Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Diagnosing belt noise & possibilities for a long-distance drive ... help!

Hello Everyone. 2003 Honda Civic taken in for repairs last month at 99,000 miles, including getting a NEW serpentine belt. Upon leaving the mechanic, the belt would squeal continuously only when using the a/c. Simple enough, took it back, he tightened the belt, and no more squealing.
One month later…
Same squealing noise has started again in the past 3 days, but it is very specific:

  1. Only when a/c is on.
  2. Only when you touch the accelerator after the car has stopped.
  3. Only lasts for a second or two, and only happens occasionally.

Knowing the above, is it safe to drive with the a/c on - for a pre-arranged trip from Washington DC to upstate NY and back - and then take it to the mechanic when I return? Is it possible that it’s another simple fix like just re-tightening the belt? Thanks in advance!

I don’t know how the mechanic was able to tighten the belt because the belt has an auto- tensioner.

To check if the auto-tensioner is worn, look at the position of wear indicator on the auto-tensioner before starting the engine. Then start the engine and rev the engine to 2,000 RPM’s and shut the engine off. Now check if the wear indicator has moved.

If it has, the auto-tensioner is worn out and requires replacement.


The tension appears to be adjustable:

I’d go and just pay attention to the noise. If the squealing stops in a few seconds…no problem. Yes, return for a retightening when you get back.

Just to be on the safe side. Why noeither stop by the mechanic before you leave,

Or print out those pages from “” and buy a new belt before you leave.
THis way if something is wearing on the belt, and a good person like @Tester; stops by to help…he’s got a belt and the routing for it.

I would have put my name in there Tester, but big cities scare me (too many flush toilets) and I’m not heading that way anyway.


Great tips all! Thank you!

That justanswer page was a good one . . .

Now I’ll go a little off topic

Check out the guy’s “resume”

02hondafreak, Honda/Acura Technician
Category: Honda
Satisfied Customers: 440
Experience: 3 1/2 years in Honda/Acura dealership-have done it all. 15+ years automotive work history.

When you start saying “done it all” . . . that’s when you set yourself up for a difficult job that will involve lots of time and skinned knuckles

The idea that 3-1/2 years in a dealer means you’ve done it all is not very realistic

I know . . . the guy’s just selling himself, but still

I’m smart enough know that I’ve NOT done or seen it all. I’m always learning. If can take away something new from each day, I’m satisfied. Of course, not every day is like that

Long time viewer, this is my first post. If there is more information contained in the original post I’m sorry, but only hatchbacks from that generation ('01-'04) have a spring tensioner. Sedans, like my car, have a screw-to-adjust tensioner for the alternator and A/C drive belt.

Expanding on my first post, the symptoms are exactly like what my car was doing before I replaced and tightened the drive belt. By serpentine belt do you mean timing belt? A timing belt change requires the removal and retensioning of the A/C drive belt.

Speaking of timing belts, at 11 years, if not already done, that service is way overdue.

Welcome @Oliver70. There is some confusion about what to call flat poly-v belts that take a simple path. Even though they don’t have a “serpentine” path, they still have that name to distinguish them from the old (single) v-belt.

What confusion?

A serpentine belt is going to be a poly v belt

But a poly v belt is not necessarily going to be a v belt

Not confusing to me, anyways

“But a poly v belt is not necessarily going to be a v belt”

Then when is a poly v belt going to be a v belt?

Edit . . .

A serpentine belt is going to be a poly v belt

But a poly v belt is not necessarily going to be a serpentine belt

So I messed up

Same as everybody else, from time to time

Such is life

Too many flush toilets in the cities? I bet there is an interesting tale behind that comment!