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Viscous Fan Clutch Squeak/Squeal? OR waterpump?

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  • Viscous Fan Clutch Squeak/Squeal? OR waterpump?

    Posting this here since involves a brand X....

    Abt 1k miles or so, 2004 F150 started up one morning at the farm with some squeaking underhood in the belts and pulleys area. It stopped after a while. The next day, it did not repeat.

    Drove 190 miles home the next day and it was squeaking quite a lot when I pulled into the driveway.

    I decided to shot-gun the low hanging fruit and ordered both idler pulleys, a tensioner pulley, and a new belt. This stuff was all original. Truck has ~78k on it even thought its "old" now at near 18. Parts were not $$ and easy to do it myself.

    While I had it apart to R&R above, I turned all the other pulleys by hand and the alternator was squeaking when turned one direction but not the other. Went and got a new alternator. That was more significant $$.

    Put it all back together and at first start, there was some squeaking yet.... That stopped after a moment. Drove it 2x the next couple days on errands and it "seemed" fixed. Maybe the new belt was breaking in a little....

    Next trip to the farm came. Maybe heard some more cold start squeaks that would go away.

    Trip home again, it was intermittantly squeaking or maybe even squealing that I noticed when coasting down to enter the ramp onto the interstate on my trip.

    When I got home, it was quiet.

    So, with some misgivings this is still not fixed, I was again to the farm this weekend. I was planning to tow my trailer back home too.

    Partway through the trip, I had to go through detours in a town with steep hills. Some pretty loud squealing heard in the cab going up hill. Again, goes away again and quiet when I got to my destination.

    So, yesterday at the farm, I had to move the truck while I was mowing. It had been setting 2 days. When started, it immediately started with squeaking turning into squealing that would intermittantly start and stop. It was quite loud and scary sounding. I went into the house and grabbed a soap bar to rub on the belt to see if that affected anything (slipping belt test). Did not matter. Turned the AC on/off and no effects.

    I went to grab my phone to take video and when I got back, it had quit.

    Moved the truck and noted that it may squeak or squeal some on speeding up the engine, but not consistent.

    My calibrated ear is telling me its a bearing going out. This morning I moved it again and more intermittant squeals that stopped but this time I could barely hear a faint squeak (I still have good high frequency hearing as did not listen to load music in my younger days).

    So, not wanting to chance a breakdown on the road coming home today, I decided to take my 82yr old mom's car (that she does not drive since 2016... A story there) as I need to be at work tomorrow and need time to arrange to get this truck to a shop in that area and vacation time to deal with it.

    There is about 190 miles of rural nowhere between the farm and home and especially on a holiday weekend.

    So, the last time I was listening to this, seemed to be around the water pump area. When I had the belt off earlier, I turned the WP pulley and it was smooth and tight (no slop). There is no coolant leaking even now. This truck has a viscous fan clutch on it. It turns against the pulley with some drag that seemed normal.

    Could the clutch bearing be failing or is it most likely the water pump?

    I just replaced a WP on another vehicle earlier this year, and that was making a raspy noise and in short order was leaking coolant badly.

    Jeff in ND

  • #2
    My experience on Ford trucks is that the likely culprit is the power steering pump. I suggest you use a stethoscope or a piece of rubber hose to better locate the noise.
    78 Avanti RQB 2792
    64 Avanti R1 R5408
    63 Avanti R1 R4551
    63 Avanti R1 R2281
    62 GT Hawk V15949
    56 GH 6032504
    56 GH 6032588
    55 Speedster 7160047
    55 Speedster 7165279


    • #3
      I'd put my money on the belt tensioner. If it were me I probably just replace both the pump the tensioner and the belt and save having to do the job again when one of the other parts goes out.


      • #4
        My thought was also the power steering pump.
        In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.


        • #5
          I'd put my money on the belt tensioner. If it were me I probably just replace both the pump the tensioner and the belt and save having to do the job again when one of the other parts goes out.
          Belt and tensioner replaced already...

          Jeff in ND


          • #6
            Followup on this....

            Per my original post, I arranged to have a relative drive the truck to a local shop while I took my Mom's 2004 Grand Marquis home (she no longer drives and it mostly sets around). I was some worried about that thing too as the tires are at least 10yrs old...

            The shop checked it out and also thought it seemed to be the water pump. Pump got replaced. BUT, there was still some squeaking so they wanted to keep it for a while longer. This was at the 2 week mark when I was at the farm again back on Sept 18.

            Eventually, they determined it was the AC compressor and that got replaced too. I picked up the truck this last Friday (4wks later) and made it home this Sunday w/o any issues.

            So, now the only thing left was the PS pump unless it was an internal issue!!!

            If I had found the AC compressor, I would have probably looked into replacing the idler bearing and avoided the whole compressor and freon deal. I replaced that bearing on my Subaru 2x times so know it could likely be done.

            This was sure a frustrating and $$$$ repair all said and done.

            Jeff in ND


            • #7
              Long, long ago (twenty years ago?) I had to replace the AC clutch on my 1996 F-150. If I recall correctly, the idler bearing seized. Amazing to me is that the truck has never been recharged with refrigerant and it still blows as cold as the day it was new.
              In the middle of MinneSTUDEa.


              • #8
                Yeah, I'd never had any AC work done on this truck either. So, original 18yrs old freon. The shop told me they put the original freon back in and didn't need to add any either.... I guess we will see if any leaks now develop!!!!

                Jeff in ND