Belt Squeal

2001 Accent 1.6, A/T. Just replaced alternator myself. Checked and adjusted all three belts; all seem tight. Now I have a belt squeal. P/S fluid is full. When car starts there is no squeal. 15 seconds later chirp starts. A few seconds later squeal is constant and remains throughout entire ride - except when I make a turn. During any turn squeal goes away, then comes right back.
Can anyone help me fix this squeal?

  • bruskewicz

I take it you put on new belts. It could be a belt not properly tensioned or the new alternator is bad. Also, the tensioner could be bad. A mechanics stethoscope or a piece of hose could isolate it for you.

I did not replace belts. But, they still look good.
Could new alternator be bad?
I will try re-adjusting one belt at a time.
Thank you.

Cheap rebuilt units can always be bad. Do the belts have a polished shiny look to them? If so they are bad. You can pour water on the belts and if they quiet down, then it’s a belt.

Like “Knfenimore” said, but I use a spray bottle and adjust it so it sends out a stream of water, not a mist. You want to try your best to spray only one belt at a time. When you get to the bad belt, the water should lube the belt just enough to get rid of the squeal for a moment. That will pinpoint which belt is causing the problem.

To knfenimore and Yosemite,
Thank you for your comments. Sometimes it is helpful just knowing other folks are interested!
I was able to identify the squeal as coming from the alternator belt. I called the alternator tech support 800 number, borrowed a volt meter from AutoZone, and the tech walked me through the alternator tests. He concluded the “new” alternator was bad. AutoZone ordered a replacement, tested it on their machine, found it to be good, and I installed this second “new” alternator.
(So, knfenimore, your comment “cheap rebuilt units can always be bad” was true. For the record, I have been using rebuilt parts for years. This is the first time one was bad.)
Ok, that was a few days ago. For two days, the alternator was charging the battery as it is supposed to. Except I was also smelling a burnt smell, like burnt rubber. And, the second day, the belt squeal came back.
This morning, after a local errand, the smell was back. The squeal was intermittent. Then, on the way home, the battery light came on on the dashboard. I got the car home before it died, lifted the hood, and found the alternator belt had broken.
So, I will replace the belt. Hopefully, that will do the trick.
(But, I wonder if how I installed the alternator could have caused the belt to heat up and break. The belt was not new, at least a few years old. And, by eye, the alternator seemed straight, not crooked. I hadn’t tried the water-on-the-belt test, as you both suggested.)

Thanks again for your interest in my problem.

  • bruskewicz

Did you try to spin the alternator pulley by hand?
It should turn smoothly, with mild resistance.

Alternator pulley is out of line, my guess. You should probably also check the tensioner is fully operational.

“Checked and adjusted all three belts”

OP’s car doesn’t have a serpentine belt or an automatic tensioner

It also sounds like the belt tension may have been set too high . . .