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"gear noise" from engine in '93 Caravan (manual)

I have a 1993 Dodge Caravan with a manual transmission, and since I got the car back from some body work (I had been rear-ended), I’ve noticed a sort of “gear noise” from the engine. It’s a sort of n-r-r-r-r-r noise, much like the noise you get when you go 10 mph in reverse.

It is proportional to the speed of the engine (even if the car is in neutral) and seems to be coming from the right-hand side of the engine, around where the belts are. It’s not super-loud, but it’s very audible, especially if you drive past parked cars or a wall or anything else which reflects the sound back to you. Since it’s an old car, I pay attention to its noises, and I don’t recall hearing this particular noise before. FWIW, I do have air conditioning and power steering.

Any idea what this is, and whether it’s something that I need to bring the car back to the repair shop immediately for?

Some have reported damage to crankshaft thrust surfaces (resulting in excessive end play)from accidents, but I can’t see this making the type of noise you descride. Perhaps the same force directed into the transmission via the driveshaft has caused some type of misalignment (inside the transmission) but good luck proving this.

Keep an open mind and preform normal tests to isolate noises as if there was no damaging effect from the accident.

Never heard of a 93 Caravan (or any year of Caravan for that matter) with a manual trans. Definitly for your more adventureous “socer mom”.

I just realized this is a front wheel drive vehicle, that changes everything as a hit in the back cannot affect front wheel drive components (or I can’t see how).

Remove the serpentine belt and momentarily start the engine and see if the noise is still there…Stopped and in neutral, engine running, hold the clutch to the floor. Does the noise stop or change?

  1. There are 3 belts: one for A/C, one for the power steering pump, and one for the alternator and water pump (?). Whioh is the serpentine? If it’s the last one, I’ll have to remove them all. I’m not sure exactly how to remove them, and I’m worried that I’ll get the tension wrong if I take the belts off an put them back on. I don’t have a spare car and I live in an apartment building, so I can’t just leave it around and futz around until I get it working again.

  2. Stopped and in neutral, pushing the clutch has no effect on the noise.

My question is mainly how urgent it is to get it fixed.

Your car doesn’t have a serpentine belt, as a serpentine belt cars have only one belt. You might borrow a mechanic’s stethescope or use short length of stiff hose and put one end of the hose on each component driven by the belt (power steering pump, ac compressor, alternator,water pump) while you listen for the noise. If I were to bet on your problem, I would bet on the bearing in the ac clutch.