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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
2005 Altima 3.5 SL 134k mi

HOW LONG:
this has been going on for a month and i cant figure out what the problem is exactly. The A/C compressor is one year old, the original one seized last year, i believe the belt is also one year old.

POSSIBLE CAUSE:
there was a bad accident about a month ago and i was stuck in standstill traffic for about 3 hours and i needed to get back to base, the only other route was taking this car off-roading on poorly maintained sand roads (AWD&4x4's were getting stuck) i was able to make it thru but in the process i ripped off my skidplate and accumulated 1/2"-1" of sand practically everywhere in my engine bay. i thought i did a good job of cleaning out every nook and cranny i could of sand. where could sand be stuck in the belt that could cause the squeak/squeal, can i get it out with a socket wrench?

SYMPTOMS
  • I will start the car- 1/5 times it will squeal immediately on startup- stops squeaking for 30sec to a minute- then starts chirping for a solid 30 seconds
  • the other 4/5 times it will be fine on start then start squealing for less than 15 seconds- then it will stop for about 30sec to a minute- then will either chirp or squeal for another 30 seconds
  • it will squeal if the AC is on and im accelerating.
  • the RPM's do noticeably dip when this happens, maybe 100rpm

I know i shouldnt have gone offroading but my COC told me to get back on base asap because i was already 1hr late to be secured for the weekend. it was a really bad situation, but i heard that the road didnt get re-opened for another 12-15 hours later, and it was the only paved road in-out from that direction.
 

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Belt is dead, the dirt eroded the crap out of the groove sides to kill all grip. As well much dirt likely still stuck in belt carcass to make it slip even more. You ain't going anywhere without a new belt and then go from there, the tensioner may be dead too from dirt getting in it, they are not weather sealed. The pulleys with that much dirt may even have impacted it in the grooves to build the groove depth shallower and then all pulleys will need 100% of the concreted dirt chipped out before they will properly grab the belt again. You can look hard at the pulley and not see that and then the belt makes noise forever. The concreted dirt will appear to be part of pulley and requires extreme force to remove it. BTDT.
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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Don't buy a cheap crap belt there either, that will only extend your troubles.
110% I've been through a half dozen belts on two Altimas and I can say without a doubt even quality new belts can squeak/squeal (my problem was on damp mornings and random other times). I am currently running a Continental Elite (don't get the Contitech...that eurotrash sucker squealed like a stuck pig in my setup). The Elite has been solid and silent since I put it in back in the spring...not a chirp...which was so, so nice after a miserable winter/early spring.

In defence of the Contitech, which seemed hardened compared to the new Elite (despite only being about 18m old), I had a passenger inner CV boot fail a few months earlier which slung grease everywhere, pretty much in the same plane as the belt (tensioner got covered). Despite multiple attempts with soap, detergents, and even stronger degreasers I just couldn't make it silent afterwards, no matter what...so maybe the rubber was contaminated, maybe there was still grease in the grooves...don't know. I do know I hit those pulleys with some brake cleaner before installing the new belt, just to be sure!

https://www.rockauto.com/en/moreinfo.php?pk=5405871&cc=1443140&jsn=411

Also, @amc49's is probably right about impacted crap in the pulley grooves and if so, it will be a PITA to clean up.
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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Also, i have replaced both idlers and the tensioner on my '09 VQ already and I just hit 100Kmi. When those bearings go (and I'm sure the sand might have helped them along) they start to wobble and that will definitely cause a squeak. So with the belt off, spin each by hand and check for smooth silent operation. There should also be some resistance...ie they should stop soon after and shouldn't continue to spin long after being spun, that's indicative of bearing wear, often accompanied by a tinny rattle.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Belt is dead, the dirt eroded the crap out of the groove sides to kill all grip. As well much dirt likely still stuck in belt carcass to make it slip even more. You ain't going anywhere without a new belt and then go from there, the tensioner may be dead too from dirt getting in it, they are not weather sealed. The pulleys with that much dirt may even have impacted it in the grooves to build the groove depth shallower and then all pulleys will need 100% of the concreted dirt chipped out before they will properly grab the belt again. You can look hard at the pulley and not see that and then the belt makes noise forever. The concreted dirt will appear to be part of pulley and requires extreme force to remove it.
Also, i have replaced both idlers and the tensioner on my '09 VQ already and I just hit 100Kmi. When those bearings go (and I'm sure the sand might have helped them along) they start to wobble and that will definitely cause a squeak. So with the belt off, spin each by hand and check for smooth silent operation. There should also be some resistance...ie they should stop soon after and shouldn't continue to spin long after being spun, that's indicative of bearing wear, often accompanied by a tinny rattle.
thanks so much, i dont have any time during the week to do this, so ill definitely do it this weekend when i change my oil. thanks for the tips!
What tools would i need to take the belt off/chip the dirt off the pully/idlers? flathead screwdriver, knife, socket wrench?

