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  #1  
Old 15th May 2011
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Default Whirring noise

Okay, I hate putting up this thread but I have done some searching and investigation and now I need to ask for some advice.

Firstly, let me say, I have successfully performed some tutorials on here and feel confident doing stuff on my car, but have no mechanical experience.

Right, now what the problem is, is that there is a very loud whirring noise coming from the engine. It's so loud that you hear it clearly in the cabin with the windows up.

I've had passing mechanic comments that it's the serpentine belt or the alternator, but I haven't had anyone actually inspect it.

The noise does seems to come from around that area, and it could even be one or more of the pulleys. Up close, there's also a definite clicking sound.

I've tried Belt Dressing on the serpentine belt and it made no noticable difference. I also haven't oticed any problems with power or performance,although I have a very good battery.

Any thoughts or suggestions?
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  #2  
Old 15th May 2011
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Try taken off the belt and spinning the pulleys. Make sure there not lose or spining to fast. But its most likely the middle idler pulley
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  #3  
Old 15th May 2011
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I thought the 9-3 did away with the middle idler pulley.
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  #4  
Old 16th May 2011
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Hey guys, I don't wanna sound like a dick, but I'm thinking that taking off the belt may be a bit of a job.

Does anyone have any hints on ways I could narrow it down a little. Another forum member here suggested some Belt Dressing. Great idea - easy to do, narrows down some possibilities. Unfortunately it didn't change anything.

So, I worried that if I take the belt off and the belt is no good. i have to wait a few days to get a new one. Or, worse still, if the belt is fine an it's the alternator, I have to wait even longer with a bigger expense. Meanwhile, I have to park the car on the road and I'm worried that something might happen to it.

It also means that can't move the car, so I would have to do the work on the road which is 5 minutes walk from where my tools are.

Are there any noises or tests or anything I could do? If not, I may have to do the above, but if I can avoid it....
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  #5  
Old 16th May 2011
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Allright try this one (this is old school)
Get a long steel rod (maybe even a long socket extension bar or a couple joined together)
Now don't laugh but this steel rod will be like a stethoscope
Put one end of the rod on one of the idler pulleys holding nut and the other end to your ear (with the motor going)
You will hear the differance from pulley to pulley if one of the bearings is buggered
sounds crazy but try it
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  #6  
Old 16th May 2011
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Oh, great. i tried that and now I have a steel bar through my head...


Naw, just kidding. I'll give it a go (carefully) and post the results. There's definately a ticking sound coming from somewhere, but I haven't listened closely enough to know where.
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  #7  
Old 16th May 2011
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Goodluck with the bar.

If you need help working on it let me know!
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  #8  
Old 16th May 2011
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The pointy end always goes towards the engine... Ron
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Old 16th May 2011
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Ticking or whirring? Does the noise increase with revs or remain constant. Bogans advice is good.

Cheers M.
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  #10  
Old 17th May 2011
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stupid question:
When you tried the belt dressing did you do the side with the ridges or the flat side
A ticking noise to me would be the belt, a wirring noise is a bearing(at a guess)
Give it a good squirt with that dressing ridges side
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Last edited by bogan; 17th May 2011 at 07:06 AM.
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  #11  
Old 17th May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SleeperSaab View Post
Hey guys, I don't wanna sound like a dick, but I'm thinking that taking off the belt may be a bit of a job.

Does anyone have any hints on ways I could narrow it down a little. Another forum member here suggested some Belt Dressing. Great idea - easy to do, narrows down some possibilities. Unfortunately it didn't change anything.

So, I worried that if I take the belt off and the belt is no good. i have to wait a few days to get a new one. Or, worse still, if the belt is fine an it's the alternator, I have to wait even longer with a bigger expense. Meanwhile, I have to park the car on the road and I'm worried that something might happen to it.

It also means that can't move the car, so I would have to do the work on the road which is 5 minutes walk from where my tools are.

Are there any noises or tests or anything I could do? If not, I may have to do the above, but if I can avoid it....
The "belt dressing" or water being used would expose a "dieing" belt. If the water does nothing, then suspect a bearing. To test remove the belt, or have it removed, its not that difficult..
DIY involves some mental and physical sweat and strain.
And, Bogan has a good point.
Is it "dieing" or "dying" ?
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Last edited by earthworm; 17th May 2011 at 08:41 AM.
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  #12  
Old 18th May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by '97 Saab SE Turbo View Post
The pointy end always goes towards the engine... Ron
Love it. That's gold, Gerry. Great advice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by musky View Post
Ticking or whirring? Does the noise increase with revs or remain constant. Bogans advice is good.
Cheers M.
Ticking and whirring and the noise increases in "frequency" or maybe tone with revs... not necessarily getting louder.

