Car Making Fairly High Pitched Noise

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I thought I would see if any of you can figure out what is wrong with my 1988 Honda Civic. The car sometimes makes a fairly high pitched noise while I am driving it. The noise seems to be coming from the front of the car and it is louder from the outside of the car than from the inside (I know this because the noise is much louder when the windows are down than when they are up). The noise quite loud from the outside -- to the point that it gets a lot of attention from pedestrians.

The noise occurs about 1 out of every 2 times that I drive my car. The noise only occurs when the car is in motion. Once the noise starts, it will not stop until I brake the car (I am not sure if the noise stops because I am braking or because the car is slowing down). As the car slows down, the tone of the noise changes (it becomes lower pitched). The noise stops completely when the car reaches a very slow speed. The noise sometimes occurs several times during a single trip. It is a steady, consistent noise (the tone and volume of the noise remains the same, except when I break). It seems to be occurring more and more frequently. It does not seem to be triggered by anything. There are no other problems with my car that I am aware of.

About 3 months ago, a mechanic at my local Honda dealer said that the noise was caused by worn down brake rotor splash shields. The mechanic replaced the splash shields, and the noise seemed to go away for a few months. However, the problem is now back. I took the car back to Honda, but Honda claims that the car seems fine and that they are not hearing the noise when they test drive the car (this is not surprising, since the noise does not always occur).

I have taken the car to other mechanics but the mechanics are not normally prepared to drive the car for long enough for the noise to occur. I have been told that the engine belts are fine and that the brakes look fine.

Any idea what is causing the problem? Your help is greatly appreciated.

posted by  JNN3

Belt most likely.

posted by  stamar

i would have to agree with the belts hypothesis, though they tend to make more of a really loud screeching sound. i would say the alternator too since it makes a high pitch squeal when its getting worn out too, but thats not so likely apparently. when my alternator went bad it would only squeal while the car was cold, not when warm. either a belt is worn out, or a belt is set too tight, or not tight enough.

posted by  Inygknok

If you are certain it is not a belt... its a belt driven accessory. Such as possibly the water pump. Throw some of that water pump lube stuff in there. Although... no actually thats bad it puts oil in ur cooling system. But its something to try to help diagnose. I remember doing this once with a squealing water pump. Then change the antifreeze. Maybe its got some rust particles in it.

Tighten the belts all up. Its not the condition its the tightness. You can even get something in a can called belt dressing... although between you and me its just watered down rubber cement.

posted by  stamar

Thanks for your help. Hopefully I will figure it out.

posted by  JNN3

I think I have solved the problem: I rotated the front-right tire to the back left of the car. Now, the noise is coming from the back-left instead of the front-right. So, it must be the tire that is causing the noise.

I am not sure why the noise only occurs occasionally. Perhaps it depends on how the weight in the car is distributed on the tire.

I contacted the Honda dealership to request a refund, since they misdiagnosed my problem. They have agreed to provide a refund, but only if I let them remove the front brake rotor splash shields from the car. This seems a bit harsh when considering that the splash shields cost almost nothing (the main cost was for the labour). Also, I no longer have the splash shields that they removed from my car, so I would be left with less than what I had when I first brought my car for repair. Are splash shields important to have? What do they do?

posted by  JNN3

It turns out that I was wrong about the wheel; it did not cause the noise.

Here is some new information about the noise that might help someone figure out what is causing the noise:

- Around the same time that I rotated the tires, the noise changed. It went from being fairly high-pitched and loud to being muffled and not so loud. The noise seems particularly muffled and quiet when I am driving at high speeds. Furthermore, the noise now behaves slightly differently. For example, in the past, the noise did not stop occurring until I slowed the car down. However, now the noise usually stops after a short period of time even if I do not slow the car down. It is possible that this is a different noise altogether, but I do not think so. Just like before, the noise always stops occurring when I slow down the car.

I am not sure why the noise changed. However, it is worth noting that just before the noise changed, I drove on the highway while the noise was occurring continuously for about 40 minutes (I have never let the noise occur continuously for so long). After 40 minutes, the noise died out on its own. This was the first time that I am aware of that the noise has died out on its own (until this time, it only died out when I slowed down the car). After this incident, the noise did not occur for a couple of weeks. Then, when it finally did occur, it was muffled and quieter (as explained above).

