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I’d appreciate any advice or input you may have. I own a 2010 Hyundai Elantra. Bought it used in 2014 with 61K miles on it. The car was great for me for a couple years, and required nothing besides regular maintenance and oil changes. In September of last year (2016), I got the timing belt replaced, along with the water pump, pulleys, and tensioners, as suggested in the user manual. The AC belt needed to be replaced at this time as well. I decided to get the work done at a local Meineke that I had heard good things about, but I’ve had problems ever since.

A couple weeks after getting the work done, I spent a week at the beach. When attempting to start my car towards the end of the trip, it wouldn’t start. I tried over and over, and after about 15 minutes it did start, but the engine was really slow to turn over. The car had been baking in the sun for days, and hadn’t been started for 4-5 days, but I’d never run into any issues with my car starting before. I took the car back to Meineke and they told me that they could not recreate the problem, and so they did nothing.

About a month after this, my car began to squeal when I started it up. A loud, high-pitched, continuous squeal. It would generally stop after the car warmed up, but it got worse over time, squealing when I made sharp turns as well. I took it back to Meineke and they supposedly tightened the belts up. They told me to come back if the problem persisted. Well, the problem sure did persist, so I brought my car back in yet again. This time they told me that the AC belt tensioners were bad. They replaced these, along with the AC belt itself (under warranty, thankfully), and told me this should fix the problem.

Indeed, this did seem to fix the squealing issue for about a month and a half. However, about a month ago the squealing returned. The same high-pitched, loud squeal occurs when I start my car for the first time in a few days. I should note that the instant I shift into gear, the squealing stops. Also, after I start my car and run it for a while, I can shut it off and leave it for a few hours, and it won’t squeal on start up the next time. The squealing only occurs after periods of inactivity.

I would be extremely grateful for any advice that you all may have. Does anyone know what the problem could be? I wish I knew of an honest mechanic in my area, but no one seems to be able to point me to one. I feel like I am getting jerked around by Meineke, or they have a handful of incompetent mechanics that did the timing belt installation wrong. I’d like to hear how others would proceed in this situation.

Thanks!

  • Thanks for your reply. Would you mind telling me how you know it's the accessory belt, so that I can go to them with that info and seem more justified in requesting a free repair? – imcd9210 Jul 21 '17 at 14:19
  • @juhist I wish you'd post those comments as an answer, it was quite informative on how to diagnose belt noises and should not be just left as a comment imho. – Alok Aug 25 '17 at 22:03
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It's not timing belt that is squealing, it's the accessory belt. They have to touch the accessory belt to replace the timing belt. Something went wrong in the repair, and your best option is to demand them to fix the problem. For free, obviously, as the problem was caused by an improper repair.

The squealing you heard is very typical of accessory belt squeal. Often times, the squeal occurs after starting the car and stops after a certain amount of time. The squeal is typically so loud that you immediately can tell there's something wrong with the car. As far as I know, the reason for the squeal stopping is that the slipping of the belt produces friction heat, and when the belt heats up due to the produced heat, it gets better grip.

The timing belt has positive engagement, so it cannot slip. It can jump teeth, but then you would soon have at least poorly running engine and perhaps even engine damage if that happens multiple times. Almost always, when you hear squealing, it's some belt without positive engagement slipping. There may be multiple accessory belts. The accessory belts have to be removed when working on the timing belt because the timing belt is under them. Unfortunately, I cannot show with 100% certainty that it's because of a poor repair, but if they had to remove the belts, it indicates that might be a very probable cause.

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Replace the accessory belts, they are old and worn (slipping).

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I have an Elantra and have this particularly bad issue. The "cheapest belt" from advance Auto did not properly fix it. It is the AC/main pulley/tensioner pulley. Dayco belts did not work but I purchased a gates belt and that appeared to fix it until the belt ran for about a year. The gates was about 2x more expensive but appears to be worth it.

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