Noisy timing chain adjustment

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Does your engine make a lot of noise from the passenger side of the car. It’s a “grrrr” type noise just above idle, not a clank. If you listen closely with the hood up, what you may be hearing is the timing chain rattling because it’s not receiving enough pressure from the tensioner.

Normally this involves bleeding the piston properly, which is not documented very well.

This step takes about an hour, a ¼ ratchet with 10mm socket and small extensions, two new gaskets for the upper timing cover and some RTV silicone sealant, along with a quart of the oil you are currently using.

The procedure is the same whether the engine is new or already broke in. Only step 3 is different because the reservoir is shaped to be level when the engine is at it’s normal mounting procedure and you must compensate for that.

Steps to a quieter timing chain are as follows:

  1. Remove the valve cover completely
  2. Remove the upper timing cover, which is the cover in front of the timing chain gear
  3. If the engine is out of the car, move the engine so that it is approximately in its normal tilted position with the bottom of the oil pan horizontal.
  4. Carefully remove the timing chain tensioner piston cover. The spring and piston will come out unexpectedly so be careful and be ready to catch the pieces. Note the position of the spring, it only goes in one direction!
  5. Inspect the piston and clean it carefully with either kerosene or a carb cleaner. If it’s totally clean you should be able to shake it up and down and hear the ball bearing inside it rattle.
  6. Insert either a cleaned or new tensioner piston into hole so that the tab on the tension rail sits in the slot on the end of the tensioner. This normally with the tabs on the piston turned horizontally because the slot runs vertically on the tensioner rail.
  7. Next insert the spring, washer and threaded plug. then tighten one complete turn of the threads, just enough to hold it to the lower timing cover.
  8. Pour oil down the inside edge of the cam sprocket cover to fill the tensioner oil reservoir. This can easily be done with a syringe or an old fashioned oil can because it won’t take but a small amount to fill it to the top.
  9. Now with your fingers on the tensioner rail, force of the tensioner spring, then release the rail. Repeat until oil is moving out of the threads on the back of the tensioner piston cover on the lower timing cover.
  10. Secure the timing chain tensioner piston cover
  11. Continue step 9 again until the tensioner rail quits moving or is very difficult to move.
  12. It might be necessary to refill the oil reservoir to completely bleed the tensioner.
  13. Before reassembly, ensure the reservoir is full and that all gasket material of the upper timing cover has been removed and replaced
  14. Put a dab of RTV silicone sealer in the crack between the head and upper timing cover. This is a spot for oil leaks to occur over time.
  15. Tighten everything back up.
  16. Start the car and let the engine warm up
  17. You can now blip the throttle several times and the chain noise should be gone or will go away after a few more blips of the throttle.

Now enjoy how quiet your engine really is!

Last update: 2007-01-02 11:32
Author: Keith K

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