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Belt continues to squeal

I drive a 1991 Honda Accord. A few months ago I began to notice that the engine compartment would squeal when I started it on occasion. I went under the hood and determined that both the alternator and steering pump belts could do to be tightened and did just that. That solved the problem.

A few weeks later they begin to squeal again. I apply some belt conditioner and it usually goes away for that particular trip, but the squeal will come back upon the next time I start the car.

I can’t tell which belt the squeal is coming from, as they are practically right on top of one another.

Over the past month or so, the squeal has gotten progressively worse. It will squeal at startup until I begin to reach approx 2k RPMs. If I go to idle during driving, it will (maybe 40% of the time) drop down to below 500 RPMs and squeal, and on even fewer occasions the car will sputter and stall out (MAYBE once per day).

The belts appear to have little give now, but I didn’t want to OVER tighten them. They also show no apparent signs of wear or glazing.

With the winter weather coming, I’m attempting to resolve this as quickly (and cheaply) as possible, so that I’m not banging around under the hood wearing a parka. Thanks in advance for any help!

You might want to loosen the belts and try to turn the alternator and steering pump pulleys by hand and check for any binding. It sounds like a belt may be working too hard to turn one of the pulleys. Perhaps one of them is seizing up.

Your battery may be getting ready to fail. A weakening battery can put a heavy load on the alternator for a longer period of time stressing the belt. Check battery voltage before you start the car to see if is down close to or below 12.0 volts. It should be up around 12.25 v or more.

That said, the belt should not squeal. The pulley may be glazed. Try putting a little Comet cleanser on a piece of paper and blow it onto the pulley while the car is running. It will help take down the glaze and quiet the belt.

How about just getting some new belts and eliminate those parts from the equation.
They are pretty cheep.
Try spinning each pully when you do change them. If you find a binding pully…thats the problem.

Then if the noise remains you can start diagnosing for other problems.


Replace the belts. No amount of tightening or belt conditioner will help a drive belt that has given up the ghost. If it’s glazed…it’s gone.

Belt rubber gets old…cracks , glazing or not.
They get less pliable and no longer grip as well.
WHICH, by the way, will bring to light a pulley or componenet that is not spinning as it should causing too much resistance for the usual belt grip.

As mentioned above, stop shootong inthe dark and just replace the belts.
test spin all the pulleys that you can.

Belt dressing attracts dirt and will ruin a belt faster. I agree with the other, change the belts.

I can’t bear to throw things out. I have a can of belt dressing that is 50+ years old.

I have not used it in 45+ years and I never will. Maybe I can throw ir out… someday.