- I recently noticed that my tail pipe was vibrating and that it was starting to fall off. I took the car in for repair and I was told that I not only needed a new tail pipe, but I also needed a new muffler. After I got the new muffler and tailpipe, the noise changed again. It is now once again high pitched and it is louder again (although not as loud as it was when it first started to occur). Since the noise changed right after I got the new muffler, I assume that this could be a clue as to what might be causing the noise.

- A friend of mine who is an amateur mechanic heard the noise when we were driving. This was back when the noise was high pitched and loud. He told me that the noise was definitely not being caused by the belts. He said that noises caused by belts are even louder than the noise that my car was making. He said that the noise was unlike anything that he had heard before.

- If the noise is occurring, it will continue to occur even when I shift the car into neutral and even when I break, as long as the car does not slow down to about 20 km/h.

- The noise is now occurring far more frequently than it used to occur.

- I mentioned in one of my messages that the noise was coming from the front right side of the car. However, I am not so sure anymore. My girlfriend had been insisting that it was coming from the front-right of the car, but that may be just because she sits in the front-right of the car and often keeps the front-right window open. I find it very hard to pinpoint where it is coming from. When I am sitting on the right side of the car, it seems like it is coming from the right side but when I am sitting on the left side, it is not so clear. I am still pretty sure that it is coming from somewhere in the front of the car. Since the noise only occurs when the car is moving, I cannot get out of the car and move around to figure out where it is coming from. One thing that is certain is that the noise is definitely louder on the outside of the car then on the inside.

Sorry for leaving such a long message. However, it is tough for me to determine what information is relevant and what isn’t. I am hoping that something I have written might provide a clue as to what is causing the noise. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

posted by  JNN3

This really needs to be said and being as I'm me, I'll say it. You've had this problem for at least three months now. You apparently still haven't figured it out or else you wouldn't still be posting about it. Has it occured to you that maybe, just maybe, you should have a professional look at it? Did it ever occur to you that by continuing to drive the car you might be making a small inexpensive problem into a large expensive one?

Where do these people come from? :banghead:

posted by  vwhobo

You might want to read the first message in this thread more carefully before you make such bold comments. As I explained in my earlier message, I have taken the car to numerous mechanics. Here is an excerpt from my first message:

"About 3 months ago, a mechanic at my local Honda dealer said that the noise was caused by worn down brake rotor splash shields ... I have taken the car to other mechanics but the mechanics are not normally prepared to drive the car for long enough for the noise to occur."

Even if you missed the part in my previous message where I talked about taking the car to mechanics, why would you just assume that I have not taken the car to a mechanic??

I have been hoping that someone on this site might think of something that the mechanics that I have visited did not think of. Am I wasting my time?

If anyone has any *helpful* suggestions regarding the problem with my car, this would be appreciated.

posted by  JNN3

More correctly it's a rather bold statement to assume that I haven't read the entire thread. The only information we have to go on is that you took the car to Honda and "other mechanics" THREE MONTHS AGO. Your most recent dissertation says nothing about having a professional look at within the last three months. Using your line of faulty logic, because you didn't specify that you didn't have someone else look at it, I should assume that you did. That is except your friend the "amatuer mechanic" and of course your girlfriend who I'm sure are both highly qualified and experienced at locating noises on Hondas.

Online I can't personally identify the noise that you're looking for but... I'm quite sure we've found the whine behind the steering wheel.

posted by  vwhobo

I never said that you should assume that I have seen a mechanic. Rather, I said that you should not assume that I haven't seen a mechanic. In other words, I am saying that you should not assume anything (either way) unless there are grounds for making such an assumption. This is not faulty logic.

Do you expect every person who posts on this forum to list all of the instances in which they visited a mechanic – even if they have visited countless mechanics? Instead of continuing to assume that I am an idiot, you could have *asked* me if I took the car to a mechanic recently. Or, you could have suggested that I take the car to a mechanic *if* I haven't already.

In the first message that I posted yesterday, I wrote that I recently took the car in for repair. This is a pretty good indication that I may have seen a mechanic far more recently than three months ago. While the primary reason that I took the car in for repair was because the tail pipe was falling off, I ask all mechanics that I visit to try to figure out what is causing the noise. So, contrary to your groundless assumption, I have recently seen a mechanic regarding the problem.

