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Discussion Starter #1
95 LX. Noise started yesterday. I never had much luck pinpointing the source with a mechanic's stethescope or listening through a hose. Although sounds lower than the alternator. Doesn't make the noise with the belt off (yes and running.) Started like bearing squeal but then like a banging impeller. Been 4.5 years and 40K since I last changed the water pump.
 

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I would take a hard look at the belt tensioner. They also wiggle a little when they are bad. There is a really good spot on the tensioner to use a Harbor Freight stethoscope. It will go bad during the life of the vehicle, so maybe now is it's time.

If a water pump goes bad at 40k, something is not right. A bad one always has a small amount of coolant dripping from the bottom.

Al
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the advice. I swapped out the tensioner, still squeals. Felt under the waterpump and didn't find any coolant. Spinning the waterpump pulley makes a little noise. Likely I'll change it out before my next road trip, unless something easier presents itself.
 

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There is an idler pulley that can squeal. I had the one on my 97 squeal, so I paid top dollar at the dealer for a new one, then it stopped and hasn't squealed for two years!

There are no stationary parts on it to listen with a stethoscope however.

Al
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks. I put a new idler pulley on it and that didn't fix it. Change in pressure on the belt system causes the noise. Turning on a/c and cycling creates the noise, yet still does it with the a/c off. A/C works fine. Turning the steering wheel creates the noise, yet still does it with the car stationary. Power steering works fine. Had a spare alternator so I swapped that out, without helping. Even though it looked fine I swapped out the belt with a spare one, no change. I'll replace the water pump this week.
 

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Turning on a/c and cycling creates the noise, yet still does it with the a/c off. A/C works fine.
You've eliminated all the culprits except the water pump, steering pump and a/c clutch pulley.

Have you tried spinning each pulley with the belt off? If one of them is unusually resistant, that's probably the bad bearing.

If none of them are resistant and you can't manage to spin them fast by hand, you could try using a sanding drum bit with a cordless drill or air grinder, et al (without sandpaper attached, obviously). You should be able to get the tool down under the car to the a/c pulley.
This method should reveal most problem bearings (you may need to use your stethoscope); use the quietest rotary tool possible.
Of course, if there's still no noise, even with the engine off and using the stethoscope, and it only appears when the bearing is under tension via belt, the above method won't be much help, and you're left with either spraying each one down with lube or go easter egg hunting like you've been doing.
 

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To see if it's the AC pulley bearings, turn on the AC, and see if it goes away.

If so, it's the AC clutch bearings.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Changed the water pump today, the annoying squeal is gone. Four years ago I installed a $27 Bosch, today I installed the $81 Motorcraft that I ordered on RA on Saturday. Wanted to make sure I got it done this week. So my plans to go to the NJTA show on the 9th are still on.

Thanks for all the suggestions and advice!
 

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I hope you got the one with the enclosed vanes; Our stock pump didn't have those.

Search has a use...
 

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Congrats! Yeah, the Advance and Auto Zone parts have a short lifespan. The water pump I put on Brenda's old Cougar only lasted 60k miles.

Hopefully the Motorcraft you got from RA is really a Motorcraft. God only knows what kind of trickery they would pull to make something look like a factory part.

Al
 
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