My '98 Chevy Lumina has about 173,000 miles on it. Yesterday I heard what sounded like a bubbling/gurgling noise in the front passenger side area of the car from the moment I started the engine until I arrived home and turned the car off about fifteen minutes later. The “bubbling” seemed to increase in speed a little bit when the car would accelerate, but mostly stayed pretty constant. When I arrived home and parked, I opened the hood with the engine still running and heard metallic clanging like a burglar alarm bell coming from the area of the serpentine belt. I’m pretty sure this “alarm bell” is trying to tell me that something needs fixing, and I’m hoping that some people here with far more car knowledge than me can tell me what the problem is likely to be, how easy it might be for me to fix (it would have to be a pretty simple job for me to attempt it myself), how expensive it might be for a mechanic to fix and whether it’s likely to be safe to drive to a repair garage myself or whether it had better be towed. Thanks in advance.
Remove the belt and turn the pulleys.
Bubbling/gurgling is probably air trapped in the cooling system. When the coolant circulates through the heater core in the passenger’s side of the dashboard, you hear it gurgling because of the air trapped in the system. Unrelated to the “alarm bell” which sounds like a problem with one of the accessories driven by the serpentine belt.
Sound like you might have a couple of problems. First check the serpetine belt. With the belt off, check the water pump pully to see if it wobbles. If it wobbles its time to replace it. The bubblinggurgling sound could be the coolant over boiling. If you have to change the water pump don’t forget the thermostat!
That was my first thought when I heard this noise, that something had gone wrong with the cooling system and the coolant was overheating and boiling. The coolant thermometer on the dashboard didn’t say that it was too hot. I think that what sounded like bubbling and gurgling to me at first while inside the car and driving it was actually the clanging noise from the serpentine belt being muffled by the hood and dashboard.
The other thing you might want to check is the cooling fan blades on the front of the generator. They do have a tendency to crack and sometimes break off.
A friend of mine had this same issue on a Sebring V6. It turned out to be a bolt had come loose on one of the pulleys and had backed out.
As stated earlier, remove the belt and turn the pulleys by hand.