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Your serpentine belts tension is loose or the belt is going hard. Check the tension on the tensioner pulley and condition of belt.
The belt is slipping on your accessory pulleys when a load is placed on them such as power steering, alternator and clutch fan.
I also have an 04 Sorento and LOVE it. I live in northern indiana where it is super cold in the winters and just this year my truck started squealing when temps got low and when the heat is on. My dad has also changed the belts, even though they looked fine. that didn't fix the problem. I was searchng for some answers and it seems that many people are having this same issue with sorentos. Its super annoying and like you sid embarassing! I love my truck, but HATE this sound! if you find anything else out, please post! Thanks!
I would start with a belt. While removing it feel how much tension the tensioner has on it, on the 3800 egnine they have a stiff tensioner(sorry I don't have any specs for how much) After you get the belt off you can look at all of the pulleys and spin them to see if the bind or look for stuff stuck in the grooves on the pulleys.
It sounds to me like the belt is streched. I would not recommend one of those gator back belts, they seem to make more noise sooner than a good v notch belt. But thats just my opinion!
One of your pulleys is seizing. Most likely the a/c compressor or the tensioner (idler pulley).
Use a helper.... turn OFF a/c and have someone start the car. Observe the pulleys and see if the center one quits turning or is the source of the noise.
If can't determine and no noise, turn ON A/C and observe.
You will find it, but stay out of the line-of-fire if the belt breaks... it will be slingshot out of the engine compartment!!
It is most likely a pulley that needs oiling or replacement. If fans are ran by a belt, the fan clutch may be stuck or pulley is seized. If the fans are electric, the motors may have fried or relay is shot.
Shortly after replacing the serpentine belt in my lancer, the same thing happened. It is NOT the timing belt. Belts squeal when they slip. If your timing belt slipped it would cause your car to run funny.
have somebody check the belt for wear (or do it yourself), replace if necessary. If it doesn't need replacement, just tighten it.
If you have the 4cyl engine that I have, the tightening is kind of a pain in the ****. Not a great design by mitsubishi. There's a pulley near the front right corner of the engine in front of the alternator. the belt should be running around this pulley GROOVE SIDE OUT. This is the tension pulley.
To tighten: 1) Lightly loosen the bolt in the center of the pulley (slightly loosen, DO NOT REMOVE). 2) Under that pulley there's another bolt. You can see that the bolt goes through a piece of metal attached to the back of the pulley. Figure out which way you need to turn the bolt to move the pulley toward the front of the car. (i don't remember if it's right hand thread, or left hand) This puts extra tension on the belt. You probably don't need much. Over tensioning the belt can cause pulley bearing failure. If you haven't done this work before, ask someone for help. It's better to tighten a little bit, a few times rather than overtighten once. 3) Don't forget to ReTighten the bolt in the center of the pulley.
If there's lots of cracks and pieces missing on the ribs or grooves of the belt you should replace it first.
The noise is most likely the serpentine belt. Check it's condition and that of the belt tensioner. It sounds like the belt is slipping, causing the squealing noise u describe. As the belt warms up, it's getting a better 'grip' and the noise stops. Turning on the heat also turns on the a/c in newer cars, this added drag on the belt (one more component to turn, the a/c compressor) would explain why it happens when u turn on the heat. Is the belt original? If yes, it's time to change it, and check the belt tensioner to make sure it's doing it's job of keeping the belt snug on all the pulleys. Let me know how u make out.