Toyota FJ Cruiser Forum banner

1 - 13 of 13 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
69 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
This weekend I was finally able to take the FJ out to a nearby forest after about 2 months of sitting in the garage. On the way there I noticed a slight whine from the engine bay. The whine was present at idle but louder with acceleration. Once there I took a look under the hood and the whine seemed to come from the driver’s side. I figured it could be the alternator starting to go bad but didn’t have the equipment to diagnose there.

At home I used the voltmeter and the numbers actually seemed to check out: 12.4V with engine off, 14.2V at 2K RPM, 14.0V at 2K RPM under load.

I did notice, however, that the whine was now significantly louder and I can no longer pin point it to a specific side. It actually sounds as if it is coming from within the engine, but I’m hoping that’s just from the noise bouncing around the engine bay. After more quick reading I found that this high-pitched whine could be caused by the bearings in the pulleys going bad. I’m planning to inspect them tomorrow as I’m out of daylight today.

Here’s the kicker.. I was about to lock up but wanted to start the FJ once more to triple check my voltmeter readings. I start the FJ and see the check engine light and trac off light illuminated. I pull the codes and there’s 12 of them ranging from random/multiple cylinder misfire and number 6 cylinder misfire to a few airbag codes, a few connectivity master codes, and even a tire pressure “transmitter ID not received” code. I clear the codes and restart the car. They don’t return. The permanent code (can’t clear with any equipment) cleared itself so I am assuming these are all erroneous codes.

Questions:
1- WTF?
2- Can bad pulleys cause this??
3- (I’ve seen a dying alternator light up the dash with false errors/codes) but can an alternator check out ok voltage-wise yet still be going bad?
4- (I replaced the belt 4K miles ago) could that have precipitated pulley bearing failure?
5- Any other common things to check out that can cause multiple random codes and engine whine?

Much appreciated.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
69 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
I'd start with the pulleys and feel so confident I'd order them so I had them for a Saturday replacement.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
Done. I have Gates replacements on the way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
69 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Today I replaced the idler pulleys with Gates brand replacements. The noice is still present. A lot quieter at idle but still comes on past 2K RPMs. Not sure if this improvement is just coincidence or related to the weather (warmer today then the past few days). I did not replace the tensioner pulley, although a replacement is on its way... regardless, the OEM one seems OK so I’m afraid that won’t be the issue either. Any thoughts out there on other possible things to check out? I took the plastic top cover off and it honestly sounds like it’s coming from mid engine.

Here is a video of the noice..
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,368 Posts
Here again are the dangers of "shot-gunning" for a solution, hoping that by replacing multiple parts you will eventually find the one part that was truly bad. It's pretty unlikely that all these completely different portions of the electrical system failed simultaneously, so let's try to isolate potential failure modes and their sources.

First, it's important to get some background information on the vehicle:
a) What model year?
b) How many miles on the odometer?
c) Are you the original owner? If not, how many years/miles have you been the owner, and do you have a complete service history on the vehicle?
d) During the two months the vehicle sat in the garage, was it on a battery maintainer or charger?
e) Has the vehicle ever exhibited a CEL or other OBD-II failure codes?
f) During your little romp in the forest, was this just gentle low-speed cruising along some forest paths, or did it include some aggressive flying through the whoop-de-doos, or deep-water crossings?

f) When you replaced the serpentine belt, are you ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that you got the correct part? Belt lengths are slightly different between earlier and later model years.

Next, let's review what we KNOW:
1. After 2 months of inactivity, you started your FJ and noticed a slight whine when the engine was running. Are you ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that the whine had NOT been present before the 2 months of inactivity?

2. The system voltages look OK, but were they taken at the battery posts themselves, or at the battery terminal clamps?

3. It's not clear if you measured system voltages again AFTER the all the warning lights appeared.

4. Regarding the whining noise, there are multiple possible sources, but they should be easy to isolate. You need a mechanic's stethescope, or a piece of 2-3' long 3/8" diameter hardwood dowel, or a 3' long piece of 1/4" diameter semi-rigid nylon tubing. The idea is to probe one end of the stethescope, dowel or tubing around in the engine bay, next to various moving parts, and place the opposite end against your ear. Any bearing noise from the pulleys or from alternator bearings will be very audible. Also place the end of the tool against the timing cover at various locations to determine if the noise is the timing chain rubbing against something.

If the noise is originating in the alternator, it can be mechanical noise from the bearings, or acoustic noise generated by "electrical" sources within the alternator. These can be just abnormally high charging current from charging a nearly dead battery, or caused by a shorted diode. A shorted diode an induce an AC "ripple" that is superimposed on the DC output, and this can cause all sorts of anomalous behavior in the electrical system.