Quote:
Originally Posted by bogan View Post
stupid question:
When you tried the belt dressing did you do the side with the ridges or the flat side
A ticking noise to me would be the belt, a wirring noise is a bearing(at a guess)
Give it a good squirt with that dressing ridges side
I put the dressing on both sides (I didn't see the point in doing the outer side, but thought it wouldn't hurt). I didn't get too gungho, the instruction said not to drown it, but to do it while the engine was running.

Not wanting to have a repeat of the bar through my head, I didn't get too close to the belt with the spray can, but gave it a damn good spray.


Look, overall, it seems that the belt and or pulleys are the culprits. That being the case, I might just look into the cost of all pulleys and a new belt and replace them all.

From memory, we're talking about removing the air box, and just getting into the side of the block from there to remove all the pulleys? I don't need to pull the engine out or anything, do I?
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  #13  
Old 18th May 2011
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If by "all the pulleys" you are including the alternator, a/c, water pump and power steering pulleys, those all come with the individual units. What's left is the idler pulley(s). That's why someone recommended removing the serpentine belt and spinning all of the pulleys to determine if one or more of the units being driven by the serpentine belt were failing.

FWIW, the newer 9-3s apparently have a one-way bearing on the alternator which can fail. The intention is to let the alternator "free-wheel" when the engine slows down... Ron
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Old 18th May 2011
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Unless the alternator driveshaft is two pieces, split at the bearing, that really couldn't be the case.....

One of my motorcycles has an alternator clutch - the designer was afraid the engine would rev up and down too fast and sling the alternator apart, so he put in a slip joint between the jackshaft and the alternator.
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Old 18th May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by busaboy View Post
Unless the alternator driveshaft is two pieces, split at the bearing, that really couldn't be the case.....

One of my motorcycles has an alternator clutch - the designer was afraid the engine would rev up and down too fast and sling the alternator apart, so he put in a slip joint between the jackshaft and the alternator.
This is what I was talking about in the new cars. The alternator free-wheels when the engine slows down. It's just another thing in the new cars that is prone to fail and cost even more to repair than it should... Ron

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Old 19th May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SleeperSaab View Post

From memory, we're talking about removing the air box, and just getting into the side of the block from there to remove all the pulleys? I don't need to pull the engine out or anything, do I?
Yes the engine and left rear mudflap need to be removed
When you remove the airbox you will have pretty good access to everything
When you have a chance remove the air box. loosen the alt and remove the belt.inspect the belt,and order a newy
while the belt is off give everything a spin by hand.You should feel one of them a bit grindy when you spin it. order new bearing with belt. give the grindy bearing a spray with WD 40 (for good luck)This should get you threw till your new parts arrive. put it back together with the old dodgy parts and cross your fingers tiil the new stuff arrives
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  #17  
Old 19th May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by '97 Saab SE Turbo View Post
This is what I was talking about in the new cars. The alternator free-wheels when the engine slows down. It's just another thing in the new cars that is prone to fail and cost even more to repair than it should... Ron

Unfortunately, there is no "6" on the diagram, so I can't really tell where this freewheel is, but I understand what you mean, now.
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  #18  
Old 19th May 2011
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It isnt difficult to remove the belt, there is a removable shield under the wheel arch to allow for manuvering around the bottom pulley, and if you are replacing the belt anyway just cut it off - that what I did...
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  #19  
Old 21st May 2011
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Okay, quick update.

Yesterday I changed the oil in the car and while waiting for it to drain, I pulled the air box out and had a good look.

So there seems to be three theories on the problem...

1) Alternator - the whirring noise gets louder when you give it revs, go I'm thinking that it probably isn't the alternator itself.

2) Belt - without taking it off to inspect, from what I could see the belt seemed to be in pretty good condition. Less likely it's the belt, but not ruled out.

3) Pulley - it seems likely to me that it's probably a bearing on a pulley. I sprayed heaps of WD40 and belt dressing and the noise went away for about 30 seconds, but then came back.

So, next I'm going to loosen the belt by taking it off at the top and then check all of the pulleys. Then I'll have a better idea if it is a pulley, but it seems like that most likely is the problem.

My brother in law was helping me with the oil change/inspection and we started a couple of hours before dark. We stopped before taking the belt off, so I'll do that soon (maybe today) and see which pulley it is. Then I can order the part and replace.

Thanks for the help, guys, I'll let you know how it goes.
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  #20  
Old 21st May 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SleeperSaab View Post

3) Pulley - it seems likely to me that it's probably a bearing on a pulley. I sprayed heaps of WD40 and belt dressing and the noise went away for about 30 seconds, but then came back.
I'd say there's your culprit
The bearing has had a "Chernobyl" moment
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