Car making very loud rattling noise after a 6 hour road trip

I just drove my car on a 6 hour road trip and got out to discover a very loud rattling noise under the front hood. I had a friend’s dad take a look, and he seems to think I need a bearing replaced on something that looks like a small conveyor belt next to the engine. I need to do the same trip back tomorrow, and my friend’s dad seems to think I should be okay driving back and can fix it when I get home. Will I be okay? I’m making the trip by myself so if I get stuck I’ll be in the middle of nowhere with no one else. Sorry I couldn’t remember exactly the part names, and I can’t ask him anymore; any questions I’ll try my best to answer. Any help is appreciated!

That “conveyor belt” is most likely the serpentine belt that drives the alternator, the A/C compressor, and possibly other components. The bad bearing could be in an idler pulley, or in… ??

Unfortunately, nobody from afar can accurately diagnose the problem, and–for sure–nobody can tell you if you will be “okay” in the middle of nowhere. If you have AAA or another road service that can provide towing in the event of a breakdown, you can at least get the car to a mechanic–albeit an unknown one…

But, does that “middle of nowhere” have cell phone service? If not, you could be truly stranded.

You may have more risk tolerance than I do, but if I was in your situation, I would take the car to a known mechanic near home before venturing out for 6 hours with a potential problem.

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Agreed with VDCdriver. The next sound after rattling is often a bang due to something coming apart.
Not enough info to know but I might theorize the problem could be a belt tensioner.

Since a rattle is involved I might suggest that you check the engine oil level immediately; just in case friend’s dad is wrong.

I’m assuming this is roughly a 300 miles one way trip and the last thing you need or want is to be stuck halfway.


Hopefully the water pump is driven by timing belt? So, a broke SERP belt might just be dead alternator. If you make it home, how long will you wait Sunday Monday Tuesday to get into a mechanic?

Put me in the column of hate to say one way or another. I’d suspect alternator, idler pulley, power steering pump, or even the AC pulley. The OP is not at home though but is going home. It’s always my inclination to try to make it back to civilization to get it fixed, especially if it is something more serious like the AC. But seriously, if you have a phone, there is hardly any place anymore that doesn’t have some service within 50 miles. Seriously pack a lunch for a wait, and watch the temperature indicator and other lights on the dash for warnings.

On my 200 mile trip back home from school one night, my generator went out. I stopped half way, had a hamburger, and got the battery charged. Pulled in about 5 am with the lights pretty dim again. Same route with a bum fuel pump, etc. Of course once with my VW I made it within 40 miles before it collapsed. Stiff upper lip and all and pay attention. If it were 20 below out or snowing, I would delay a day and get it fixed.

PS Let us know what happened.

Thanks everyone for being so supportive and helpful! I decided it wouldn’t hurt to postpone returning home a day, so I will be taking it to someone here tomorrow to see if they can fix my problem so i can make it home. Thanks again!


That still does not answer my question about whether or not the motor oil level is where it should be.

If the OP is of the type who does not check the oil level regularly and if this was not done before a road trip to where they are now this would be even more of a concern.

I appreciate the concern, but I got my car serviced maybe 2 weeks ago, so everything was fine before the trip (I triple checked everything like the oil when it started making noises just to make sure). I managed to get someone to look at it, they tightened the nuts that were holding that small conveyor belt in place, and the car drives smooth now. It seems like it was a case of ‘sounds worse than it is’. Home safe with no car problems now!


Glad things worked out for you thank you for the update.