Dying fan clutch/water pump? Squeaking Noise! | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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Dying fan clutch/water pump? Squeaking Noise!


December 29, 2001
Reaction score
City, State
Pittsburgh, PA
Year, Model & Trim Level
'92 XLT
I was/am having problems with a fan belt-area squeaking on my 92 X. It is a rythmic squeaky chirping sound, fast paced, only at idle or near idle speeds. When I get on the gas up to 1800-2000 rpm it goes away. The fan belt is in ok shape (actually put an old one on as the "new" 6 month-old one was disintegrating). I just relaced the idler and tensioner pulleys, it actually sounds worse now.

Thought it might be the power steering pump as there was some in-out play on it's pulley, but after buying a rebuilt pump saw that the shaft on it had the same kind of play (no steering problems or dying pump groans from the original either) so I didn't change the pump. I turned all the other pulleys by hand and didnt find anything else suspect.

The sound seems to be coming right from the center of the radiator area, could this be a dying fan clutch or water pump? Please help, this is really getting me stressed! Thanks in advance!

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In my experience, fan clutches don't squeak, they just stop working properly and the fan "freewheels" or "windmills" too much. Could be the water pump, but check all the pulleys for proper alignment. If any are out of line, the belt may squeal and wear out prematurely.
Try squirting any suspect bearings (water, pump, alternator) with WD-40.


Did you torque the tensioner and idler pullies correctly?

Waterpumps will tend to wobble and leak when they fail.

Noise could be coming from alot of places :)
A doctors scope can come in handy trying to pinpoint the noise, you can take the fan and shroud off if it helps to find it.
Even a tube up to your ear can really help find the noise.

I've replaced two water pumps on my '93 for the same loud squeak-squeak-squeaking, which didn't fix the problem either time, and turned out to be nothing more than the serpentine belt, both times. I've gotten real good at changing the water pumps, though. My guess is manual tranny X's or those driven agressively with quick jumps in engine speed slick up parts of the belts and cause the squeak. Most recently I had to replace one after only a few thousand miles due to the incessant squeaking, just because it bugs me and sounds like I'm driving some old clunker, causing stares and looks of superiority from other motorists at traffic lights. Sometimes an idler pulley thats going could cause the belt to slick up and squeak, but so far for me it's just the belt.

check the spring in your tensioner, might be time for a new tensioner setup not just th e pully bearing.

Also check the torque on all your accessory mounting bolts, alternator, ac compressor, etc, could be out of alignment.

You can use WD-40 or similar to spray each pully one at a time and see if it effects the squeek, help pinpoint.

When I first did my v8 conversion and got it running I had an oil line blow and about 4 hours later I had the 2 quarts of 10-30 cleaned up out of the engine bay. 2 days later the PS pump started sqeeking like mad....I replaced both idler pullies withones from my donor truck, I tried everything, finally pinpointed it to the power steering pump with some WD-40. Turns out it went away, it was just oil still back in there...took 3 days

Ok, thinking it's not the fan clutch now, no noticable wobble. Not noticing any coolant leaks around the pump, it was just swapped of my previously working/lately hydrolocked-slaughtered original engine onto a donor used block, RVT'd-up real good. This was about six months ago.

I now think it might be the tensioner itself as when I hit the belt today with a can of Prestone Wondersqueakbegone it stopped: if this were mechanical, then would the extra traction provided by the spray stop the sound of a bad bearing? It must be the belt slipping on the pulley, maybe a new tensioner would fix this. Can't remember if its still the original one, might be.

Also, torque they pulleys? Uh, no, just heaved on the ratchet till it felt right :hammer: (I have a feeling that the replies to that are going to range :rolleyes: :eek: :nono: )

Thanks to all who threw in their bit on this

(BTW, not to get off track, but a big slap upside Ford engineers' heads for puting a perfect water/air intake right behind the passenger headlight and opening near the grill and not puting the necessary warning sticker about said "performance" feature on my sunvisor, woulda been alot more helpful than the factory "dont drive stupid" sticker which they put there, [which I'm just going to do anyway])

How does one check the alignment on these pulleys? (Beyond eyeballing something drastically wrong)

How does one check the alignment on these pulleys? (Beyond eyeballing something drastically wrong)

I've used straight edge on the pulley face, wire rod (kind of like the string method), careful eyeball, but like the Dayco laser-aligner best. Recent exercise was using the Dayco tool to figure out aftermarket A/C compressor on my Isuzu NPR was half-a-rib off, very hard to tell from the eye-based methods.