My 1996 Pathfinder has over the past few weeks started squeeling and acting like it isn't going to start but after a few tries it starts and in a few minutes it stops squeeling and runs fine, but when you get in it again it does the same thing again. Please help.

  • Loose or worn belts? – SteveRacer Jan 16 at 2:59

I would check your alternator / serpentine belt.

Squealing is most often an issue of a loose / worn belt that's not making enough contact to travel with the pulley it's attached to, resulting in the pulley that's turning it 'slipping' with the belt not moving... resulting in the squealing sound you're hearing.

The bit about it being intermittent - This is a factor of the amount of load being placed on your alternator and how loose the belt is.

It may not be extremely loose; just enough to slip when you're starting and cause what I'm imagining is a sub-par charging scenairo w/ your battery... if it's becoming difficult to start, then your battery may not be charged all the way while you're driving (common if belt is slipping).

Check your battery voltage the next few times you try to start your car - before cranking the engine, that is - and see if it's low. Fully charged battery should read 12.7v-12.8v.

If it's sitting at like 12.3 or below I'd get it checked out to ensure it's charging properly.... either way you should investigate replacing the serpentine belt with a new one as a potential solution. Could also adjust tension on belt, but if it's due to age you should definitely replace it.

This is something you should be able to do yourself if you choose, and the belt itself - the only part you'll need - is usually around $10-20 at your local parts store.

Another potential issue is if your alternator is seizing up... if the pulley for the alternator is not turning, but the belt is moving past it, it would also cause this squealing noise and would better explain the issues starting the car.

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