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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A new sound my car has started to make recently is a loud whistle sound. First noticed it about a month or so ago.. I’ve got a 98 Tracer GS.. the most basic automatic they made I think lol.

I’d be driving along slowing down and would hear what sounded like a high pitched whistle sound then it stopped? I heard it a few more times but I was always driving or braking when I heard it and put it down to my brakes. Last time I got this sound was while parked, car was off and I returned to it started it up and it gave that loud whistle sound for a few seconds then stopped?

So it’s not the brakes..but what could it be? The sound itself does sound like a whistling sound.. loud and constant for a second or two then it’s gone? I’ve no idea how to make it do it again or else I’d have a sound file attached. The only thing that sounds close to it is like a kettle you’d boil on the stove that would whistle when the water is boiling.

Otherwise the car seems fine, temperature is good, timing belt was done last year, just had the oil changed..etc
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I think I found another part of the whistling problem. Today as I was about to leave work I get in the car, turn on the engine and it sounded and felt very choppy almost sputtering and the car felt like it was almost bouncing in park? It did this before maybe twice and previously it did it after I had parked with the engine running. Anyway it sputtered for about a minute until I put my foot on the brake at which point I heard the whistle sound only this time it sounded more like a groan. I pulled out and started to drive slowly and it kept sputtering on for a bit then it just stopped and ran as normal? Almost felt like it wasn’t getting enough air/fuel and was coming close to stalling.

I’d love to spend the time trying to figure out what it is and fix it but this is my only car and I need it for work so I can’t risk killing it! Could it be a dirty filter, bad fuel? I’ve run some of that Marvel Mystery Oil through the fuel tank before actually just put in my second batch of it, per directions on the bottle. Previously (few months ago) I’ve used the STP fuel cleaner noticed no impact one way or the other so stopped using it. The oil is fresh about 1,000 miles ago along with a fresh oil filter. As far as I know the fuel filter is very likely original. This car has 94k on the clock and as stated above it's a 98 Tracer GS.

Thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
white-lightning said:
Sounds like a vacuum leak to me. Get a can of starting fluid and spray around. The engine will rev up slightly when spraying on the leak.
I've done the vac leak thing to death there are no more, I found one and fixed it I can't find anymore. It did it again today more sputtering quite heavy. It sort of reminds me of when my Saturn needed wires and would sputter quite a bit but... the tracer just got a new set of wires/plugs at 75k when I bought it, it's only at 94k now...

I might just have someone have a quick look at it as I dont wanna get stranded somewhere pay for a toe only to find I needed a stupid fuel filter or wires or something lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
white-lightning said:
You might try a SeaFoam treatment through the intake system in case your intake is just full of carbon build up from the egr system.
Thats been suggested before but I've never did the seafoam before and I'm actually scared I'll end up doing more damage to this thing that fixing it! lol...

I did check the wires so see if there was any acring and there isn't that I could see then again the car is running perfectly right now.
 

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Are you getting any check engine codes?

This sounds suspiciously like you have a loose valve seat that's about to drop and severely damage the engine. If you have a mechanic, have him do a cylinder leak down test when the engine is running rough and before it clears itself up. Start with cylinder #4, the most likely to fail.

The whistling might be unrelated, possibly from the timing belt tensioner that's on its way out. If the belt breaks, the engine won't run, but you won't damage anything (non-interference engine).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
rbailin said:
Are you getting any check engine codes?

This sounds suspiciously like you have a loose valve seat that's about to drop and severely damage the engine. If you have a mechanic, have him do a cylinder leak down test when the engine is running rough and before it clears itself up. Start with cylinder #4, the most likely to fail.

The whistling might be unrelated, possibly from the timing belt tensioner that's on its way out. If the belt breaks, the engine won't run, but you won't damage anything (non-interference engine).
Check engine code would make this easy but there are none. This whistle sound is weird last time it sounded like a moan? The belt tensioner was replaced as was the belt at around 84k am now at 94k. I'd happily have our mechanic take a look at it but it runs rough at random and I haven't found any way to get it to do it so I could show someone or take a video.

I did notice last time it was running rough I had the A/C off (new in 1.5 years ago) I revved the engine the roughness kept on no difference, A/C on no difference driving forward i moved slow and didn't really notice any major loss in power then it clears itself up. It only seems to be rough for about 30 seconds at most. Engine was still warm as I had driven it at lunch and it sat in a parking garage for maybe another 4 hours before i drove it again.

