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Aug 10, 2018 - 4:14:28 PM
13537 posts since 12/2/2005

My sister called me this afternoon in a panic - her car was making a "funny noise."

I went over to her house. When the car is started, there's a high-pitched whining noise. The pitch of the sound is in direct relationship with the RPMs; when the RPMs are higher the pitch is higher; when RPMs are low, the pitch is lower.

The sound SEEMS to be coming from the area of the alternator (car is a Toyota RAV4, and I put a stethoscope on it and it seemed it was coming from there.

I am far from an adept mechanic. My first thought was alternator bearings going. So I have two questions. First: does my uneducated diagnosis make sense? Is there something else that might be happening instead?

Second: if that's what's going on, is this a don't-drive-it-any-further-than-the-repair-shop situation, or is this a problem that can wait a few days, with a couple of hours of highway driving involved?

Thanks for any guidance.

Aug 10, 2018 - 5:09:18 PM
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oly

USA

1191 posts since 5/27/2006

Your diagnosis sounds right on, I would also check her power steering fluid level as that can cause a whine. I would not drive it more than necessary.

Aug 10, 2018 - 5:15:10 PM
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wizofos Players Union Member

USA

4511 posts since 8/19/2012

Take it to a auto parts store and they can put it on a meter and test the electrical system to tell you what the problem is. If the alternator goes bad while the car is running it will run for a while on the battery, when the battery is drained you be screwed man. If the battery is fully charged when the engine is not running you may be able to start the car but only going to run it until the battery is dead.
Sounds to me like the alternater bearings are going or one of the idler pulleys has bad bearings. It may run for a few days but should get it checked out soon.
The worse thing that can happen is that the bearings dissolve and the idler comes off or the alternator pulley comes off and shreds your belt.
If the belt is shredded it could cause all kinds of damage under there and the water pump will not work so won't be able to drive it.
Do you a serpentine belt or multiple drive belts?
I would get it diagnosed as soon as possible because if it craps out on you on the freeway you got an expensive tow bill.

Aug 10, 2018 - 5:15:25 PM
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nakigreengrass

New Zealand

3941 posts since 5/16/2012

Just slip the belt off and run the engine for a short time, to see if the noise goes away. Check If there is a idler pulley in the alternator belt system as the bearings sometimes fail in them. If the idler is ok and the noise has gone away...then it is most likely an alternator bearing.  It could also be the water pump that can be checked in the same way.

Edited by - nakigreengrass on 08/10/2018 17:16:56

Aug 11, 2018 - 7:14:54 AM

13537 posts since 12/2/2005

Car is at the local Toyota dealership and should be good to go within the hour. It was indeed the alternator. HUGE thanks to all for the guidance!!!!!

Aug 11, 2018 - 7:24:49 AM

Owen

Canada

2292 posts since 6/5/2011

quote:
Originally posted by eagleisland

My sister called me this afternoon in a panic - her car was making a "funny noise."  <snip>

I am far from an adept mechanic.  <snip>

Thanks for any guidance.

Yep... my go to guidance [a.k.a.advice] is: when in doubt, ask a banjo player.   wink   Glad everything's under control.

Aug 11, 2018 - 7:39:26 AM
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13537 posts since 12/2/2005

quote:
Originally posted by Owen
quote:
Originally posted by eagleisland

My sister called me this afternoon in a panic - her car was making a "funny noise." 

I am far from an adept mechanic. 

Thanks for any guidance.

Yep... my go to guidance [a.k.a.advice] is: when in doubt, ask a banjo player.   wink   Glad everything's under control.


Well, I don't ask banjo players for medical or legal advice. Unless they're medical providers or lawyers.

But there do seem to be a fair number of shade tree mechanics in this neck of the woods. ;-)

Aug 11, 2018 - 9:07:01 AM
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RonR

USA

1236 posts since 11/29/2012

I always spray wd 40 on the belt, pulley ,and alternator when it starts to squeak. It usually works for awhile.

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