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Noise at start - gone in 4 blocks

An awful high-pitch squeak noise now starts when I start our 2003 Kia Spectra. If it doesn’t start when I start the car, then it starts when I touch the brakes (I’m not in motion yet) or I turn on the AC.

I also notice the car seems to loose horsepower when this is happening. The noise doesn’t last once I reach my coasting speed, but returns when I brake.

Lastly, I live on the coast in Southern California - so it’s pretty mild year round, and the noise leaves by the time I reach the 4th block down the road.

Have you, or a mechanic, tried to ascertain the source of the noise? You didn’t say whether it comes from under the hood, or under the car, or from a certain corner of the vehicle. These things would be helpful to know.

Based on the information you provided, I think you may have a worn serpentine belt. The noise is the belt slipping on the alternator and/or the AC compressor pulleys.

You could check this by watching and listening with the hood open as someone else starts the car and turns on the AC.

Moisture makes the noise worse, and since you live on the coast I have to assume there’s some moisture in the air.

The noise stops after a few blocks because the slipping belt heats up from friction, the moisture is driven off, and the slipping stops or is minimized.

A new serpentine belt, properly installed and tensioned, may make the noise go away.

How many miles on this car? Have you had the timing belt replaced yet? The timing belt it not what’s making the noise, but it is important to replace it at the proper interval, and the age of your car tells me it should probably have been replaced by now.

Yes, the noise does come from under the hood - seems to come from the driver’s side. We have a LOT of moister in the air (usually foggy in the morning). We bought it used, and my guess is that the timing belt hasn’t been replaced. It has about 90,000 miles on it.

Is this dangerous? Can I wait until the weekend to get these replaced? (I’m guessing that the timing belt and the serpentine belt are two different things).

Thanks for your help!!

Please remember I’m just guessing at this. I can’t see the car or hear the noise.

Yes, the timing belt and the serpentine belt are two different things. The serpentine belt is the one you can see when you open the hood and look at the engine. The timing belt is under a cover and you can’t normally see it.

“Is it dangerous?” The noise from the serpentine belt is not dangerous, but the fact that the timing belt has never been replaced might be. If the timing belt breaks there will be internal engine damage. Not good. I think the normal replacement interval for your car’s timing belt is 60K miles.

Please check your owner’s manual to verify this.

Yes, you can wait until the weekend to get these things replaced, but you really need to make sure the timing belt is replaced if necessary.