Mechanics Stumped - Screeching Noise when Starting - Help!



I have a 2001 Ford Taurus, and every once in a while (maybe once a month) when I turn the key to start it, it screeches really loud, like a pissed off pterodactyl, and then doesn’t start. Or it starts barely, but then chugs a little and stalls out. If I turn it off and start it again, it’s fine, and it won’t happen for another month or a week or two months or whatever. It’s been happening for a couple years now.

None of the mechanics I’ve taken it to, dealership and others, have been able to tell me what it is, and no one has been able to fix it. They can’t reproduce the problem and say therefore they can’t do anything, and I shouldn’t worry about it. But it seems to be damaging my engine, I already replaced the ignition coil once, after a particularly bad start when the car was chugging and jerking. Now the mechanic is telling me that wasn’t related to the starting problem and he isn’t responsible for further damage caused by the starting problem even though he didn’t/wouldn’t fix it. grr.

does anyone know what this could be? or how I can diagnose the problem?


My guess is that you have a bearing slowly dying on a pulley being rotated by the serpentine belt, and that it’s occasionally binding. That would scream like a banshee as the belt were dragged over it and might place enough load on the crank to prevent a freshly started crank from continuing to turn.

If it were me I’d remove the serpentine belt and check each pulley for play both laterally and axially and for binding.