Jeep wranglers have been known to emit some weird and wonderful noises. There is a very specific noise that only affects the JLU range and other high-pitched sounds that affect JK’s. This article will cover each component in detail and explain the possible causes and solutions.
Jeep Wrangler JLU and JK models that produce a high pitched noise can be attributed to any of the following components:
- Electronic Throttle Body
- Slipping Belts
- Failing Water Pump bearing
- Bad Pensioner/Idler Pulley
- Worn Serpentine/Alternator belt
- Leaking Vacuum lines
- Power Steering Pump
- Exhaust Manifold Bolts
As you can see, there are a number of components that can be the cause, so in order to narrow it down, we need to look at a series of symptoms to better understand where exactly the noise is emanating from.
JLU Jeep Wrangler High Pitched Noise
Some of the reported symptoms on the JLU include:
- Constant high pitched whine sound similar to a tuning fork
- Noise is most audible when the ignition is in the ON position but not running
- Random clicking sound under the high pitched sound
- Most audible near the driver side
- Can be heard from the center instrument panel inside the cabin
- Sounds like an electronic noise
- Continues while the engine is running but less audible
So we’ve established the sound is coming from the engine bay area and constant even after the engine is started. That rules out drivetrain and related components. We also know it’s electrical.
Let’s now look at the most possible causes.
- electronic throttle body (JLU Solution)
The JLU has been known to emit a high-pitched squealing noise that stems from the electronic throttle body. Pop in at your local dealership and they’ll have you know its “normal” behavior for the JLU throttle body. It’s a common “symptom” with all JLU Wranglers, and Chrysler/Jeep has no intention of rectifying or changing anything in the near future.
Because it’s a known behavioral trait of the JLU range, it’s commonly labeled as “by design”, and any conversation with a Jeep service technician or manager will confirm this. I guess it’s a “JEEP THING”
Have a look at the below video to confirm your JLU is doing the same thing.
Jeep Wrangler JK High Pitched Squeal Sound when Driving
Again, like the JLU we need to look at some of the symptoms of the high-pitched noises.
- High-pitched squeal sound when driving
- Sound not in sync with the speedometer or RPM
- High-pitched noise is audible under acceleration only
- high pitched noise when in idle or moving slowly
- Most audible when engine has reached operating temperature
- Noises dissipate once speed increases passed walking pace.
- Sound appears to emit from behind the radiator
In order to accurately diagnose your squealing problem, you need to determine a few behavioral facts. Establish if the problem is consistent while accelerating or only when idling. You need to establish if the noise is audible only at specific speeds. Take note of any modifications you’ve done recently. Are the squealing noise synonyms with hard-top wind noises?
In order to answer any of these questions, let’s look at some of the possible causes.
- Slipping Alternator/Serpentine belt
- Failed Water pump bearing
- Debris inside air filter intake tub
- Failing Tensioner Pulley
- Bad Idler Pulley
- Throttle Body
- Damaged Intake Hose
- Leaking Vacuum Lines
- Loose or Broken Exhaust Manifold Bolts
- Failing Power Steering Pump
- CAI (Cold Air Intake) Modification
Let’s look into each component in more detail.
Slipping Alternator/Serpentine belt
It’s very common for a serpentine or alternator belt to start squealing since they have a limited life span.
When diagnosing serpentine accessory drive belts lookout for small cracks that run across the ribbed surface of the belt. Cracks that run from rib to rib are considered normal. It’s not necessary to replace the belt in this instance. What is more serious is when cracks run along a rib (not across) since these are not normal and require the belt to be replaced.
Ensure you regularly inspect your pulleys before and after big off-road trips and if there are signs of excessive wear, heavy glazing, and frayed cords, replace them immediately.
Sounds caused by the accessory drive belt are most obvious at idle. Before replacing a belt to resolve a noise condition, inspect all of the accessory drive pulleys for alignment, glazing, or excessive end play.
Belt tension cannot be adjusted. Refer to the following Belt Tension chart for specifications
|New Serpentine Belt||800-900||180-200|
|Used Serpentine Belt||623-712||140-160|
As you can see from the above specifications the belt loses quite a bit of tension.
Failed Water pump bearing
If you’ve recently had any viscous fan damage, inspect the water pump bearing and shaft assembly. These can pick up debris from a viscous fan drive failure.
Debris inside air filter intake tub
Leaves, dry grass, and other debris can be sucked into the air intake box and become lodged inside resulting in loud squealing noises as the air passes through under acceleration.
