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Crack-smoking cricket under the hood

I have a 2005 Hyundai Santa Fe. I have already been to a mechanic 3 times to correct this problem but it didn’t work.

The details are:

When I start my car, what appears to be something relating to the accessory belt is chirping like a cricket on crack! What I have learned by observation is after driving for over an hour, the sound will finally stop. The problem is I live in a rural community where nothing is more than 20 minutes away. My husband’s resolution is to turn on the radio loud to drown it out, but it remains a problem at the drive thru requiring me to turn off the vehicle to be heard. It is also a problem when I am driving to work 2 days a week because I work out of town, and it doesn’t stop until I arrive at my destination – 1 hour away.

The mechanic’s remedy

The first attempt the accessory belt was changed. No sound until next morning. The second attempt, the accessory belt AND a small belt that works with it was changed. No sound until next morning. I thought I would be able to just ignore it, but I couldn’t. I took it to the mechanic with a plea for help. I couldn’t take ONE MORE DAY of the freakin’ cricket! Actually, what started out as A cricket turned into the VanTrap Family (The Sound of Music) of crickets (in other words, it got louder and more consistent). The mechanic said it was a bearing in the pulley. They replaced the pulley to the tune of approximately $160 bucks for parts and labor. I drove the car home with no cricket and the next morning when I started the vehicle the VanTrap Family was back! Needless to say, I am not sure what I am more frustrated with, my mechanic or the sound.

Can anyone help to direct me?


If your mechanic is not a dealer, give them a shot. At least ask them to locate the problem for you. It’s possible it’s even a known problem, and they can walk out, start it and tell you immediately what it is. They are the most familiar with your vehicle. It seems to me that your mechanic is guessing at this point, and although you may trust him, and have worked with him for years, this one has him stumped. Stop tossing money at it, and get it properly diagnosed.

I’ve heard of this happening (although in a Ford, at the time) when the pulleys aren’t in proper alignment (one is a little more “in” or “out” than the rest). Not sure if he’s checked for that or not.

Good luck!

If the bearing in the idler pulley was bad, it is possible that the bearing in the tensioner is also bad.
After 6 years (and an unknown number of miles), it is possible that you also need to replace the tensioner.

~ apparently a flagging event, presumably having to do with a crack comment, occurred which made by quippy response that was here a non-sequitur.

I’d go with VDCdriver and assume that you’re still looking at a different pulley issue. Unfortunately for you there are plenty of pulleys to choose from on there. It can be hard to tell which ones are a problem but someone needs to spend some time figuring this out.

I’d also wonder about how sure everyone is that its belt related. All you really said was “appears to be something relating to the accessory belt” - but I don’t know on what basis. Perhaps the noise has nothing to do with the belts.

I dunno…3 belts, and the sounds came back after a few miles? Doesn’t really sound like pulley bearing failure to me.

Thank you for your response. The mileage is currently 75K.

I agree that it sounds less and less like the belt now. I think that was just automatically the first choice because it was time in its maintenance plan to replace them. The sound has a very rhythmic sound. It accelerates along with the engine, and remains squeaking even when the vehicle is at a complete stop.

Well, that description doesn’t rule out a pulley issue. We still don’t know exactly which of your pulleys was replaced or how anyone checked the others. But that’s still what someone needs to do - in addition to being open to the possibility that it is something else.

An easy way to tell whether you can ignore the belt system or not is to have the belt removed and start the engine briefly. (You can’t run it a long time without the belt though). If the sound is gone then you stay on the serpentine belt system. If the sound remains you start looking elsewhere.

My reasoning is that it’s “belt related” is because they replaced the belt - twice? - and it was quiet for a little while.

The tensioner is automatic, so it shouldn’t be belt adjustment, although that is still a possibility if it wasn’t changed - at 75K miles, it may need to be.

SO…my guessing at this point…is that something is damaging the belt, and causing the squeal. “sound has a very rhythmic sound. It accelerates along with the engine, and remains squeaking even when the vehicle is at a complete stop” so it’s not the moving portion of the drivetrain, it’s isolated to the engine and it’s accessories. The only real clue is that it stopped for a while, and then came right pack. Any seriously damaged bearing would have kept on making noise, new belt or not.

My mechanic is not the dealer for a couple of reasons. I made a bad decision in purchasing a vehicle that doesn’t have a dealer within an hour of my town. Remember what I said about the hour? By the time I arrive there, the noise is gone, and they can’t fix what they can’t hear. Another reason is that the dealer didn’t fix several of the problems that they could hear. There isn’t another dealer anywhere close by. I have learned my lesson and will buy a vehicle that can be serviced basically in any town from now on.

My accessory belt system has two belts (if I understood them correctly). Initially, they replaced only the main accessory belt. When I brought it back to them, they did more research and found that the two belts should have been replaced at the same time, so they replaced them both at once (not charging me extra for the first one).

I do not think the tensioner has been replaced. Should it be? I keep all of my maintenance records, so I will go back through them to be sure, but I’m almost positive that it has not been replaced.

I was wondering if it had something to do with the belt being too tight or too lose (is that the tensioners job? sounds like it would be)expanding and contracting since it eventually stops after use (warming up) and squeals when the belt has cooled off from non-use.

The shop changed one belt but not both?
They can’t determine where the squeal is coming from?

I think the first thing you need to change is the shop. First of all, I’m stumped why a shop would change one acessory belt and leave the other. second, there are a number of ways of determining with reasonable confidence where the cricket is living. Wthe the belts removed, each pulley can be checked by hand for ease of rotation, noise, smootheness, axial play, lateral play, an glazing. Ease of rotation is important because if a bearing is beginning to bind it’ll cause slippage of the belt. That’ll sqeal and generally leave a glazed surface on the pulley.

A mechanic’s stethescope can help locate the cricket too. As can a simple metal rod or tube (I’m a tubist). Even a piece of paper rolled into a cone and used like a 19th century hearing aid can help.

Tensioners, as with other things, can be checked.

A competant shop can determine if you have a component beginning to bind…which is my suspicion.

Thank you for your response. I agree and I’m changing shops. The problem is that there are few to choose from. The problem with a rural area. I would gladly go out of town if I could drive to good service instead of the same service.

I appreciate your advice. I will definitely pass those options along.

I think part of your message was left off. I didn’t flag an event, so I don’t know what happened to the other two comments. I personally thought the “as a cricket I’m offended” one was hilarious! I didn’t think the first one was serious, and if so, I apologize. My post was intended to be humorous and given the humor of this show, I’m sure most readers took it as such.

Oh, Margie - no worries on your part. AL5000 had posted something like that as a crack smoker he’s offended. My reply, yes was the cricket one. But I’m guessing somebody thought Al’s post wasn’t cool, joking though it may have been. I don’t care. I just left a note explaining a weird little reply box.

(Of course, not this will probably get flagged for explaining Al’s comment.)

Thank you. I was just being funny, and you were very funny!

Any chance of leaving it with the dealer or mechanic overnight?

A useful tool that I have is a mechanics stethoscope. Every mechanic should have one. It has a metal rod attached to the end and you can place that end on different parts of the engine to hear specifically “inside” the part being tested. Ask your new mechanic if they have one. They should be able to narrow down what they are looking for. I agree it could be the tensioner pully, but it could also be the water pump, the alternator or the A/C compressor.

More than likely the belt tensioner. Easy and cheap fix.