When starting the engine from cold on my Volvo 440 (1.8 LI, K reg) there is a loud squeal coming from the timing belt area. The noise goes away after a couple of minutes driving.

What could be the cause of this?

The timing belt was changed about 20,000 miles ago.

  • 4
    Your timing belt won't typically "slip" or squeal. It either breaks or jumps teeth, and the car usually won't run. Is there any chance your getting your alternator belt and your timing belt mixed up? I've also seen water pumps make some funny noises when they start to go bad. Make sure nothing is dripping onto your belts or pulleys and that all the pulleys spin freely.
    – user4546
    Mar 2, 2014 at 18:22

2 Answers 2


That is usually caused by a tired ancilliary belt (the one that drives the alternator etc) - as the rubber ages, it grips less well and slips more against the pulleys, especially when cold and damp. After a couple of minutes it dries out and warms up, and so stops slipping.

The timing belt itself is toothed, and so cannot slip (it would cause a catastrophic engine failure if it did), and if the tensioner was failing I'd expect the noise to be constant.

Replace the ancilliary belt (very cheap - the one for my car is £6 (~$10), I'd expect a Volvo one to be similar). If that doesn't fix it, it could be something more serious, but that seems unlikely to me.


Might be the power steering belt

  • It does't have power steering. It's definitely the timing belt.
    – Michael
    Mar 2, 2014 at 17:39

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