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Old 07-11-2006, 01:58 AM   #1
sgoff83
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1996 SL2
Default 1996 Saturn SL2: Major squealing problem!

I really hope someone can help me with this problem because it's starting to bug me and I REALLY hope it's nothing major as I am moving down to southern California at the end of July and can NOT afford any humongous repairs.

THE CAR: A 1996 Saturn SL2 with about 35K miles on it when I bought it a month and a half ago and now it's up to 36,500 miles.

THE PROBLEM: Whenever I start up the car (and this problem has only presented itself in the past couple of weeks...when I first got it, it would squeal for about 1 minute and then shut up), this high-pitched squealing noise comes out from under the hood! It won't start squealing until I actually put the car into gear (drive or reverse) and it won't squeal when the car is in motion...only when the car is stopped (like at a stop sign or stop light) and idling away. The squealing finally seems to stop after the engine is completely warmed up (which is a little past the quarter mark on the temperature gauge).

After the engine is warmed up, you can only hear it faintly...but it's still noticeable.

My suspicion is a loose fan belt. My boss told me today, that with Saturns, there isn't two or three fan belts like in most other cars...but only one that controls many things in the engine (I'm sorry...not too knowledgeable about cars so forgive my stupidity on the subject matter).

I'm hoping that someone here can help me either solve this problem or give me some advice on what the problem may be and/or how to go about fixing it!

Thank you for everyone's time!

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Old 07-11-2006, 02:53 AM   #2
Nowhere Man
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1995 SW2
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL2: Major squealing problem!

Sounds like just a serpintine belt from what you are describing. Not too expensive at the local parts store, $20-$30.

...
95' SW2
131,000 Miles
32-MPG avg.

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Old 07-11-2006, 05:23 PM   #3
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Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL2: Major squealing problem!

Check your belt tensioner. With the engine off, after you've got the serp belt off turn by hand your idler pulley, if it squeals/wobbles it has to be replaced.

Everytime I replaced my serp belts I've had to replace the belt tensioner.
I had the squeal in my 98 SL2-it needed belt tensioner, idler pulley and serp belt at 175,000 miles.

Two weeks ago the serp belt was loose from a failing belt tensioner on my other car-a 98 SL.
I replaced both for that car at 150,000 miles.
I would search the how to library and consider doing it yourself to save $$$$.

Serpentine belt-$25
Belt tensioner-$65
Idler pulley-$40

You don't want a serp belt to break on you---you could lose power steering
pump, water pump and LOTS OF $$$$$ to get it fixed!

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Old 07-11-2006, 05:31 PM   #4
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1996 SW2
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL2: Major squealing problem!

While you've got the belt off, spin each pulley (A/C compressor, water pump, alternator, power steering, idler, tensioner) by hand; that should give you a clue whether it's one of them, or just the belt, that's the culprit.

(Oh, and there's no fan belt. Fans on most cars have been electric for decades now; you might wanna "update" your boss.)

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Old 07-11-2006, 10:01 PM   #5
sgoff83
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1996 SL2
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL2: Major squealing problem!

Thank you to everyone for helping me out with this!!! I appreciate it soooo much!

I have no idea what to do, but if there's a help section on this web site (as, I believe, someone above mentioned), I would do ANYTHING to save myself some money!

Again, thank you! And if anyone else has any advice to give, I'd much appreciate it!!!

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Old 05-19-2015, 10:16 AM   #6
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1993 SL2
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL2: Major squealing problem!

I have this same problem. Replaced with parts from Autozone, was quiet for a week and started again. After seeing many threads on this forum, I have some ideas how to fix this, but it isn't with what Autozone has to offer. I will report back when I have some success.

...
'93 SL2, 5 speed manual, 276K

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Old 05-19-2015, 11:17 AM   #7
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL2: Major squealing problem!

Search for richpin videos on serpentine belt and belt tensioner replacement. If your serp belt is floppy by finger pressing on the belt, the belt tensioner is worn out and contributing to belt squealing; the crankshaft pulley trying to pull the belt being held by all the accessory pulleys from turning resulting in squealing at the crank pulley.

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Old 05-24-2015, 08:48 AM   #8
shim bucket
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1996 SL2
1996
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL2: Major squealing problem!

Remove belt. The tensioner should not move easily. A proper tensioner will require leverage to move- wrench with extention and oomph driving it. Next by hand spin the idler pulley- the lone pulley up top and center. It should spin smoothly with little to no noise and not be lumpy or "Krunky". If it is smooth then run engine briefly. This will determine if the AC compressor is causing the noise. If for the brief moment you run the engine there is no squeal then I would look to replacing your belt or at least clean your belt with toothbrush and dish soap -hot water.. I cleaned the pulley and grooves before replacing the belt. Take brake parts cleaner or carb and choke cleaner and start up top spraying clean all the grooves working down. I must mention my experience on new belt tensioners- I replaced the tensioner on my saturn with a Goodyear brand. After this I could hear a rapid vibration while driving coming from the front passenger side of car- thought it was in the dash. It was the new tensioner. New tensioner comes with a 90mm diameter pulley on it. The oem has a 100mm pulley. The smaller diameter pulley allowed the tensioner arm to index out more to the point it was bouncing off the mechanical stops making for a rapid and varying with RPM vibration noise. As I had thrown out the old tensioner I went to the store and bought a replacement idler pulley which is 100mm and installed it on my Good Year tensioner. All has been restored.

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Old 06-12-2015, 12:25 PM   #9
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1993 SL2
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL2: Major squealing problem!

Since my last post, I put in the smaller belt from O'Reilly Auto (Gates K050778) and no more squeals. I don't have that plastic pulley from the Autozone tensioner though. I changed it to the old metal pulley from my last tensioner since the bearings were still good. 3 weeks now still quiet. When I put the last belt on, it was making noise again in a week. Autozone does not offer the smaller size belt.

...
'93 SL2, 5 speed manual, 276K

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Old 06-12-2015, 12:28 PM   #10
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1993 SL2
Default Re: 1996 Saturn SL2: Major squealing problem!

Shim Bucket, good information on the size of the pulley. Not sure if mine is 90mm or 100mm. It's probably the 100mm. I will check when I have time. I do know the upper (idler) pulley is 100mm.

...
'93 SL2, 5 speed manual, 276K

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