I just purchased a used 2010 Corolla 3 days ago. I've only now noticed that when I start the car, there is a squeaking sound coming from the engine. It lasts no more than a second. Sounds like it would be belt related (though my car knowledge is very minimal). I haven't had the car long enough to figure out if it only happens in the morning, but that's when I've noticed it. The car has 26,000 kms on it.

My question is this - is this weather related and normal, i.e. starting up the car on cold/damp april mornings, or is this something I should get fixed at the service centre before it gets worse. I get a free 6 month / 8,000km check up, so if I can wait for that I would.

5 Answers 5


The most likely cause is the serpentine belt. Unless the belt shows obvious wear or fraying or the squealing gets worse it's not an emergency and can likely wait until the service you have scheduled. However call the dealer where you bought the car today and tell them about it now so there is a record it's been doing it since you bought the car. The dealer I worked at would repair this at no charge within 30 days of buying the car, but not everyone does that, some places it's as short as 3 days, others as long as 90.

With the year and mileage you mentioned it's likely the car is still under factory warranty however they may deem the belt "normal wear and tear" and not cover it under the factory warranty which is why I recommend calling them today.

  • I took the car in. Although it was covered under warranty, the service agent at Toyota said belts do that when they are wet. Once the water dries up after a second or two it catches and is good to go. He said all cars do this. Is this true? Apr 15, 2011 at 5:30
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    @paul No, this is not normal. Suggest to the service agent that you two go to the sales department and grab 5 random keys for cars on their lot. Crank them all up and see how many of them do that. Apr 15, 2011 at 13:22

You should look under the hood for the accessory belt(s) driving the alternator, power steering and water pump. One or more of those might be a bit loose. There's a good chance that tightening that belt is quick work with a socket set to tighten the aptly-named belt tensioner pulley.

If you have a friend start the car while you listen under the hood (don't wear loose clothing or jewelry, of course), you might be able to localize the squeal on cold start.

It's also possible that the belt tensioner pulley is tired. My wife's car had one go bad in the past few months. That said, she has nearly 100K miles on her car.


Take the serpentine belt off and start the car for a second and if the noise persists it is something in the engine, if the noise goes away there is an obvious problem with one the the pullies or belt.


Sounds like a slipping belt, it's a little worn so it slips over the pulleys. That's causing the squeaking noise. It's not a thing that requires immediate replacement unless it gets worse or the squeaking doesn't stop after a few seconds.

  • It turns out the 2010 Corolla's have timing chains instead of belts. Is there more than one belt that could cause this? Apr 4, 2011 at 15:59
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    @Paul Belardi Well, its definitely not the timing belt (or chain). Those must never slip (that would probably ruin the engine). See first sentence in @Bob Cross's answer.
    – jensgram
    Apr 5, 2011 at 5:42
  • @jensgram, good point. I forgot to point out that slipping timing chain would equal a broken engine. So it's probably not that.... ;-)
    – Bob Cross
    Apr 5, 2011 at 12:23
  • Thanks. As I said I have a beginner's knowledge of cars, which is why I'm here. Apr 5, 2011 at 21:04

Yes the nights dew could play a part by dampening the metal and allowing for slippage of the belt causing it to squeal momentarily until the dew dries up. The problem could be as simple as tightening your alternator belt. There is an adjustment bolt that allows you to loosen or tighten your alternator belt. just a couple of turns should do it. if this does not work then you may want to look into your Idler Tension Pulley.

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    Have you ever noticed that things don't get condensation on them when they are under cover (like a car in a car port)? Dec 8, 2015 at 2:09

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