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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a 2006 Highlander that has been garage kept. My daughter was driving it when she was in high school but in her first year of college we told her...no vehicle. Anyway, I generally take my 1995 T100 to work but take hers ocassionally just to run it. Well, the last few days, as many of you are experiencing, the days have been bitter cold. So rather than start my T100 and let it run for quite some time, I've been taking hers since it's in the garage. :smile: I notice that when I first start it, there is a quick whirring noise which goes away quickly (few seconds). I took it to work yesterday and it sat out in the 5 degree temps all day. When I went to start it in the afternoon, the whirring noise was very loud and lasted for quite some time. After the vehicle warmed up, the noise went away. While the car was warming up, I popped the hood and heard the noise coming from the left side where the belts are located.

The Highlander has 138K miles on it and the water pump and all belts (including timing) were replaced at 100K. Any ideas on what could be causing this noise? The only way to replicate it is for the vehicle to sit out in the cold for a while, so I know if I take it to a shop and the vehicle is warm it won't make the noise. Thanks for any suggestions!

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UPDATE: I was able to take a video and record the sound coming from the engine this afternoon. The Highlander sat out in the cold all day and made the noise from the engine. It went away after the Highlander warmed all the way.

Not sure how the link will work here, so you may have to download the file to view the video.

http://pages.suddenlink.net/petrella/toyota/engine_noise.mov
 

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Does the pitch change when the engine speed changes? Have you checked all yer fluids? I would guess power steering pump/fluid. You should be able to inspect the PS fluid and check fer bubbles. The fluid could be just low enough to cavitate when cold (contracts when cold and expands when hot) until the fuild gits warm enough. Just my guess... ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Does the pitch change when the engine speed changes? Have you checked all yer fluids? I would guess power steering pump/fluid. You should be able to inspect the PS fluid and check fer bubbles. The fluid could be just low enough to cavitate when cold (contracts when cold and expands when hot) until the fuild gits warm enough. Just my guess... ;)
Thanks for responding. Yes..there is a slight change in pitch as the engine speed slows down while warming up. Also, if I move the steering wheel in either direction the noise increase and decreases. I'll have to check the fluid level for the PS. So if there are bubbles then either the PS fluid is too low or there is an issue with the pump? Thanks again!
 

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Thanks for responding. Yes..there is a slight change in pitch as the engine speed slows down while warming up. Also, if I move the steering wheel in either direction the noise increase and decreases. I'll have to check the fluid level for the PS. So if there are bubbles then either the PS fluid is too low or there is an issue with the pump? Thanks again!
Yes, bubbles would indicate cavitation which is usually due to low fluid. Remember to use the proper fluid as specified in yer owner's manual...most likely Dexron II or III which also know as ATF (automatic transmission fluid). There may be a leak some where to cause the low fluid so a careful inspection is key to finding where it might be. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Here's some pics of the PS reservoir and inside. The inside are the best I can get considering the narrow opening. But there is no fluid in there.





 

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I definitely see some small bubbles on top in the second piccie. It would seem like there is some fluid in there but probably low. I would try topping it off to the top line and see how that goes. ;)

It would be good to wipe off any dust residue before opening the cap and also around the edges making sure not to git any inside the reservoir. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I definitely see some small bubbles on top in the first piccie. It would seem like there is some fluid in there but probably low. I would try topping it off to the top line and see how that goes. ;)
I'll be getting some ATF in the next couple of days. Looking down into the reservoir there is no standing fluid. Just wondering how this fluid could be so low and never seeing any signs of a leak.
 

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my 2015 4runner does the same thing when below 10 degrees or so. it has 2000 miles total and Im not worried, you may be experiencing normal characteristics in cold weather. If the cars service, fluids, filters, tune up.....ect is current I'd leave it alone.

the pics show normal level on P/S fluid from what I see. in the middle cold seems right. dont overfill it.
 

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It could be that the ATF that's in there gits too thick when it's really cold. You could try performing a fluid exchange and trying a synthetic ATF instead and see if the problem persists. ;)
 

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I am actually experiencing the exact same problem in my 2004 Highlander LTD. I normally keep it in the garage but, had to park outside 1 day in negative temps. My PS fluid is as low as the pics above show but, I have not looked inside for bubbles. Can you please follow up here and let me know if it's been better since you added more ATF?
 
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