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High Pitched Startup Noise

I have a 2005 Ford Mustang V6 with 75k miles on it. I bought it about a year ago and when winter started i began to hear a weird, loud, high pitched noise when I started the car. I wasn’t able to figure out what is was but I assumed it was the starter. Once it became warm out again the car stopped making the noise but then (towards the start of summer) I started to hear the noise again.

Some people said online or in person that it was the starter while others said it was the AC and I just need to make sure I don’t start the car with the AC on. I tested different things and found that whenever I turned on the electricity, then turned the AC on, then turned the car all the way on that it didn’t make the noise (weirdly). That was about a week ago but now the car makes the noise loudly no matter what I do. I took a video of the noise (link below) and was wondering if anybody could help.


The noise you hear might be from a worn out overrunning clutch in the starter.


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How much DIY are you up for?

I would start by making sure the starter is securely bolted to the engine. If so, it probably needs repair or replacement. If you have an auto electric shop nearby and can do without it for a couple days, they can probably repair it if you bring it to them and then reinstall it yourself. Otherwise, buy a new or rebuilt and turn in the present one. Or, take it to a repair shop. They will most likely install a new or rebuilt starter.

Thanks for the quick response. I was planned to take off and check the starter myself but to me the noise sounded higher up, almost near the intake manifold. Is there some way I could check the starter beyond just tooth wear myself. My family knows 2 mechanics that we could take the car to who could help diagnose the issue but I wanted to try to fix it myself (plus some forum help haha).

I’m thinking I’ll check the starter tomorrow and if I can’t see any issues I’ll bring it to one of the mechanics we know and ask if they can tell me what the issue is so I can fix it. I’d rather fix it myself especially if it’s as easy as a starter replacement rather than have someone else do it but I only want to get a new starter if I’m sure that’s what the issue is.

Sounds good. Remember to disconnect the battery negative cable first - but even before that, if your radio needs a code to get it to work after it loses battery power, have that info on hand.

I would expect the mechanic to charge a diagnostic fee .

Try spraying the serpentine belt with a little water from one of those spray bottles before cranking. If that helps, it’s probably the belt that’s squealing on start-up.

To investigate further if it has to do with the serpentine belt, you could remove the belt and start the engine. If the noise is gone, it’s the belt or something it drives, or the tensioner.

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Sounds like the starter drive is failing, you probably won’t see anything abnormal after you remove the starter but you should replace it.

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I’ll jump in with those who think it’s the starter.

+1 on the serpentine belt. It’s the cheapest and most likely culprit. You can replace it yourself in 15 minutes for around $10. And even if it isn’t the source of the noise you probably need to replace it anyways if it’s been more than 2 years.

There was a small squeak from the belt that I started hearing a little after this sound started. I sprayed the belt and the squeak stopped so I replaced it. But this noise occurred before and after I replaced the belt. I tried turning each pulley and didn’t find much.

It sounds like the starter motor is next in line then.