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Old 03-10-2018, 02:26 AM   #1
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Default Need Help Diagnosing Xterra Grinding Noise

I know, absolutely next to impossible to do this online, but after scouring the Interwebs and my FSM, I’m drawing a blank.

2001 Xterra, 2WD, VG33E with the 4-speed automatic transmission.

A couple years ago, in cold weather, my Xterra started making this grinding noise intermittently. As of this winter, it’s happening whether the temperatures are cold or not. Details are as follows:

1) Sound appears to be coming from the engine bay, and I believe the source is the crankshaft pulley on which the power steering drive belt is run.

2) Sound only occurs during a left hand turn, typically at a 90 intersection. It seems to begin when the transmission shifts from 1st to 2nd.

3) the typical remedy is to manually downshift into 2nd at roughly 30+mph, or shift into neutral and rev the engine up to 3,500+ rpm, at which point the sound goes away (95% of the time).

4) I can usually prevent the grinding noise from happening if I idle around the left hand corner at less than 10mph, though the sharpness of the corner does seem to have an effect. The sharper the turn, the more likely the grinding noise will begin, and persist until I complete the steps described in 3.

5) Accellerating alone doesn’t stop the sound, only sudden increase in RPM.

Whenever I’ve been able to be stopped at home with the noise happening, there seems to be a correlation in tension on the power steering pump belt. I’ve long had issues with leaking power steering fluid, but I’ve simply kept replenishing the amount of fluid. I know, I need to fix the leak, but haven’t taken the time yet.

The crankshaft pulley that the power steering drive belt is attached to seems to be “loose”. The pulley seems to slide forward and back very slightly as if attached to the core of the pulley by a rubber band. The rotational aspect of the pulley seems to be firm, but I believe the grinding noise may be due to tension from the power steering pump causing the crankshaft pulley to “pull” back and it is making contact with some portion of the lower engine block.

Does anyone have any experience with a similar issue, and am I on the right track? I’m hoping to have a good lead on what to replace/work on so I don’t wind up chasing the wrong rabbit.


Last edited by hawkeye; 03-10-2018 at 02:29 AM. Reason: Fixing typos due to not proofreading before posting
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Old 03-10-2018, 05:06 AM   #2
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Maybe a bad or loose mount?
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Old 03-10-2018, 11:31 AM   #3
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Low power steering fluid?
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Old 03-11-2018, 02:29 AM   #4
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Cadillac, that may be something to check. My concern was the mobility of that pulley. On my Hardbody, I don’t recall any of the crankshaft pulleys having the ability to slip fore and aft, so I think that is the issue on the Xterra, but I’m not certain if it’s just an age failure or if it’s a failure due to stress from the particular system the pulley drives, in this case the power steering pump.

JP, I check the fluid regularly. While there is a leak that I need to resolve, the fluid levels are kept in the correct range, and the power steering pump itself doesn’t whine at all.

Last edited by hawkeye; 03-11-2018 at 02:31 AM. Reason: Typographical error
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