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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I was sadly unable to make a video for this issue.

But basically, I was driving my car just fine last night in about 28° weather with no issues on startup or cold starts. And that's normally the temperature I start my car in the mornings for work. Today was the coldest day in Alabama, dropped to around 10° to 15°... now upon startup the engine would make a grinding noise. My first thought was just low oil pressure. Upon checking I found I had low oil but not bad enough to cause the noise, I filled it up to spec. Noise persisted. I let the car run to operating temperature, noise became quite but was still noticeable especially when I opened the hood.

Upon inspection during noise, I localized the sound to the belt system. Someone suggested that my belt is bad and the cold weather just made the sound more noticeable. I wanted everyone's opinion on this. P.S. I have not tried a cold start in warm weather as the problem was noticed this morning during the 15° weather.


2004 Chevy Impala, base model.

Purchased with 144,000 miles, noise accrued at around 148k miles
 

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Check the individual pulleys, bet there is a bearing starting to go on one of them. Most likely is the tensioner pulley or the idler pulley. My guess it that the cold is the "trigger" for it. Check all the others while you are at it. Belts usually make a "squealing" noise as they become loose, so I'm leaning away from the belt. Check it too though.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Could you guess on how long I have before on of the pulleys locks and snaps the belt? (This is my daily driver)

Also, where would be the easiest place to just buy it right away? I'd rather not have to order an entire pulley assembly off the Internet and have to wait for delivery. Would autozone maybe have them in fairly constant stock?
 

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Most of your big box stores (Autozone and the like) will have that stuff in stock. As to how long, I couldn't really say. Before you throw any money at it, check to see what the problem is. If there wasn't an issue until it got really cold, you most likely have a little bit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Update: pulled the belt off and tested each pulley. All the pulleys acted as the should, except for the Power Steering pulley. I wasnt familiar with how stiff it should be. It doesnt free spin like the other pulleys, when given a hard spin it slows down real quick and stops.

I was curious as to if this was a natural stiffness of the P/S pulley?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
2nd update: I decided to put some pressure on the system. Obviously when revving the noise in the belt system becomes louder. But upon turning the car while idle the sound becomes REALLY loud. I wasn't sure if it was just more tension being applied to the belt when the Power Steering engaged. Or if it's the Power Steering itself, going bad.
 

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Most times your PS is under high pressure and would be hard to turn with the cap on. Maybe even hard with it off... However if you think it is a PS issue when your car is running and it is making that noise does it get worse when you turn your steering wheel? Any time I have ever tested the pumps I always used a PS inline tester.. Goes inline with your High Pressure line and with the car jacked up you turn the wheel lock to lock while testing the line. Should be within specs of the pump. If when locked it don't go to max or even much higher then it was while running I would replace the pump...

Other then that, It would be hard to know what the issue is... In rare cases it could be a spun main bearing. Without knowing what the turning of the steering does it is hard to guess...

All the pulleys were ok? None had back and forth movement? The water pump moved free without noise? the Alt moved free without any play in the pully?

Sorry hard to guess without it being in front it...

James
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks, James.

Right now like i said the noise become louder upon steering idle. But i dont have an inline tester handy. As of testing again about an hour ago, the water pump pulley almost acted as it was wobbling while the engine was idle. However upon spinning it and attempting to move it, it had no play and it spun fine with no odd noises... considering i have only basic mechanical knowledge. I decided to break down and have a mechanic look at it in a couple days. I have had thoughts of just replacing all the pulleys and the belt, but would that be over doing it?
 

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Yeah I don't do the Replace everything Method... Sadly if there is a problem with a Pump or something other then the pulley or belt your just wasting money...

If you don't know when the car had the last belt or it looks bad (Underside of belt has cracks in the ridges all over not just one here and there. I would for sure replace belt...

IT could even be a pully out of alignment. Hard to say..

James
 

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Problem with the Belts is they can be an issue. It is rare not to have signs of being bad. But they can over time have a problem that makes them make noise. However a problem with Grinding, That sounds like more of an issue then a belt.

