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Screeching noise before car has warmed up

My 1993 Geo Prizm (with 275,000 miles on it) makes an awful high pitched screeching noise when I first start my car in the morning. The noise goes away once I am in second or third gear and is completely gone when my car is warmed up. It used to just happen in the winter and now it also happens during the summer. I had all my belts replaced maybe 6 years ago. Is this a problem of loose belts or bad power steering pump. Looking at the pump when I’m turning the wheel it seems as though the power steering pump belt stops turning. I also have crunching noises comes from, I think, my wheels when I turn sharply. What could this noise be? Time for a new car??!!!

Most probably the belts. A good mechanic should be able to look and decide if they are loose or need to be changed. 6 years and a lot of miles, you are overdue for change. Also, when the belt is out, all the pulleys should be hand rotated to see if everything is fine. You might need some extra work based on the result of this.

Some advocate spraying a bit water on the belt and see if the noise goes away temporarily and this would be the 1st hint.

I second the drive belt(s) as being the problem. Unrelated, but when was the last time the timing belt on your car was changed? (if it has one) If it’s been more than 100K miles, you’re living on borrowed time.

Chances are that you simply need a new belt. You may also need a new belt tensioner too.

And the cruching noise is probably an outer CV joint or two.

And I agree with Oblivion.

I’m just curious, what would be an indication that the power steering pump was going bad?

Increased growling noise when you turn the steering wheel is typically an indication of pump failure, Screeching noise is usually a belt or tensioner.

Sometimes you can use a length of garden hose as a sort of stethoscope to narrow where the sound is coming from. Be careful to keep it away from any moving parts. I expect this is a bad or mis-adjusted belt, but it could be something the belt is driving too, like the water pump, the power steering pump, or a bad idler pully bearing. It could be coming from the timing belt idler too.

So, it looks like it is most definitely the belts but it appears as though the belts are not worn, cracked, or loose. They actually look like they are in decent shape and at the right tension. I sprayed water on the belts and the noise goes away. All the belts were replaced in 2003 and they have less then 100K miles on them. So, I’ve heard that there is some lubricant you can get to put on the belts that helps with the noise and we’ll likely just try that. We can’t think of really anything else that it could be. I’m just relieved to not have to have anyone work on a car that is old, rusty, and not worth much.

Yes, there is a “belt dressing” that you can buy at any parts stiore. Most use it only as a diagnostic tool, not a fix.

2003? 100,000 miles? No WONDER it’s slipping! You are WAY overdue for belts.

Lubricant? Shirley, the point of a belt dressing is to eliminate slip between the belt and pulley, not encourage it?

Nice catch, Macfist!