When considering the evidence, I think it was completely fair for me to “assume” that you did not read my first message; what you wrote directly conflicted with what I wrote in my first message. You did not say that I should try taking my car into *other* mechanics. Rather, you strongly implied that I have never taken my car to a mechanic. It makes no sense that you would have wrote such a message if you had first read the entire thread. Therefore, while your assumption that I did not take my car into a mechanic is groundless, my assumption is well founded.

If you think I am a whiner because I am attacking a post in which you imply that I am an idiot and in which you write “Where do these people come from”, then so be it. What should I have done – just ignored the fact that you are implying that I am an idiot?

posted by  JNN3

Since it seems so very important to you, let me get this first part out of the way right now. I was not implying that you are an idiot, YOU ARE AN IDIOT. Feel better now?

1. According to your faulty logic we are to assume that because you took your car to have the exhaust worked on you also had the individual look for your noise. You didn't say he did, but you expect us to assume he did. You expect people to know what it is you did without telling them. You are expecting people to make assumptions and then telling them not to. You expect people to assume the positive but wait to be told the negative. This is only one reason you are an idiot.

2. Yes, if you want help you have to convey everything that has been done to rectify the situation. I don't have a crystal ball and I certainly don't want to make any assumptions. Furthermore if you were in fact capable of comprehending simple sentences you would see that in my very first response to this thread I stated "you should have a professional look at it". Did you think I meant a prostitute or a preacher?

3. Yes, it's a pretty good indication that you had someone work on the exhaust. You didn't say anything about checking out the noise. To come to that conclusion we would have to assume. Do you see a pattern here?

4. So... it's okay for you to assume and then when you are proven wrong to justify your assumption. And by the way Zippy, I used the word professional, not mechanic. If you're going to try tap dancing at least pay attention. The good old double standard, just one more reason that you are an idiot.

5. Finally we agree on something. You are a whiner. And an idiot. Now that we have that cleared up how about freeing up some bandwidth for someone worthwhile. Have a nice day... or go screw yourself, whichever makes you happier. After all we wouldn't want to assume anything, would we? :wink2:

posted by  vwhobo

Instead of addressing my main points, you are determined to paint me as a hypocrite. In doing so, you are twisting my words in ridiculous ways.

- I never said that you should not make assumptions. I said that you should not make *groundless* assumptions. You seem to be having a lot of difficulty grasping this distinction. It is impossible to function in this world without making assumptions. However, some assumptions are reasonable to make and others are ridiculous.

- The only reason that I raised the point about taking the car to the mechanic to have the tail pipe repaired is because you wrote the following: “Your most recent dissertation says nothing about having a professional look at within the last three months.” Of course, the fact that I took my car to a mechanic to have the tail pipe repaired does not mean that I took the car to a mechanic to have the noise inspected. However, it is an indication that there is a good possibility that I took the car to a mechanic to have the noise inspected. After all, any reasonable person whose car is making strange noises would ask the mechanic to inspect the noise in this situation. I am not saying that you should have assumed that I had a mechanic inspect the noise. However, *if* you were going to make an assumption (as you did), wouldn’t it have made sense to base your assumption on what little evidence existed.

- It would be ridiculous for me to have listed all of the mechanics that I have visited in my attempt to solve the problem with the noise. I have taken this car to so many mechanics that I have lost count. How does it help you to know that I have visited 10 mechanics as opposed to 5? Am I missing something? Isn’t it enough that I mentioned in my first message that I had taken the car to mechanics?

- It is *reasonable* to assume that you meant ‘mechanic’ when you used the word “professional” (when considering the context in which you used the word “professional”). Of course this is an *assumption*, but it is not a groundless assumption. If you intended for “professional” to mean anything other than mechanic, you should have been far more specific.

The flaws in your arguments are so self-evident that it is a waist of time to pick them apart any further. The more you try to argue, the deeper a hole you dig yourself into.

I don’t know why you feel the need to be such a dick. I came on the website to get help; not to get in a fight.

posted by  JNN3

HEY HEY HEY calm down... please

posted by  mazda6man

no argue, just help and or questions leading to hopeful resolution...

posted by  mazda6man

Okay Twinkie, I'll make this real simple and use small words so it's easier for you to understand. Your whole problem here is caused by the fact that you expect people to assume to know what you're talking about, but only if they assume correctly. We're just supposed to magically know what it is you're talking about. For all I know you could be my ex-wife (or about a zillion other ex-wives). You sound just like her.