One you said that the weather was very low. What does your coolant level look like? was it done with Good 50/50 mix or was it only filled with Water? I ask this because I have done some repairs on friends cars that do to not having right mix for the weather froze the line and destroyed the water pump fins. That was my first thought when you said grinding...

If your system is 50/50 or better and your water pump moves the water while running then it is a good chance that isn't the issue.

BELT sounds isn't grinding. If it is ongoing to me sounds like a different issue then a belt. Squeal or squeak is good belt being bad sound.

If you look at the underside of the belt. Where the grooves are and there is cracks on all rows and all over change out the belt. (Or I would anyway) However if it isn't a belt issue, Won't really help much with the Grinding problem...

James
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I'm not positive on the coolant before the problem arose. I know when the problem started I had noticed the coolant recovery res was almost empty so I filled it to the cold line with a 50/50 mixture. Not sure what was in before.
 

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what kind of coolant did you put in? I know you said 50/50, but there are different kinds and most of them don't mix well. Your car came stock with Dexcool (orange in color), if you put the "green" stuff into it, your coolant will turn into a sludge and the only way to get it out is flush it all.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
what kind of coolant did you put in? I know you said 50/50, but there are different kinds and most of them don't mix well. Your car came stock with Dexcool (orange in color), if you put the "green" stuff into it, your coolant will turn into a sludge and the only way to get it out is flush it all.
Before I added anything I noticed the coolant color was kinda pinkish. I added Dexcool into it, but I added a version of dexcool that was already at a 50/50 mixture, also a pink color. So I'm assuming that may have been similar to what was in it before.

We are supposed to have warmer weather this week, up in the 50° to 70° range. Should I let the car sit in the heat and if there is ice in the system from an improper mixture, would I thaw it enough?
 

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It would thaw when the car warmed up actually, as coolant usually gets to 190+ degrees. If the water pump fins were damaged as James pointed out, If the coolant was to thaw now, it doesn't matter as the damage has been done.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
It would thaw when the car warmed up actually, as coolant usually gets to 190+ degrees. If the water pump fins were damaged as James pointed out, If the coolant was to thaw now, it doesn't matter as the damage has been done.
So if the fins were damaged, would the sound continue? Or would the water pump cease to properly cool then engine? Would I notice the temperature gauge go up past operating temps?
 

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The sound would no keep going on. It would make it then free spin. Again at first that came to mind. I however not sure that it is that unless as stated by worthirt it could be that the damage was done but didn't break it down all the way and the grinding you hear is the broken fins in the pump area. However without the Belt and turning the Water pump will clear that up... IF you are able to turn the water pump without a grind or without problem. Meaning it spins well by hand then it isn't the issue....

James
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
The sound would no keep going on. It would make it then free spin. Again at first that came to mind. I however not sure that it is that unless as stated by worthirt it could be that the damage was done but didn't break it down all the way and the grinding you hear is the broken fins in the pump area. However without the Belt and turning the Water pump will clear that up... IF you are able to turn the water pump without a grind or without problem. Meaning it spins well by hand then it isn't the issue....

James
That kinda sucks... As I did free spin the water pump several times in both directions. I heard no grinding noise. I will trying again by spinning it faster... I'd hate to say it, but I'm hoping that is the problem. Or else I'm pretty much back to square one.
 

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Well if you have tried all the pulleys and nothing has a Grinding sounds, Then it almost sounds like something I don't really want to think about. That is, Could be the Motor. Sorry it is hard to say because not there to be able to look over it.. However seeing that it sounds like it is coming from the front area. I would check by taking out the Spark Plugs close to the pulleys and see if there is a Broken Piston inside! Another thing you could do is take all the plugs out and take a Wrench and turn the main pulley and see if the sound is heard. This is without the belt being connected. I bought an Impala for my brother that was in a NO Crank no start state and one thing I wanted to check before buying it was that it wasn't seized. IT wasn't so I bought it, Repaired it and gave it to him. Anyway that is one way of being able to check for that.. However in your case it could check if your problem is Motor related this way... I hope that it isn't

James
 
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