Dealing With Male Chauvinists


I took my 2003 Corolla to a dealer because it was making a funny noise. After it sat for a time, I’d start it up and hear a grinding type of noise when I turned the wheel. It didn’t happen every time so I did everything I could think of to insure they could hear the noise if the car didn?t co-operate . I made a tape recording. I made movie clips and put them on a cd and I even put one of them on you tube. I took my laptop in so I could play the movie for them if necessary. They weren?t interested. They claim they heard the noise and replaced a tensioner assembly. As soon as I pulled into my garage I heard the noise again. I took it back and told them it was making the exact same noise. When I picked it this afternoon they claim there was no abnormal noise…just the normal noise it makes when the wheel is locked. I think this is insulting. I have been driving for 40 years. I know when my steering wheel is locked, it sure isn?t locked if the car is moving. I put 35,000 miles on the car and I know what is not a normal noise. I told my service advisor that I heard the noise occasionally when the car was moving in reverse and once when it was moving forward. I told him it was a grinding noise. He told the mechanic I said it was a growl. Do men get treated like this? Do the service advisors insist on changing what men tell them? Do men get their intelligence insulted? How do I get them to take me seriously?

does this sound like a locke dwheel to you?



Is this car out of warranty? If so, the answer is very simple-- go somewhere else! Independant mechanics provide as good if not better service for cheaper. And, in my experiance, they treat people better.

If the car is under warranty, you need to complain as high as you can. Ask for a service manager, general manager, then write to Toyota USA if they can’t make something happen. Funny little noises can be really hard to diagnose, regardless of the gender of the complainant, and a busy service department really hates spending the time it takes to track them down, especially if the car’s under warranty and they may not get paid for the diagnostic time. I don’t in this case think they are blowing you off because you are a woman, but you do need to light a fire under them to get them to address this, especially if the warranty is running out!


A few things came to mind when reading your post:

First, just about anyone knowledgeable on this forum that can help you is male. As a rule, though there are exceptions, they will be most equipped to answer/diagnose/solve numerous automotive mysteries.

That said, service departments at dealerships are notoriously bad at diagnosing/troubleshooting problems. They can do oil changes, tune-ups, basic repairs & maintenance. I wouldn’t count on your average dealership, foreign or domestic, to really dig into any problem. When they spend time doing this, they are not making the dealership the money that it craves. I’ve never worked in a dealership, but my experience with service departments is that you would want their most experienced mechanics working on your car, but you don’t control which mechanic gets to work on your car. Any “mechanics” at a dealership other than the experienced ones, are pretty much trained monkeys…and you don’t want them touching your car. And the counter service reps really don’t want to hear about your car problems. They want to get you and your car in and OUT as quickly as possible, so they can cash your check or run your credit card…and get to the next paying customer.

I listened to the link you posted…and it comes across as a softer sound, rather than grinding. But that might be a characteristic of the recording.

I’d suggest you get a reference from a co-worker, friend or relative, of a dependable general mechanic. Make an appointment, and go speak to them, and calmly relay your concern. Pretend it’s a brand new problem…don’t bog him down with your prior bad experiences. You want him to focus on your car and it’s present problem. Don’t take him recordings of it, but keep a log for a few days, or if it’s intermittent, try to write down when it seems to happen - see if there’s a pattern. This will help him diagnose the problem. I’m sure you’re frustrated, but he doesn’t know you, and you’ll want to begin a positive rapport with him.

Good luck, and if you get feedback from a good mechanic, or if you get the problem fixed, post back so others can learn from it.


When the steering wheel turns the wheels fully left, that is called “left lock”. A full right turn is a “right lock”. // For the diagnosis of about 30 car sounds, click on Actual Car Information at the bottom, or top, of this page. When on that page, scroll down to Car Noise Emporium for those sample sounds.


i am curious:

how fast were you going when you recorded this?

it sounds like either an air pump or a check valve in the emissions venting to me.

any other ideas???

does this happen at any particular speed, or engine RPM?

does it happen upon decelleration?

or when under constant engine load?


I have an extended warranty. They got paid plenty.:slight_smile: The service advisor let it slip that 1. they redesigned the tensioner because they leaked hydraulic fluid. Mine didn’t. 2. They just went with the most obvious solution_meaning they didn’t hear the noise, just replaced the part that could have made it. If they had just let me play the cd they might not have had to guess and I wouldn’t have paid for something i didn’t probably didn’t need yet.


The recording is a bit softer than it really is in fact but it is much better than the tape recorder. I made the recording because I have already tried to figure out what makes it happen. I thought it would help them.

I do know two pretty good independent garages. They are as expensive as the dealer.


The steering wheel was not locked.

Unfortunately my computer won’t open those files. I’ll try later with another computer.


The car wasn’t moving when I made the recording. I only hear it when the car isn’t moving or is moving very slowly, like backing out of the garage or pulling in. At first I only heard it for a few seconds when I was backing out.

The noise MAY be a little quieter when the engine is still warm, at say 1200 rpms, than it would be if I started the car cold and waited until the rpms dropped to 1200. Does that seem consistent with check valve? And the gas mileage has dropped from 27 or 28 to 23 or 24 in town.


