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Old 05-23-2013, 08:21 PM   #1
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Please help! 1987 Honda CRX-SI

I just bought a 1987 Honda CRX-SI 2 days ago. I seemed to have gotten a decent deal, the car is clean and nice, most of the parts are original and 157,XXX miles. The owner said he had recently replaced the timing belt, battery, water pump and a couple of other things. I drove this car for about 4 hours back home that day and the next day it started making a noise.

Now I am a 18 yr old girl who has no knowledge of anything mechanic. AT ALL. It's not really my thing, also I am just barely learning to drive manual and to be honest, I'm trying to be careful but I'm sure the car is hating me and my clumsy attempts to drive it. I'm trying not to hurt it, but like I said, I'm just learning.

The noise is coming from the drivers side, fairly close to me. It starts when I get going around 20 mph or so and its a SQUEAKING noise. It gets faster and faster the faster I go. My Dad said the noise may be related to the revolutions of something? I took it to a car shop and the mechanic drove it around real quick, brought it back and said with certainty that the alternator was going out. I said I'd get back to him because my Father could fix it himself and I wouldn't have to pay labor. So, my Dad took the alternator out, took it to a shop where they bench tested it and said it was fine!

The noise has come and go just a little, but I am making a 900 mile drive to another state in a couple of days! I can't have this car die on me! Do you have any idea what this may be? Any advice for me?
Anything is greatly appreciated!!
Thank you so much,
Jasmine
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:41 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by theredheadriot View Post
It gets faster and faster the faster I go.
Does it track with your road speed, or your engine speed? Let's say you're going 50mph in 5th gear and it's squeaking moderately fast; if you stay going 50mph but shift to 4th gear does the squeak get a lot faster?

By your description, until you got to the alternator diagnosis, it sounded to me like a common wheel bearing symptom. If shifting doesn't change the speed of the squeak then this is very likely. Wheel bearings aren't horribly expensive and are a good job for a backyard mechanic on most cars, though I know a 1991 Civic's wheel bearings can be a more involved job and the 1987 CRX could be the same design. It could also be a brake noise, probably harmless but obviously annoying.

If shifting DOES change the speed of the squeak then it could be the alternator, the belt, or something else on a belt. A squeaky alternator may just be squeaky, but still be fully functional. There is a bearing in the alternator that could be faulty, causing the squeak.

There are certainly other possible diagnoses but those are the most common ones I can think of for your description. Hopefully if I've missed something, someone else will post too.
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:50 AM   #3
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Check the brakes. The low wear indicators will cause squeaking, or something got loose/bent and is now rubbing.

My boss's CRV was making a noise, and it turned out to be a loose heat shield in the engine bay. But that wouldn't necessarily be rhythmic.

Belts can also cause squeaking.

edit: THC gave a better reply.

Are the wheel bearings sealed or servicable on those age Hondas.
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Old 05-24-2013, 03:28 PM   #4
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1. don't need to drive around to determine if it's alternator. Turn engine on, they normally idle at 750 revolutions per minute, and simply listen to it with hood open. A suitable length of garden hose works great as stethoscope to pin point noises coming from spinning parts under the hood
2. The closest thing to your left knee, as you described it, is tire well. That is where the driver side wheel, hub bearing, and brakes are. Engine noises come more towards from the front and center of the engine bay. Look underneath the hood. Which side are the belts on - driver side or passenger side? If they are on the passenger side, as Honda changed engine orientation in the bay several times through the years, then it is not any of spinning components.
I am inclined to say, it's brakes or area around the brakes. Ask your Father to jackstand car front so that wheels are clear off the ground; chock rear wheels safely; turn engine on and engage D. Slowly accelerate to speeds above 20. Noise should clearly show itself, if it's related to the components in the tire well.
Sometimes it's pads ware indicators, but truly, those squeal when you touch the brake pedal; it can be bent dust shield behind the hub; it can be rock stuck between the shield and rotor. Hub bearing does not make squealing noise, it makes crunchy noise, like as if a bunch of beetles would. Also, bad bearing can be easily determined by spinning wheel by hand and by rocking wheel back and for with hands on 6 and 12. If there's play, bearing is busted.
This should be a good starting exercise to determine and rule out most of the common squeal causes. But whichever way it goes, it is a rotating something, a wheel, a bearing, a rotor. Belts don't really squeal continuously, they usually squeal when engine is under load and belt slips.
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Old 05-25-2013, 04:08 AM   #5
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Great thoughts, ukrkoz!

Not all brake pad wear indicators squeak when you touch the brake pedal. The ones on my 1980 Buick squeaked while NOT touching the brake pedal. Touching the brake pedal made the squeak stop. It's a less common design, but it does exist.

Wheel bearings usually make the crunchy/grinding sound and fail the rocking test when bad, but not always. They can make a huge variety of noises and not fail the test but still turn out to be the guilty component. Another test, the passing of which is also inconclusive, is to spin the wheel and see how freely and smoothly it spins (though it can be complicated by the drivetrain when it's a drive wheel).
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Old 05-25-2013, 06:53 AM   #6
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Sure and happy morning.
I can only speak based on personal experiences, like all should, and I have been mending my cars since 1991. Had Buick too. Never heard of wear indicator squealing with brake pedal not engaged, but sure why not. If it's down to bare metal and rotor warped a bit, it will wobble and catch. But truly, it is not a squeal, it is a metal on metal grind.
What OP needs to do, is to shoot a little vid while it's making the noise and post it.
Also, glazed rotor will make noise brakes engaged or not.

Pretty much, OP, - we need more info. Unless Father took care of it.
Btw, do not feel your car hates you. It's a car. But what it does, as part of your destiny, is challenge you with something you need to overcome. Civics are very likeable, they are like little bulldogs, will keep going and going. I had 91 one, $250 purchase from associate. All battered. She would take me anywhere, slowly but surely, at 38mpg. I donated her to one of my patients 4 years ago - she is still driving him around. They are good girls.
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Old 05-26-2013, 04:42 AM   #7
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To clarify, here's what the 1980 Buick OEM chassis service manual published by GM says:
"Noise (high-pitched squeak without brake applied): Front linings are worn out."
I don't know why they designed it inverse to the normal behavior, but some are designed that way.
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Old 05-26-2013, 06:11 AM   #8
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Good to know. Thank you. I did experience same situations on other makes, but pads must be completely gone, down to metal, caliper not free on guides, and rotor wobble on hub some, to stay in contact with pad backing plate. Which is a disaster.
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Old 05-28-2013, 04:26 AM   #9
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Yikes, that would be a disaster. If you want to be scared to drive on the streets with others who ignore maintenance, check out carnage sometimes posted to these sites:
Safe Braking | Brake Tech TherapySafe Braking | Brake tech therapy
Just Rolled Into the Shop
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