As for being a reasonable person, in my book no reasonable person would drive a car for at least three months with an unidentified and unrepaired noise. That is something only an idiot would do, so you see you do fit the profile. If you want help your first step should be to read and heed this; It's a sticky for good reason.

P.S. The only flaw in my argument is the person I'm having it with. As we all know you can't have a battle of wits with an unarmed person such as yourself. Have a wonderful day... or not.

posted by  vwhobo

Well just to add a little on-topic information here, a couple of things to check are

A. Your front brake pads for excessive wear. Disc brake pads have wear clips attached to them which come into contact with the brake rotor when the pad wears out to a certain point. This metal-on-metal contact generates a high pitched scratching noise which eventually evolves into a squeal if not looked after.
B. Your front wheel bearings, for the same reason. If the bearing grease has dried up then the bearings will be running dry and a lot of metal on metal contact will occur.
C. Possibly your CV driveshafts/joints/boots. My own car (Not a Honda, however) had a dried up CV joint which made a light squealing noise during normal operation. Shortly after replacing both shafts and joints I noticed the noise had ceased.

That said, with regard to this pointless argument, I do have a few things to say about it. One of those, vwhobo, is as JNN3 pointed out, rather than opening your communication with him by posting messages that are absolutely dripping with disdain, you could simply have asked him if he had recently had his Honda inspected by a "professional" (note my careful choice of words here, folks) regarding the ongoing problem. Instead you chose to load your response with as much attitude as you could fit into 6 lines, a standing policy which, I have noticed, seems to be very consistent with the longer-running members of this forum. A careful rewording of your query, say to "Have you had your car looked at recently by a professional?" would have resulted in either a simple "yes" or "no" depending on the situation on JNN3's end.

Has it occurred to you, or any of the other "senior" members of this forum, that since this forum supposedly exists to offer assistance and advice to those who need it, perhaps you should take a more welcoming, helpful attitude towards the newcomers? This would surely result in a far more pleasant experience for all, and would definitely make great strides towards "freeing up some bandwidth" for far more useful discussions. Surely you must realize that there are people out there who don't have the same "mastery" of automotive repair that you and some of the other members of this board do, and I can only hope that along with this realization you also are aware that because of their inexperience they also may not know when a potential problem with their vehicles could be serious. Not everyone knows as "much" as you and the others do. Consider this when a new person comes to these forums for your help. Try helping them, instead of immediately scorning them for their lack of pre-existing knowledge.

posted by  KNTRDR

Oh, okay, now I've seen the light... or more realistically you didn't bother to read any of his posts. He's been driving with this condition for over three months. We now know that the car has been worked on and inspected numerous times and you give him the "tip" to check his brake pads, wheel bearings and CV's. Brilliant! I'm sure none of the individuals who looked at the car previously thought of that. Stupid, stupid grease monkeys.

Where were you three months ago, or three days ago, to ask clarifying questions, make required assumptions and help him with his dilemma? Why do you think it's too much to EXPECT him to do his level best to give us all the pertinent infromation THE FIRST TIME? There is a sticky thread that specifically explains how to approach the "I need help" threads that; A) he either didn't read prior to posting or B) he chose to ignore the helpful and friendly instructions. Either way the monkey is on his back to provide ALL OF THE INFORMATION.

Finally, can you please be so kind as to show me where the mission statement of this forum says it "exists to offer assistance and advice to those who need it". Yeah, that's what I thought. What it actually says directly below the Car Forums logo on the home page is "Welcome to Car Forums, where enthusiasts meet & discuss sports cars, exotic cars, luxury cars, classic cars, concept cars, import cars, muscle cars and buy & sell vehicles ...". That's it, that's all. If you read anything else into it that's your problem.

BTW, if you honestly think I don't provide a "welcoming, helpful attitude towards the newcomers", you haven't spent much time READING these forums. I'll bet if you did you'd see about 1500-2000 helpful posts with my name on them. Just remember as a newb it's their responsibility to start with the best foot forward. How many helpful, or even worthwhile posts do you have?

posted by  vwhobo

Thanks for your message KNTRDR. I have been told that my break pads are fine. I will arrange to have someone check the front wheel bearings, etc.

