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Old 03-02-2007, 01:36 AM   #1
Thelonius
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1995 SL2
Default Dashboard lights dim, then Whistling sound

I tried replying to this topic (http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/sho...histling+rain), but the topic is too old and wouldn't let me. Anyway, as I was driving back from work, I noticed that my dashboard lights would dim, and then all of a sudden this whistling noise, coming from the engine, would start sounding, and soon afterwards, the lights go back to the regular brightness. The speed didn't really matter, and it did this about 2 or 3 times (in a 15-20 min. period). It has been raining, sleeting, and hailing very heavily recently, especially today, which is when it started doing it. With these symptoms, I read that it might be that the alternator has a loose belt or worn bearings or something like that. Is that something I can tell by just looking at it? I don't think it's the radio antenna, just because I don't think it would mess with the electrical system like that. Is there any way of telling if it's damaging to keep driving it while it's doing this with these symptoms? Also, as of today, I am in need of an oil change, although I do use the high mileage stuff (which I top off later with synthetic once or twice between every oil change).

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Old 03-02-2007, 06:20 AM   #2
hardisk_c
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Default Re: Dashboard lights dim, then Whistling sound

My bet would be on the alternator starting to fail. When my buddies' '95 SL2's alternator started to fail it would make a sound like a spooled up turbo. . .

my 2 cents

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Old 03-02-2007, 11:09 AM   #3
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Default Re: Dashboard lights dim, then Whistling sound

Agreed; it's most likely the alternator, but it _might_ be one of the other belt-driven components. Imagine, for example, the power steering pump intermittently bogging down. When it does, it puts a strain on the belt, slowing the alternator and reducing its output. The best way to diagnose this is to run the engine in the driveway until the problem occurs, then IMMEDIATELY shut off the engine, remove the drive belt and spin each pulley by hand, checking for looseness, roughness, noise, etc. But if this proves elusive or inconclusive, my prime suspect would be the alt.

Did you have the A/C button on, by any chance? It's possible the A/C was cycling in and out (itself an indicator of something wrong with the A/C), and when cycled in, was burdening the belt and thus the alternator.

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Old 03-02-2007, 12:04 PM   #4
Thelonius
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Default Re: Dashboard lights dim, then Whistling sound

I just got back from AutoZone, and the battery and alternator tested exceptionally good with the voltmeter, but of course, they kept stressing that doesn't mean it's good. I haven't turned on the A/C for months, so it's not that. Today when I was driving it, it seemed ok until I turned on the headlights. It didn't do the whistling thing (mainly because I was afraid to leave the headlights on), but the dashboard lights dimmed a good bit. At AutoZone, when I had the windshield wipers on, which the tech said is more exhausting than the headlights, it still tested exceptionally well. I'll try running the engine like you suggested, although I have no idea how to remove (and put back) the drive belt. I did get a new drive belt put on back in November, and there's not been any problems until the rain/sleet storm. I'll just see what I can do.

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Old 03-27-2007, 10:08 AM   #5
Thelonius
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Default Re: Dashboard lights dim, then Whistling sound

I was never able to reproduce these conditions again, but lately my car engine has kinda been shaking, that I can feel in the steering wheel, only when it's idling though, especially cold idle. I want to say it has something to do with the drive belt or the parts spinning it (sorry I don't know the technical terms), but I'm not really sure. When the engine is revving while idling, it seems to "skip" pulses if you know what I mean. I'm not sure if this is related to above, but I realized this today that it may be alternator/drive belt related. Also, for the longest, I've been having idling problems, and was wondering if this sounds like something to do with a dirtied throttle body or intake air control, or the idle speed control and throttle position sensor. All of those are things that I plan to get checked out.

Last edited by Thelonius; 03-27-2007 at 10:23 AM..

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Old 03-27-2007, 04:30 PM   #6
jjsk8r85
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Default Re: Dashboard lights dim, then Whistling sound

sounds to me like you should do a few things (at least what I would check)

1. Check all your mounts.

2. Replace the alternator before it causes a big problem.

3. Replace plugs and wires, as well as ECTS if you haven't already.

...
92 SC 5-speed 239k miles

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