Our '07 Ford Freestyle (195K) has begun making a “growling” sound when it’s started up? When we drop it into gear (D or R), the noise reduces but doesn’t go away. While driving, it sounds more like a low db “whirr”? The intensity seems to be correlated to the engine rpm (not the mph). Wonder if this is an early sign of CVT failure?
Take it to a Ford dealer.
I think that the best answer is…possibly.
When was the last time (in terms of both odometer mileage and date) that the trans fluid was changed?
If the answer is…never…or…I don’t know…or…more than 3 years ago, then the probability of a trans problem increases from possible to likely.
However, there is also a chance that the noise has nothing whatever to do with the transmission. As they age, many cars develop noise problems related to loose or damaged heat shields on the exhaust system, so the noise could simply be that type of benign but annoying problem.
My advice is to have the vehicle put on a lift in order to check the condition of the heat shield(s). If the heat shield(s) prove to be tight & undamaged, then I would suggest having the trans fluid (& filter) changed while it is on the lift. You just may forestall future trans problems by doing that–as long as the correct fluid is used. I would advise using only the CVT fluid from the Ford dealer (rather than using some “witch’s brew” so-called “universal” trans fluid) in order to avoid problems.
I don’t think this is CVT related. I suspect it’s an engine component on its way out. A CVT related sound would most likely only begin when you put the tranny in gear and would be affected by the speed of the car, rather than the speed of the engine.
Pop the hood and see if you can tell where it’s coming from. You might be surprised at how easy it is to tell. Mechanics also use a “mechanic’s stethoscope”, which amplifies the vibrations when it’s touched to the component causing the noise, You can do much the same using a simple metal rod, but be careful not to get the rod into something that’s spinning.
Mountainbike’s suggestion of using a mechanic’s stethoscope is a good one, and if the OP has a Harbor Freight store located anywhere near, this device is available there at VERY low cost.
I apologize that my advice seems a little simple, less inspiring and less informative then the rest, but; with a CVT, regardless what you may think it is, when it comes to a possible problem with a CVT trans, few can work on them or difinitivly exclude them other then the dealer. If you find out what’s wrong after spending your money on diagnostic tools, you’ll still have to take to a shop. How many are ready to work on an 07 Ford CVT ?