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E36 (1991 - 1999)
The E36 chassis 3-Series BMW was a huge hit among driving enthusiasts from the first moment the car hit the pavement. The E36 won numerous awards over the years it was produced and is still a favorite of many BMW enthusiasts to this day! -- View the E36 Wiki

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  #1  
Old 02-27-2013, 09:52 PM
dcloes dcloes is offline
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cold start squealing

Lasts for about 3 minutes, then stops completely.

Replaced the tensioner/idler pulley with no change.

I really can't tell what it is that's making the noise, but it seems to be something on the drivers side.

Anyone have tips to try and isolate the noise?
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  #2  
Old 02-27-2013, 09:57 PM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is online now
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Did you also replace the belts? Have you checked your power steering reservoir?
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  #3  
Old 02-28-2013, 05:59 PM
dcloes dcloes is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ZeGerman View Post
Did you also replace the belts? Have you checked your power steering reservoir?
No squealing from turning...It's when the tires are straight ahead.

I just replaced both hoses from the reservoir because it was....hmmm...how do I describe this best. The bottom of the engine on the drivers side....it is COVERED in leakage from the power steering reservoir for 4+ years. And with that, I did a power steering system flush with ATF.


I replaced the belts about 6 months ago and that was my next step - to replace the serpentine belt. I've read that power steering fluid can foul the belt and cause squealing.

I released the belt tension then got under the car and scrubbed the power steering pulley with Simple Green and a toothbrush for a good 20 minutes. After mounting the belt, I soaked a scrubber sponge with brake cleaner and pressed it against the belt as it circled for a few minutes.

I'm going to take the belt off completely and scrub everything in the route tonight and the belt and see if that makes a difference.

If not, I'll start with a new serpentine belt and then move forward.
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Old 02-28-2013, 06:32 PM
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ZeGerman ZeGerman is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dcloes View Post
No squealing from turning...It's when the tires are straight ahead.
Okay, but just know that if the reservoir is low, it may make funky noises at startup simply because it hasn't got enough fluid in it. Actually turning the wheel may not even be a factor. Double check the fluid level if you haven't done so recently.
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Last edited by ZeGerman; 02-28-2013 at 06:39 PM.
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  #5  
Old 02-28-2013, 08:33 PM
dcloes dcloes is offline
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Originally Posted by ZeGerman View Post
Okay, but just know that if the reservoir is low, it may make funky noises at startup simply because it hasn't got enough fluid in it. Actually turning the wheel may not even be a factor. Double check the fluid level if you haven't done so recently.
I double checked and it's closer to the Max than Min line.

In the grooves on the alternator pulley, it some caked on dried PS fluid. Spent time cleaning that and also the surface of the tensioner/idler pulley.

So here's hoping that tomorrow am problem will be solved.

The underside of the belt looks to be in great condition still.

I was a bit surprised how warm the alternator pulley was as I was cleaning it. I had only run the engine for a few minutes, if that.
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  #6  
Old 03-01-2013, 03:43 AM
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dc_wright dc_wright is offline
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Sounds like you've got some belt slippage when you first start until friction warms the belt. If your main serpentine belt has been getting exposed to ATF that will degrade the undersurface of the belt and surface harden it which could make it prone to slippage. I'd try replacing the serpentine belt and see if that fixes the squeal.
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Old 03-01-2013, 10:56 AM
dcloes dcloes is offline
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Originally Posted by dc_wright View Post
Sounds like you've got some belt slippage when you first start until friction warms the belt. If your main serpentine belt has been getting exposed to ATF that will degrade the undersurface of the belt and surface harden it which could make it prone to slippage. I'd try replacing the serpentine belt and see if that fixes the squeal.
I'm pretty sure that's the issue. The PS fluid is everywhere and caked in places. The fact there was some caked in the grooves of the alternator pulley that I had to scrape out with a tiny flathead means the bottom of that belt was definitely affected.

Thanks all for the input.
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Old 03-04-2013, 06:34 AM
dcloes dcloes is offline
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After removing both belts and cleaning the groves of each pulley in the serpentine route with a toothbrush and soapy water, I replaced the serpentine belt and the noise is gone.

Old belt was only a year old, so maybe 15,000 miles, so didn't think it likely. But I guess the constant exposure to the PS gunk did it in.

So happy to have this solved.
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Old 03-04-2013, 08:57 AM
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dc_wright dc_wright is offline
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Good deal! Unlike the old v-belts that had a lot of grip due to the v-pulleys (and a lot of drag), the serpentine belts rely mostly on surface friction so it doesn't take much friction reduction to make them complain. The v-rib serpentine belts have more surface area because of the v's but there's not much wedge effect like with a true v-belt.
Every time I've washed down my engine I've gotten a start up squeal just from a little bit of remaining water.
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