Like

When my battery reaches around the five-year point, I preventatively replace it. It’s likely not to last much longer and I’d rather not be stranded somewhere when it dies.

1 Like

+1
For reasons that I will never be able to fathom, many people seem to think that their vehicle will always break-down in a safe and convenient location–such as their own driveway–when it is much more likely that the battery will die in a desolate location on the coldest night of the year, and that their 2 decade old timing belt will snap while in the midst of 18-wheelers, while driving on the interstate.

Yes, batteries are fairly pricey nowadays, but if one’s financial security is so tenuous that someone is willing to take a chance with a 10 year old battery–rather than replacing it proactively in order to AVOID problems and higher repair costs–then I have to question that person’s judgment.

If spending $100 for a new battery now, versus spending it…maybe… 3 months from now is an issue, then perhaps car ownership is not for you.

If the battery is having symptoms (like it won’t crank the engine on cold mornings) then at 10 years old it should definitely be replaced. If it still cranks the engine reliably, if you want you could have it load tested I suppose, that would show its actual internal condition. I had a battery last 12+ years on my truck in San Jose’s mild climate, but I wouldn’t have trusted it to last much beyond 6 years except for short jaunts about town, which fortunately is how I use my truck.

The chirping sound coming from the rear is most likely either the exhaust system rattling or, less likely, the fuel pump. If you have the 4WD version, could be a u-joint needing lube chirping in the driveshaft. Wouldn’t happen though when the vehicle is completely stopped.