Foul Weather Mystery

Neil Vonhof nhvonhof at
Mon Nov 18 21:30:13 EST 2002

What you are describing is exactly what happened to me - it even
happened in Colorado. I bought my car in April of 2000 in Taos, NM. Flew
down and drove it back to Seattle. Leaving Taos north into CO toward
Durango I hit a storm with snow and slush and super wet roads (it wasn't
quite freezing). The screechy screaming started and I freaked out
thinking the engine was blowing up or ??? I stopped quickly and the
noise was gone. Started moving again and it began screeching again so I
slowly proceeded to the next town and called the PO who said it happened
to him a couple of times in the 6 years he had owned the car and he was
told it was the water/slush accumulating in the UFO's. I imagined some
sort of harmonic vibration that builds as speed increases, but really
have no idea why it happens. I was very relieved to find that it was not
a harmful situation for the car and that no damage was being done.  It
was not related to engine RPM, but was totally related to MPH. Slowing
to below 40 MPH or so made it begin to fade away. Stopping the car
stopped the problem entirely and it came back slowly after speeding up
again to 40/45 or above. It was such thick slush and deep standing water
that speed was effected just from the car meeting all that resistance
and I don't think there was any power loss - again, I don't think it's
engine related at all. It happened one more time on that trip going
through slush and standing water going over the pass into Salt Lake
City. It 's never happened since. However, I have never encountered
those conditions since either. BTW the PO never heard of any fix for it.
He just excepted it as a rare and unthreatening occurance and I guess I
have adopted the same attitude. I suppose if I had to drive through
those kinds of extreme conditions regularly I would look for a solution.
Makes me wonder how many other's have had this expirience and if it's
ever happened to a car without UFO's. Maybe getting rid of the UFO's is
a solution.
My car has been nearly perfect since I bought it and there has never
been any sign of damage or failure of any part that could have been
related to that incident.
BTW I don't remember a "throaty noise."

Neil Vonhof
1991 200q20v Sedan  140,000 miles, Glacier Blue
IA Stage 3, Bilstein Sports, V8 Tail lights
Borbet 5 spoke wheels, K&N Air Filter

Peter Sebestyen wrote:

>I posed a "baffling problem" to the list on 10/16/02 regarding a "loss of
>power in foul weather".  The general consensus was to replace my plug wires
>and the problem should be resolved.  I replaced the wires as suggested
>however the problem is still there.  More than likely, I mis-stated the
>symptoms since it had been a while since the car exhibited the problem.
>I'll try to give a better description now.
>I'm driving a '91 200q20V Wagon, Hoppen Chip, K&N Filter, Bilstein's,
>otherwise stock.  The car is solid and strong until I hit heavy rain,
>standing water or sloppy, slushy conditions at which time the car develops a
>throaty, grumbly sound with accompanying vibration.  Sometimes it will start
>to screech and scream - LOUDLY.  When it happened this weekend, I put it in
>neutral and revved the motor - the screaming continued regardless of RPM's,
>however the throaty noise did follow the RPM's.  It's difficult to say if
>there is an associated power loss because the noise is so disturbing that I
>slow down and try get off the road.  On Friday, the screaming was VERY LOUD!
>But by the time I got off the road, it had stopped.  Within a few miles, the
>road turned from wet slop to dry pavement and the symptoms vanished.  In
>Colorado, sloppy and/or heavy rain conditions are usually short lived so I
>have just dealt with it over the past couple of years.  Now I want it fixed!
>One more thing, it does NOT happen when the roads are snow covered - there
>has to be water.
>Background:  New belts last month, new plug wires last week.
>Ideas:  Exhaust?  Breaks (UFO's)?  Some sort of thermal condition inducing
>warping somewhere?
>Any help will be greatly appreciated!
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