I have no oil leaks or other fluid leaks that I've noticed, I've got a white driveway so any leaks would be very easy to spot! I have it checked our regularly as it's an older car and am not the first owner. Had it checked at 92k and all looked good, oil was changed, filter replaced..etc underneath and under the engine appeared very clean.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Normally the car is used 2 go back and forth to work in but it was recently driven about 1000 miles across country. Mainly on the interstate, oil changed and everything checked out before leaving of course. Could some bad fuel do this? maybe a dirty filter? Before the trip the car was fine and these problems just cropped up? I have run some marvel mystery oil through it a few times. I've also a few times in the past mistakenly stopped at the same stupid petrol station (big brand) and they always seem to be out of 87 when i get there so i get a few spurts and it stops.

I'm hoping it's not a valve.. is there an average life span for the valves? I mean 100k.. 10 years..?

thanks again!
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
white-lightning said:
The valve seat on mine only ran rough when I would start it up cold. After warming up a few minuets it would quit or if I revved it it would quit.
The engine on mine was still warm on every occasion it's run rough... I typically leave work for lunch then about 4 or 5 hours later I'll leave for the day the engine is still warm. Revving didn't do a thing.. it's odd.. I'm hoping it's something easy like a fuel filter, I'll have to grab one and replace it.. whats to lose $11 or so? lol
 

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You may have a leaky fuel injector. Not a problem when the engine is cold, because it needs to run rich then anyways, or the fuel has evaporated. But when it's warm, that cylinder runs too rich to fire.

Your mechanic can check for this by seeing how fast fuel pressure drops after the engine has been turned off.

Besides letting the engine run 30 seconds until it clears, you might want to try cranking the engine with the gas pedal fully depressed for 5-10 seconds to clear the engine, and then start the car normally. (The injectors are shut off when the pedal is fully depressed while starting the car.)

If this is indeed your problem, get the injector fixed/replaced ASAP. If not fixed, it will loosen the valve seat on that cylinder from the thermal stress.
 

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This sounds like a vacuum leak. You can take a length of hose and put one end to your ear and the other around suspectrd areas such as the intake gasket, hoses, EGR gasket, etc and if there's a leak you'll be able to hear it sucking air through the hose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the suggestions, I will check again for a leak and will have it checked out by our mechanic just to see if it isn't anything else or check the computer for recent activity.

It did it today again no whistle/groan but it did sputter quite badly (sounded like a choppy lawnmower?) at lunch time when I was leaving, the car was still warm but not hot. While it was sputtering I switched on and off the A/C no change, revved it up still the same then finally I thought drive it!.. So I did I tried to get the car up to speed as quickly as possible and it was like driving a brick it didn't want to go? That did remind me when the Saturn needed new wires and was misfiring.

When the sputtering stopped it did pickup speed as normal but on the way to and from lunch it felt like it lost power just slightly for a few seconds each time.

I'll have to figure out whats going on before I end up stranded somewhere!
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I’ve read the temperature wrong I’m thinking it’s more likely than not the engine was cool if not cold when it started to shake. The temperature reads at half way after driving the engine gets heated up, I stop turn off the car and the gauge stays there. I get back in hours later/next day gauge is still stuck at half way. That’s until I start the engine then it drops down and starts to read again?

Of course it shook today again was pulling into my driveway and it started to shake and sputter for a few seconds then stopped, few seconds later it did it again then stopped. Now at this point the engine was warm as I’d been driving for 15 minutes.

I should mention that this car did have a vacuum leak, I found some hose that was rotten and replaced it. The shaking stopped almost but started up a few days after it. This shaking seems different in that it’s draining a lot of power from the engine.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
zzyzzx said:
If it's a vacuum leak, it's so bad that it should be easy enough to find just be following your ear.
If it was that easy I'd have found it, believe me I've spent hours looking, listening searching for this leak that's no where to be found! I've used cans of carb cleaner trying to find it.
 

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You might want to try a bottle of gas drier in it. It's possible you got some gas with water in it and it is occasionally picking up the water. It's not going to hurt anything and will only cost about $1.-$2. to find out. I got some gas about a year ago that had water in it. The car would be running fine then all at once it would start knocking a sputtering and have no power (I'd be going down the interstate at 35 MPH because that is all the car would do) until it burned out the water it picked up, then I might drive another 25-50 miles before it would do it again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
FordMan59 said:
You might want to try a bottle of gas drier in it. It's possible you got some gas with water in it and it is occasionally picking up the water. It's not going to hurt anything and will only cost about $1.-$2. to find out. I got some gas about a year ago that had water in it. The car would be running fine then all at once it would start knocking a sputtering and have no power (I'd be going down the interstate at 35 MPH because that is all the car would do) until it burned out the water it picked up, then I might drive another 25-50 miles before it would do it again.
That is one thing I had thought of was bad fuel.. I'll give that a go and change the fuel filter, check yet again for vacuum leaks. I've already run some STP fuel and carburetor cleaner through not all used up yet as I have 1/2 tank left.
 
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