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loud whine: power steering or alternator?

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Old 11-15-08, 09:21 AM   #1
Chilkoot
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Default loud whine: power steering or alternator?

Whenever my car is on there's an obnoxious whine that comes from my engine bay, and it gets a bit louder with any throttle at all. It almost sounds like a very large electric motor whirring. I can't hear it above wind noise once I get to 15mph or so, so it's not outrageous, but it bothers me nonetheless. I can definitely tell it's coming from in front of the left bank, but due to the locations of the alt and ps I can't tell which it's coming from, but definitely in that area.

I at first thought it was my power steering due to the 20k miles it ran without any maintenance before I acquired it, but a few fresh quarts of ATF didn't do anything to the noise. The power steering still works just fine, I haven't noticed any change in it since I got the car. The noise just makes me wince whenever I have my windows down (all the time). Is it possible and/or common that the P/S could be making a constant and unchanging whine without any other noticable symptoms at all?

But, this area does flood a lot and I've accidentally run through several areas of standing water in the last year, making me think that my alternator could be corroding and making the noise. Is this possible and/or common? In the past month or so my car has taken 5-6 clicks to start when it's cold instead of the usual 2-3 (which it still does while hot), so I'm getting very suspicious of my alternator.

I've driven maybe 1000 miles (~6 months) since the noise started with no change, waiting for the rogue component to break so that I could just fix it. No luck there, and I don't want to replace the alternator if there's a good chance it's the power steering.

Thanks
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Last edited by Chilkoot; 11-15-08 at 09:25 AM..
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Old 11-15-08, 11:04 AM   #2
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does it whine when you turn.. i have the same exact whine from your description, mine goes away everytime i fill the power steering, i have to do it on average like once every 2 weeks..
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Old 11-15-08, 12:07 PM   #3
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Sounds like your idler fan bracket pulley is about to go, basically the bearings in this pulley are on their last legs and will eventually lock up and pop your alternator belt. Do a search for the fan bracket pulley. You will need to replace this.
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Old 11-15-08, 11:32 PM   #4
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what makes you think it's the fan bracket? the fan bracket is on driver's side of the engine by the A/C compressor, and it sounds like it is coming from underneath the intake.
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Old 11-15-08, 11:57 PM   #5
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PS pump or alternator.
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Old 11-16-08, 07:25 AM   #6
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duh PD, which one lol.
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Old 11-16-08, 09:23 AM   #7
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Suspected it to be the bracket, based on it getting louder when you accelerate. You said that the noise didn't go away even after filling it with PS fluid. I should have read a lil more carefully. With your area flooding quite alot, you haveing to turn the car 5-6 clicks to get turn over, I would prpbably lean more towards the alternator now. Is located on the underside of the car and the bearings of the alternator probably are on their last legs with the flooding.
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Old 11-16-08, 10:48 AM   #8
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Does it whine more when you turn the wheel, or use accessories, like roll up the windows, or turn on the headlamps + fog lights.
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Old 11-16-08, 11:31 AM   #9
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I am going to go against everyone else and say it's the AC Compressor! When my ac compressor went out it had the same symptoms. Let me know if I'm right.........
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Old 11-16-08, 09:28 PM   #10
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i'll be honest, the engine's solid but my accessories are all falling apart. my fan bracket is definitely worn based on age and mileage alone, and my A/C light does flash when I turn it on, nor does the AC work, but I suspect that's on account of low r134A. However, I don't suspect either of those to be the culprit as I can clearly tell that the noise is coming from the passenger side of the engine bay underneath the MAF.

The noise seems to be directly tied to engine RPMs and engine RPMs alone. Turning on headlights makes no difference. Turning the wheel in park makes the noise drop slightly, but it sounds like the whole engine is revving down and the noise with it, as opposed to the noise actually changing due to the wheels turning, and as soon as I stop moving the wheel it returns to normal idle level. The noise is not obnoxiously loud, if this helps to visualize it sounds like an old Honda or Volvo station wagon that goes "whirrrrr" as it revs up, like there's a 200k mile 4cyl under my hood.

I myself am leaning towards the alternator, but a former mechanic I used to work with took a listen and was definitely leaning towards the power steering, and told me to just run it until the PS died and replace it. This is where my dilemma comes in.

edit: IACV was bypassed long before this became an issue, and never gave me any noticeable difference in running. I do not suspect it in the least.

edit edit: any chance it's the PS solenoid? do those make a constant noise that's louder than the engine when it gets blocked?

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Old 11-16-08, 09:33 PM   #11
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crap, i gotta take it to my mechanic soon.. i have the same problem, and i got this ticking noise coming from the engine bay.. it seems like the main fan or the belt is running off course or something.. but there's also the noise that comes when the power steering fluid is low, goes away when i fill it.. so you guys think thats the alternator? it goes away when i fill it..
the ticking however is a belt or something, that's what it sounds like atleast.. it makes less noise in neutral than in drive
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Old 11-16-08, 10:21 PM   #12
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the ticking is probably your valves, nothing to worry about on these engines.
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Old 11-16-08, 11:44 PM   #13
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It is from what i read the clutch pack for the fan .
It is the same for 90 -00 models .
If you are in park and rev the car the the rpm's raise and it gets louder like a huge fan and not a whining it is your clutch oil seizing up. It will not damage anything but slow you performance , burn more gas and make alot of noise.
You can test it more by slowly raising rpms and if it stops at 400rpms then you found it.
The clutch when working properly will make a loud whirring noise at start up for 3 seconds and stop as the oil spins out.

I made a post a while ago when my clutch went and i switched to an electric fan setup.
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Old 11-17-08, 07:07 AM   #14
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I noticed a similar noise this morning driving to work. The whine seems to increase with rpms but I also noticed that there is a whine when turning the wheel. It seems to be less noticeable after the car warms up.
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Old 11-17-08, 09:48 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LiCelsior View Post
duh PD, which one lol.
whichever one seems to be making noise DUH

if you have a whine when you turn the wheel and your PS pump is topped off, it's dying.
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Old 11-17-08, 09:48 AM
 
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alternator, bracket, car, es300, fan, idler, loud, making, noise, station, steering, turning, volvo, wagon, wheels, whines, whining

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