Do you ONLY hear it in your garage and on smooth concrete floors? Because -and I hate to say this- it sounds exactly like your tires are just squeaking on a concrete floor.

Also, to clarify, you said this in a post above: “The steering wheel was not locked.” in response to a question about left and right “lock”. Again, I’m just making sure that you understand what was being said… when you move the steering wheel all the way to the left and hold it, such that it won’t turn any farther (this is while the car is on), that is called “lock”. It doesn’t refer to the steering column anti-theft lock.

You’re not moving the wheel to the extreme left or right while this sound is happening, are you?


I don’t have any solutions, but I do have a few comments.

First, “Do men get their intelligence insulted?” sure. this is not about male chauvinist, it is about car dealers who would act the same poor way to a man or a woman. Where I really see a difference is the way the sales people act towards men and women.

I think you just found one more of many good reasons not to by those extended warranties, that are really very high profit insurance policies.

I believe that Greasy is correct in that “you do need to light a fire under them to get them to address this, especially if the warranty is running out!”


" it is about car dealers who would act the same poor way to a man or a woman."

actually i think no one is surprised by car dealers, salemen/women by reputation and persistence have that reputation; but i am particularly disgusted (strong word huh?) by the service writers who do exactly as this woman describes, and then sell (by telling unsuspectign customers) unscrupulously unneeded trivial work.


where do the replys go???

some post immediately, others never appear!

any way.

since you said the sound happens when the car is NOT moving it really narrows down the problem. (more info is better)

it is NOT the engine, axles, or bearings. (since the wheels weren’t turning)

i am curious have you gotten a new set of tires recently? (or at least since the noise started?)

as mr josh stated: it sounds just like tires rubbing on the cement.

i am not sure if you got the reference to “lock” this is NOT about having the steering wheel locked up. (or the key in the OFF position); it is about turning the steering wheel all the way to one side, or another and HOLDING it there. the power steering pump gets overloaded and a sounds (like a growling pump) is heard.

one other thing to check is the power steering fluid level. if it is low the pump can get air in it and sound grinding too.


I bought new tires 4 months ago. They have just about 2,000 miles on them. They are the same brand as the original just a step up for longer mileage. The noise started before I got the new tires. I will to the tire store today and talk to them. They have always treated me well and I am sure they will be willing to listen to the noise.

At first I would sometimes hear a noise when backing out of the garage. It sounded a bit like the noise you get with a manual transmission when you only think it’s in reverse. It didn’t happen very often and only lasted a few seconds, so there was no point in taking it to a shop then.

Last week I discovered it made the noise, a lot louder, when the car wasn’t moving when the engine is running. I have never heard the noise when all four wheels were out of the garage. The service advisor heard the tape recorded version and said it was the worst noise he’d heard. The mechanic never heard the tape.

The next test will be to leave it out of the street for a few hours and let it bake in the sun and see if I hear the noise.

I am positive I never turned the wheel as far as it will go.

The power steering fluid is not low. It’s about one fourth inch high. It is clean. I am going to take my son’s advise and have someone change it anyway.


i have another check for you. when you pull into the garage, before you get all the way into your parking spot, put sheets of saran wrap down where the tire normally sit.

then, when you have the car parked, turn the wheel. see if the sound goes away.

i seriously suspect the tires or tread are causing this noise.

especially since you got tires two or three months ago. are you CERTAIN the noise was there before the new tires??? by the way this has NOTHING to do with chauvanism, but is a complicated deciphering of many different symptoms, which, in addition to being difficult to diagnose (as ou have found), are doubly difficult to diagnose over the internet.


I put another movie clip on you tube. If your speakers are good_unlike what’s on my laptop_ this is exactly what I hear. I have never heard a car make this noise before. The noise is loud enough for someone standing on the sidewalk across the street to hear.

It’s okay. Tell me the truth. Is that a tire noise? LOL it won’t be the first time I had to wear the dunce cap and I’ve given myself quite a few dope slaps too.


As was said, it sounds like the tires are squeeking against a very smooth or painted garage floor. On the U-Tube video, note the steering wheel position during the first turn to the right as the squeek begins. During the second turn to the right, the steering wheel needed to be advanced more to the right to make the squeek. That is because the tire contact areas on the floor were already repositioned a little to the right. Note that the squeek does not happen at the first part of the steering wheel turn due to the flexibilty of the tire rubber. I have heard this sound before.


since you have PERFECTED the art of posting video to u tube. (i havent even got that far in cyberlife!!!)
do this with the camera on the ground, pointing AT the tire, first right, then left. the tire jumps, and shifts a little. i am betting that the sound will be in synch with the tire turning on the cement (pavement).

have you noticed when this happens what the particular surface is??? concrete?, asphalt?, . painted concrete?. etc etc?

also, i mentioned it earlier, have you got this to happen with the engine OFF?

you CAN turn the wheel (with the engine off, key ON), but it is a bear to move. that would eliminate the power steering pump and rack as an issue.


To me the noise sounds exactly like tires rubbing on concrete. To verify park the front tires on cardboard. I bet the noise goes away.


Better yet, skip the whole camera thing altogether, call a friend, and have them steer the wheels back and forth while you crouch down near the tire. You can speculate until the cows come home as to what the noise is coming from, or you could just track it down.