Inspect the Air Filter intake tub doing the following:
- Disconnect air intake duct at front of element cover.
- Pry up spring clips
- Release housing cover from locating tabs located on the plastic housing,
- Remove the cover
- Remove air cleaner element (filter) from the housing.
- Clean inside of housing from any debris before replacing the element.
Failing Tensioner Pulley
A failing tensioner pulley will emit a loud squealing noise under acceleration. It usually starts off softly and gradually progresses to a louder more noticeable squeal over a few weeks. If you regularly do water crossings, you need to inspect your tensioner pulley more often, since this can shorten its lifespan.
Bad Idler Pulley
As soon as the engine is started, when idling, a bad pulley will emit a squealing sound. This is due to the bearings in the pulley going bad. An idler pulley will make noise even when the vehicle isn’t under load.
Remove the belt and check if you are able to spin the pulleys freely by hand. No noise or “course” feeling should be present. Inspect for glazing which looks like shiny spots on the ribbed sides.
Throttle noises are another very common trait on the Wranglers due to their internal design where pressurized air escapes through the throttle body.
If you have air escaping through the throttle body, you could be in for something more serious since air escaping through the throttle body is a sign that you could have a bent valve or it’s not seated properly. Inspect valve and valve seat. Reface or replace, if necessary. Also, inspect all throttle body bolts.
Damaged Intake Hose
A damaged intake is another cause of whistling sounds. Inspect the intake hose thoroughly for cracks. Take note of the nipple on the intake manifold, located on the driver side of the engine that feeds to an elbow (black) for cracks. This could cause your cruise control to become faulty as well.
Leaking Vacuum Lines
Thoroughly inspect all the vapor/vacuum lines and hoses. They need to be firmly connected and free of any cracks or tears. Check the vapor/vacuum lines at the LDP (Leak Detection Pump), LDP filter, and EVAP canister purge solenoid for damage or leaks. If a leak is present, a Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC) will be set.
Loose or Broken Exhaust Manifold Bolts
The exhaust manifolds share a common gasket with the intake manifold. The exhaust manifolds also incorporate ball flange outlets for improved sealing and strain-free connections
There are 11 bolts that need to be tightened in the correct sequence and to the exact torque specification, as recommended by the manufacture.
- Fastener Numbers 1 through 5—Tighten to 33 N·m (24 ft. lbs.) torque.
- Fastener Numbers 6 and 7—Tighten to 31 N·m (23 ft. lbs.) torque.
- Fastener Numbers 8 through 11—Tighten to 33 N·m (24 ft. lbs.) torque
Failing Power Steering Pump
The power steering pump is located behind the radiator fan towards the front of the engine. Always make sure you use only MOPAR ATF+4 in the power steering system. Avoid using any 3rd party power steering or automatic transmission fluid since damage may result to the power steering pump and system if any other fluid is used. Take special care not to overfill.
|Unpleasant Hiss or Whistle||Faulty steering intermediate shaft to dash panel seal||Inspect and replace seal at the dash panel|
|Unpleasant Hiss or Whistle||Noisy valve in the power steering gear||Replace steering gear|
|Chirp/Squeal||Loose belt||Adjust or replace|
CAI (Cold Air Intake) Modification
It’s not uncommon for Wranglers to develop loud hissing or squealing noises after installing an aftermarket CAI. The noise will be in sync with the engine RPM as it sucks air into the system. If you cannot live with the hissing/sucking noises, revert back to factory standard.
Purchase a 12-19 Wrangler/Gladiator Throttle Body Spacer Here
Throttle Body Spacer & Gasket for 2012-2020 Wrangler JK JL JT Gladiator 3.6L
Purchase a Mopar Serpentine belt here
Purchase a Wrangler Mopar replacement Water pump bearing here
Purchase a Mopar Wrangler Air Filter here
Purchase a new Wrangler Tensioner & Idler Pulley here
Purchase a new Wrangler Throttle Body here
Purchase a K&N CAI (Cold Air Intake) here
Purchase a Vacuum Line Harness here
Purchase Exhaust Manifold Bolts hardware kit here
Purchase Exhaust Manifold Gasket Kit
Purchase a new Power Steering Pump
Whatever your faulty component is, ensure you replace it with a genuine Factory specification part. Always insist on genuine Mopar parts as far as possible to get the maximum performance and reliability from your Jeep.