So provide some answers to the questions above, and we'll move on to the detailed troubleshooting.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
69 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
You are correct, I did not test the pulleys prior to replacing them. Thank you for taking the time to help me diagnose, I truly appreciate it. Here are some answers and more information from today.

———
Background: This is a 2013 purchased last year with around 85K miles. I am the second owner. The previous owner was a young lady who apparently put a lot of highway miles on it and apparently did no off-roading. It now has 98K miles and most are weekend road trips or long destination trips. I do have documentation of the maintenance from the previous owner who was very meticulous about oil change intervals etc. No major repairs on the records I have. The FJ sees a lot of garage time since I only utilize the car recreationally.. I do not keep the battery on a tender. In the past, I have not received any failure codes. On the last weekend trip I did not do any deep water crossings and was mostly cruising; I do admit there were plenty of puddles and mud and I do have signs of muddy water splashing within the engine compartment. Of note, however, the noise started prior to arriving to the forest.
———
I am certain that the belt was the correct size. Of note, at the time of replacement (about 5K miles ago) I also had a shop replace the spark plugs with Toyota OEM plugs, do a brake flush, and a fuel system flush. This was in preparation for a 4K+ mile trip. 2 month prior to all that work I replaced the battery with an Odyssey 1500 and did not notice any electrical issues.
———
“Next, let's review what we KNOW:
1. After 2 months of inactivity, you started your FJ and noticed a slight whine when the engine was running. Are you ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN that the whine had NOT been present before the 2 months of inactivity?”

- I actually noticed the noice as we were driving into the forest, not sure if it was there when we left home but it was definitely there when we turned off the main road and onto the dirt road. At that time I had lowered my window and slowed down and the noise caught my ear. Today I again asked my wife if the whine was there before (she is more attentive at these things) and she confirmed that “the FJ is always making weird whining and whistling noises but never that loud!”

“2. The system voltages look OK, but were they taken at the battery posts themselves, or at the battery terminal clamps?”

- Alligator clips to the clamps. I do keep the clamps meticulously clean and greased, if that makes any difference.

“3. It's not clear if you measured system voltages again AFTER the all the warning lights appeared.”

- Yes, I measured before the codes and after the codes appeared with no change noted. I did not, however, measure after I cleared them. I can recheck voltages with the same voltmeter and see if that reproduces the code issue.
———
I can definitely invest in a stethoscope. Here’s some more information from today: Prior to reading your post I was searching online and from other’s who’ve had a similar noice I copied a few “tests” they performed. I apologize for my ignorance on proper tests if these aren’t legitimate.

1- A gentleman had isolated bearing noise from the pulleys and accessories by removing the serpentine belt and running the engine for 5-10 seconds to see if the noice was gone. For me the noise was still present with no serpentine.

2 Another person had faulty alternator diodes and stated (like you did) that the diodes can emit noise. He unplugged the alternator and ran the engine for a few moments to isolate this. For me the noise was still present.

Thank you again for your time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,368 Posts
OK, removing the accessory drive belt was going to be the next suggestion, so you have already eliminated all accessories (including the water pump and PS pumps) as noise sources.

Next steps will be to:
1. “Sniff” all around the engine bay with a piece of small diameter plastic tubing to try to determine if the noise originates from inside the engine block (very unlikely with only 98K miles).

2. Check transmission fluid level, as too lhigh or too low an ATF level can cause fluid aeration and pump whining. ATF level must be checked at the overflow plug with the vehicle perfectly level and with the fluid at operating temperature.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
69 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Went to start the FJ to begin listening around and... all the codes are back. Taking it to the shop so they can make sense of this. I think it’s reached a level I can’t /won’t mess with at this point. Will post back with their diagnosis.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
69 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
The whining noise is “definitely transmission” according to my shop. I am having a transmission shop take a look. As far as the codes go they were actually unrelated and have been taken care of... turns out those plugs that were installed 5K miles or so ago were counterfeit. At first I thought the shop was BSing me but turns out they are correct. A quick search online revealed that this is actually an ongoing issue with online counterfeit plugs. The lengths that some of these assholes go to for a buck is unbelievable. Now I’m out hundreds for a second plug job on my vehicle because some idiot wanted to make $30 bucks off of me. Not to mention there could have been serious engine damage because of their little scam. I suppose I’m the one to blame for trying to get a good deal on some car parts.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,368 Posts
2013 with 98K miles? I suspect low transmission fluid level, especially if the transmission has never been serviced. (At 98K miles, if the transmission has never been serviced, a complete fluid exchange is a CRITICAL preventive maintenance task.)

First thing I'd do is a COMPLETE fluid exchange (~12 quarts), with careful attention to setting the correct fluid level: vehicle level, transmission fluid at operating temperature, etc.
 
1 - 13 of 13 Posts
Top