thanks for the help, this is my first car and im trying to keep it running for as long as possible... then ill swap the engine
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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Ok, so the Gen3 VQ's have a terrible tensioner system. You will want to start soaking it in penetrating oil now, and every day until do you the procedure (especially the 'well' at the top of the tensioning nut). Essentially the pulley is on a threaded J-shaped rod which is tightened by cranking down the nut from the top side of the engine (space is tight, deep sockets needed)..I think you even need a flex or wobble adapter if memory serves. A lot of people reef on the frozen nut and snap the tensioner shaft...you don't want to go there. What you're up against is this:

 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
You will want to start soaking it in penetrating oil now, and every day until do you the procedur
unfortunately i cant do this because i drive to work every day and i am not allowed to have oil/gas etc in the barracks. the best i can do is on friday/saturday go to the autoshop and brute force it off pretty much.
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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Maybe I don't understand...isn't your car is already full of oil and gas. Can't you just leave the can of WD40 in the car after your spray the nut...?

If this really is the case, then buy a spare part then before you start, so when you break it and cannot drive the car anymore, you can at least fix it and keep driving.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Maybe I don't understand...isn't your car is already full of oil and gas. Can't you just leave the can of WD40 in the car after your spray the nut...?

If this really is the case, then buy a spare part then before you start, so when you break it and cannot drive the car anymore, you can at least fix it and keep driving.
we arent allowed to have oil, gas, flammable stuff inside the barracks so i would have no place to safely store it while it soaked, but yes i can leave the materials in my car.

also, i assume this wouldnt throw some sort of OBDii code would it? just curious because i got a new OBDii reader recently
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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You shouldn't try to remove the tensioner until it's been soaked, in place, in the engine compartment, for a couple of days/drive cycles. So, there should be no issue, just popping the hood, a quick skoosh-skoosh, then throw the can back in the trunk. No need to take any of this inside anywhere.

No codes will be thrown by a squeaking belt.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
You shouldn't try to remove the tensioner until it's been soaked, in place, in the engine compartment, for a couple of days/drive cycles. So, there should be no issue, just popping the hood, a quick skoosh-skoosh, then throw the can back in the trunk. No need to take any of this inside anywhere.

No codes will be thrown by a squeaking belt.
i thought you meant completely taking it out while leaving it in a can soaked in oil XD
thanks for the clarification!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
UPDATE!!!
went to the auto shop on base and i changed the belt but the squeaking/squealing persisted so i got some help and the worker that is experienced with the A/C systems took a look at it and told me the belt, tension, and alignment were OK. He recommended to buy a bar of soap and rub it on the grooved side of the belt for about 10 seconds while it was running, and the belt stopped slipping immediately. his explanation of this was that it acted as a wax and allowed the belt to grip better (or something along those lines)
I will post a update in another couple of weeks if the squeal comes back. thanks for the help everyone!
 

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09 Altima 3.5SE 6MT Sedan
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Snake oil.

Pour a quart of warm water on the belt as its running. It'll be squeaking in no time shortly after. Or just wait for the next rain storm.
 

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He means the tech there simply lubed the belt up to slip quietly instead of making noise. Wax does NOT increase friction, it is made of oil which SLIPS easier. The water from rain will simply rinse it off and you are back to making belt noise again. Oldest trick in the book.
 
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