I took the car to another “professional” on Friday (before I read KNTRDR’s message). The car made the noise all the way to the “professional’s” garage. However, when the “professional" drove the car, it did not make the noise. The “professional” told me that he could not find any problems with the car that would cause a noise. He said that my car is in excellent shape. He did note that the car has a broken front right spring and that the engine mount isn’t in good shape – but he said that these problems would not cause a noise to occur.

On a separate note, I have noticed that the noise now mainly occurs at speeds of about 30-40mph. When I drive at higher speeds, the noise will occasionally occur for a split second (it is often muffled when it occurs), but it does not occur for as long as it occurs when I drive at 30-40 mph. This is a new development. The noise used to occur at high speeds.

As for vwhobo: While I completely disagree with everything that you have written and I do not appreciate the condescending tone of your messages, I would like to drop this stupid debate.

posted by  JNN3

Good for you. This is America and you are perfectly within your rights to be wrong and remain ignorant.

BTW, a bad wheel bearing won't display the symptoms you are complaining of nor will CV's. I know that doesn't jive with the info supplied by your new friend but he also has the right to be wrong and remain ignorant. A wheel bearing going bad may come close to the sound but is easily and cosistently repeatable, normally while turning away from the offending bearing especially under light to moderate braking.

posted by  vwhobo

Is it possible that the noise is related to the power steering system?

Ever since I added power steering fluid to my car, the noise has stopped occurring. I added the power steering fluid about two weeks ago. Before I added this fluid, the noise was occurring very regularly.

The power steering fluid level was only a little bit low when I added the fluid. It was not below the lower line (the fill line), but it was getting close to this line.

I should note that the noise was not affected by movements of the steering wheel or by the rpm of the engine (as far as I can tell). However, it was affected by the speed that the car was travelling.

Is the fact that the noise stopped just after I added power steering fluid just a coincidence?

posted by  JNN3

Try the belt also check your brakes the calipers could be froze.

posted by  barretire

My Jetta not all the time makes this high pitched whing or humming noise from the front of the car only when I step on the gas when I release from the pedal it gets very quiet but is still there. It only happens maybe twice a week it depends but once it starts it doesn't quit. Well anyway yesterday my water pump went out and some sensor Im a girl I dont know much so when I picked it up today from VW the noise was there and even louder in fact it seemed to continue even after I turned off the car. It has something to do with the water pump and that sensor trust me. We have the same exact problems and noises. By the way people come to this site to get help not criticized. If we all were as smart as you when it came to cars you wouldn't have a job so please try to be nice. To those of us who come to you for help. :mrgreen:

posted by  pstar1651

why do you post our flag. That flag means united we stand that we are all proud to be americans all the while your attitude says something different about the way you feel. My son is a Marine and he has just returned home from Iraq. Thank God and the one thing they treasure most is all of us. Short , tall, smart smarter. You are no better then someone who doesn't know about cars I'm sure he knows things you can't even begin to understand. Please do not fly that flag if you cannot love all americans bfor who they are and if they need your help give them as hand not your judgement of them. Hey maybe you hasve the wrong flag. Just kidding. Lets be friends

posted by  pstar1651

[QUOTE=pstar1651]why do you post our flag. That flag means united we stand that we are all proud to be americans all the while your attitude says something different about the way you feel. My son is a Marine and he has just returned home from Iraq. Thank God and the one thing they treasure most is all of us. Short , tall, smart smarter. You are no better then someone who doesn't know about cars I'm sure he knows things you can't even begin to understand. Please do not fly that flag if you cannot love all americans bfor who they are and if they need your help give them as hand not your judgement of them. Hey maybe you hasve the wrong flag. Just kidding. Lets be friends[/QUOTE

hmmm thats strange, if your son had not come back from IRAQ would you be speeking the same patriotic tune that you are now? just a question no one needs to get bent out of shape :ohcrap:

posted by  BanffAutoSpa_ap

Hey guys, just throwing my two cents in. It sounds like the same problem I had a couple years back with my 1998 chevy. I replaced alot of things on my car: radiator, power steering pump, water pump, AC pump, belt, alternator, brakes. None of it seemed to work. Then one day on my way to work, the sound became awful. It sounded like something was crushing metal. Turns out that it was my transmission. I had to have the whole thing rebuilt. Haven't heard the noise since.

jman0898   19 Oct 2012 14:08

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