Q: I have a 2006 Kia Optima with 64,000 miles and it sits outside 24/7. When it's wet, the car makes a screechy noise in the morning as I leave for work. It lessens as I accelerate and then when slowing down I can hear the noise. After driving steadily, the noise goes away. One mechanic did not know the cause and another suggested it was caused by moisture. Also, my passenger and driver side windows have film on them that is becoming distorted and as a result, I need to open the windows to see clearly for traffic. Do you have any suggestions for a remedy?
A: What are some of the common causes of "screeching" noises from a "wet" automobile? If the noise begins as soon as the engine starts and before the car is in motion, the most likely source is one of the accessory drive belts on the front of the engine. You didn't mention whether your Kia has the 2.4-liter four-cylinder or the 2.7-liter V-6 engine. The four-cylinder has one belt for the water pump and alternator and another for the power steering and air conditioning. The V-6 has a single serpentine belt to drive all the accessories. Both engines also have a tensioner to maintain proper belt tension. With moisture on a drive belt, coupled with the additional load from the alternator as it increases electrical output to recharge the battery after a cold start, the screech may be generated by the belt slipping. Interestingly, drive belts are engineered to actually self-tighten a bit as they heat up from slippage. Checking for proper belt tension and/or noise from the tensioner or one of the accessory drives might pinpoint the source.
If the screeching does not occur until the vehicle is moving, it's likely coming from the brake system. Some brake rotors are very prone to developing light surface rust from being parked in high-moisture environments. Typical symptoms are a very light grinding sound as the vehicle begins moving, then an increase in this sound when the brakes are first applied. After several brake applications have cleaned off the light rust, the noise disappears. This type of noise is inconsequential.
I also found a bulletin in my ALLDATA database indicating that the use of an incorrect aftermarket oil filter can cause engine "whistling" noises.
Whether the "film" on the windows is add-on tinting or some type of debris, a fresh single-edge razor blade followed by a thorough cleaning with an automotive glass cleaner should remove it.
Q: I have a 2015 Mazda CX-5. I brought it in for its 30,000-mile check. I was very surprised when they told me it needed a transmission flush due to the fluid being dark in color. Is something wrong with the transmission that it would need a flush with such low mileage? It seems Mazda does not have specific mileage guidelines for having the transmission flushed. Your thoughts?
A: Actually, Mazda has very specific guidelines on transmission service — it is not recommended! Mazda factory maintenance schedules for both "normal" and "severe" driving do not list any transmission services. Mazda service literature states that "transmission fluid flushing should only be performed when instructed by Workshop Manual or any other Mazda publication."
Motoring note: From Fred Johnson, "In a recent column a gentleman had a 289 Ford that had movement on the crankshaft of .333 inch. That is virtually not possible. Have him tighten the harmonic balancer bolt. I think the pulley is moving but not the crankshaft. That is why he is not seeing any metal filings (in the oil), either, hopefully."
Brand: While the Ford owner specifically stated that the movement was from the crankshaft, your suggestion is very well received. One of the greatest benefits from my column is the "clearinghouse" of shared automotive information that benefits all of us. Thank you.
Paul Brand is the author of "How to Repair Your Car" and "How to Repair Your Truck and SUV," published by Motorbooks.