Belt squeal and other joys
I've been having a whole cocktail of problems recently, and I suspect they might be tied to the same issue... I'm just not sure what that issue is.
The first thing to pop up was a squealing sound, like a belt. It's generally worse at lower RPMs. Sometimes it's directly linked to the heater fan (starts and stops as I switch the blower on and off), and sometimes it's totally independent. Usually it gets worse as I push down on the accelerator, but it's still there during idle. Sometimes it'll stop suddenly when I get into 3rd gear. It's intermittent, and pretty unpredictable. I've only noticed it since it started getting cold here, and sometimes it seems better on warmer days. I haven't noticed any smoke or burning smells.
The second thing is that the Check Gauges light often comes on right after I start it up, and the battery meter (which is usually right in the middle) drops to zero. This problem is also intermittent, and there's nothing in between. Either the gauge is perfect, or zero. It might happen less in warmer weather, but it hasn't been warm enough for me to notice a trend. It's been starting and running perfectly, regardless of the battery gauge.
The third thing only happened one day. I was driving on a long trip (Pittsburgh to Boston) and several times, at highway speeds (60-70mph), I lost all of my power. One time it stalled, the other two times the engine kept running, but stomping on the gas did nothing. I coasted to the side of the road, and then it was fine. It started right back up perfectly, or (when it hadn't stalled) I just shifted down to a low gear, and then I as able to accelerate again and get back on the road. Really weird.
Any ideas? Sorry for the really long write up. Thanks!