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Chrysler van town & country '97, belt noise

Let me start off by saying that my car has roughly 200,000 miles on it with no serious needs of repair so far.

The problem started out with a loud noise coming from the engine every morning when I started the car. This noise came from the engine belt and sounded as if something needed to be urgently lubricated. However as soon as the engine warmed up (after driving some 10 miles or so) the noise stopped almost entirely.

My trusted mechanic said the belt needed to be tightened; he replaced and tightened the belt. The noise stopped almost entirely but the tightened belt damaged the water pump. Both the pump and belt had to be replaced. This time, we made sure not to tighten the belt as much. However the noise came back again after the replacement. Again, the noise almost entirely goes away after the engine warms up.

By the way, I’ve noticed the same noise coming from other older Dodge and Chrysler vans as well.

Can anybody explain to me what is going on with the car? Any recommendations for what to do? Thank you in advance!

Please Specify Which Engine Is In The Vehicle. Is It A 3.0L ? Did Your Mechanic Indicate That The Belt Was Frayed / Worn Along One Edge ?

Chrysler has a Technical Service Bulletin for the 3.0L that discusses underhood noise, fraying serpentine belts, belts that come off, misaligned pulleys, etcetera.

I’d have the mechanic check the pulley(s) alignment. Sometimes it’s possible to use a straight-edge to do this, but Chrysler says the belt should be approximately 2mm from the inboard edge of the idler pulley.

If out of alignment, Chrysler recommends replacing the engine mounting bracket (04612412) and serpentine belt (04861322). It appears that the idler pulley attaches to this engine mount bracket. If the belt moves to the outboard edge of the pulley then further diagnosis will be required.

Also, at 200,000 miles, it’s possible to have a worn out pulley bearing. You can purchase a mechanic’s stethoscope ($10-$20) and carefully probe around and listen to the pulleys (idler, tensioner ) by contacting the stationary nut in the hub of the pulleys or the body of units such as alternators with the stethoscope’s probe. Maybe your mechanic has one.


Thank you very much for your excellent response. It looks like it’ll be best to take the car and your suggestions with me to the Chrysler dealer and have them take a look at it for me.

To answer your questions, I checked in the manual and around the engine and I was not able to determine for sure whether it is a 3.0L. However a lable (talking about the belt) located in the engine room refers to 3.3 and 3.8L. Also, my mechanic has not indicated whether the belt was frayed along one edge.

Would you be able to estimate the price range for having this fixed?

Thank you.

The 3.3 and 3.8 have only one belt. It is at the passenger side of the engine and is about 1" wide. There is no adjustability of the belt’s tension - a spring-loaded belt tensioner with a smooth pulley (approx. 3" diameter) tensions it automatically, until it doesn’t.

On my 1999 with the 3.3. I had to replace the tensioner/pulley ($57) because of noise. Soon after that I had a new power steering pump put on and the mechanic also put on a new belt (also $57) because the old one was glazed and prone to slipping. Labor for the belt and pulley would, I think, be less than one hour.

Thank you to both of you!