The last couple days I've been driving and hearing a rattling/ticking sound when the car is idle that get a little worse when accelerating. I was headed to the shop this morning and all of a sudden my engine starting steaming and my power steering went out. Luckily I was pretty close to another shop, so I just took it there. I'm thinking/hoping this is a serpentine belt issue and not a timing chain issue since the car still runs, what do you think?
My car has 68000 miles.
My car has an automatic transmission.
A possible scenario, based on your description, is a failing pulley bearing. This would account for the noise, and because the serpentine belt rides on the pulley and drives other accessories such as the power steering pump, the alternator, and, depending on your engine, the A/C compressor and water pump, if the pulley bearing were to seize, the belt would snap. If your serpentine belt drives the water pump, the car would immediately overheat once the water pump stops turning. Because you also mentioned that the steering assist was lost, I would say it is likely that the belt snapped.
If your water pump is driven by the serpentine belt but the water pump bearing seized (as opposed to the pulley bearing seizing), that could also account for the broken belt and would mean that you also need a new water pump. Of course, it is possible the belt broke simply because of age or a defect, but regardless, all of the pulleys and any rotating elements driven by the belt will have to be carefully inspected and replaced if faulty. Be sure to request that any old part that has been replaced is returned to you because that is the only way you can be sure that the work you are charged for was actually done. If you would like some professional mobile assistance with this issue, by all means contact a certified technician, such as one from YourMechanic, who can come to you and diagnose your overheating problem.
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