The car has been sitting in my driveway for a
couple of months. I started on a regular basis. The
last couple times that I've started it it's been really
cold and it squeals for about 5-10 minutes maybe
a little longer but generally stops in time. Is this a
sign that my belts should be replaced or that my
car just needs to warm up
Shouldn't need to warm it up to not make a noise. Check the condition of your belt and pulleys, one or some might need to be replaced.
When it is cold batteries get hit really hard, it requires more power to,start and engine so when it does fire up the alternator charge is very high trying to replenish the battery, so,if the belt tension is weak the pulleys slip causing the noise, so Tom is right, any worn belts or tensioners should be closely checked. You should also have the battery and charging system tested as it could be an early sign of battery failure. HTH
Since there are NO belt auto-tensioners on these older Subarus, the culprit is ALWAYS a squealing power steering/alternator belt as it's stiff when cold. Once warm and supple it slips (squeals) less. First inspect the belt for a gazillion cross-cracks...and maybe even lost rubber. If so, simply replace, as it's a 10 minute job. If the belt isn't all cross-cut just: 1. Remove any finger guard's 10mm bolts 2. Loosen 2-3 turns the front-mounted 12mm locknut on the long adjuster bolt. You'll see it just under the top run of the ps belt. 2. Loosen a turn or so the main 12mm alternator bolt on the driver's side of the alternator. This is the tight one.... 3. TIGHTEN the top-mounted 12mm vertical belt adjustment bolt 2-3 turns, thereby tightening the belt by pulling the alternator up slightly. 4. Retighten the front-mounted lockbolts (two). 5. Start car and check visually; turn off car. 6. Reattach finger guard if you care to (just a safety issue). This procedure is often needed as winter's mornings stiffen belts. Note that if you install a NEW ps/alt belt you'll find that you have to retighten it after a few weeks as it will have an initial stretch. Regardless, do NO overtighten a NEW belt to try to accommodate this break-in stretch as you're at risk for ruining the ps pump's bearing (the alt's bearing can take it). The procedure above is needed eventually in all Subies, so it falls almost under "normal" maintenance". In this decade they finally went to a large, unified, single 6 rib serpentine belt that has an auto-tensioner. Minor squeaks eventually, but much less cold-start "squealing". So get out your wrench and 10mm and 12mm sockets and you'll be done in 5-10 minutes. MODERATOR: please post as sticky or FAQ somewhere as this gets addressed very often.
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