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Discussion Starter #1
Hey All, Just started hearing this a couple of weeks ago when the weather got cold.
Car has 235K on it and I've had it since it was a baby (04).:-D Done most of the maintenance myself and replaced the drive belt a couple of years ago. The whine is louder in colder weather starts (below 40) and seems to disappear after a couple of minutes. I noticed it a couple of weeks ago.
Car runs fine otherwise; steering seems to be OK; battery is charging OK; AC was working fine; water temp is normal (below halfway).
I'm thinking power steering ... maybe AC. Link below to listen. Sorry about the sound quality. Thanks for any help.

https://soundcloud.com/ted-antal/03-element-engine-whine
 

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Been there had that.....

Its a sign that the battery is not holding full charge.

On cold start ups esp in colder weather that sound is the alternator working overtime due to low battery charge.

Replace the battery. I found a DieHard which fit perfectly. Was under $100.00 and no core charge from K-Mart. Same battery from Sears was $125.99 + Core.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
OK, I found another thread where people suggested air in the power steering pump may be a cause of the noise. When I opened the PS reservoir I did notice tiny air bubbles on top. The remedy was with the engine running, to jack up the front end of the car, remove the PS reservoir cap and turn the steering wheel side to side 3 or 4 times, lock to lock, which I did yesterday.

I just tested it and the only noise that I can hear is the drive belt squeaking, which it's been doing for a while during rainy weather. It rained earlier this morning. So the whine is gone. Unfortunately, the outside temp right now is 51 degrees so this is not a true test as the whine is evident closer to 30 degrees.

The below link is what the engine sounded like yesterday after a 5 mins warm up with the temps in the low 40's. The engine did whine again during the first few mins before warming up.

https://soundcloud.com/ted-antal/after-5-mins

I replaced the stock battery on 8/16 with a full size one from from Wally World with CCA of 550 +/- (battery strap is partially blocking the #). I think the battery is fine. The engine fires right up even after sitting a few days in near freezing temps. I'll test the battery later today and post back.

Thanks for all the suggestions.
 

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On another thread someone suggested it might be air in the power steering pump. When I checked the PS reservoir there were tiny air bubbles that I could see. The remedy was to jack up the front end, turn on the engine, remove the PS reservoir cap and then turn the steering wheel side to side (lock to lock) 3 or 4 times, which I did yesterday. After the PS air purge, the reservoir showed no air bubbles. Today when I started the engine all I heard was the squeak from the drive belt which has been happening for about a year in rainy weather like we're having today for a couple mins after starting the car first thing in the AM.

(Has anyone tried the 303 Space Age Lube stuff to quiet a squeaking belt or any other lube?)

Unfortunately, it was 51 degrees when I started the car today and the whine happens in colder weather only, closer to 30 degrees.

Yesterday before doing the power steering air purge, I started the engine and the whine was there. It was around 40 degrees. After 5 mins, the whine went away and the below link is what it sounded like.

https://soundcloud.com/ted-antal/after-5-mins

I just tested the battery with a multi-tester. It showed 12.63 volts with everything off and 12.25 volts with the headlights on and engine off after sitting all night. I replaced the stock battery with a full size Wally World one on 08/16. CCA is 550(?) Battery tie down bracket is partially blocking the number.

I'm gonna try the "short garden hose held up to your ear" as a stethoscope thing when the weather gets cold again and post back.

Thanks for all the suggestions. Cars running fine.
 

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My co-worker (who is a former auto mechanic) mentioned that the failed o-ring in his Element was allowing air into the PS system, but he did not have an actual fluid leak. If you notice air in the PS system again anytime soon, I would start with the o-rings, as they are very cheap and somewhat easy to replace. I hope you get this sorted soon!
 
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