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Old 07-03-2013, 04:31 PM   #1
monaw81
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2003 VUE 2.2L
Question 03 Saturn Vue Timing noise?

Hello, I just registered so this is my first post- but I have been searching as a guest for months

I have an 03 Saturn vue- 140k miles. I was driving it home the other day and when I stopped to get gas I noticed that there was a loud sound coming from the engine.
I popped the hood and checked the oil (the sound seemed similar to the type you would hear when low on oil) Long story short- I ended up having this towed home for fear that it was a timing issue- and if the belt broke, I might be looking at a new engine.
Now, I am trying to determine if this is a pulley problem or a timing belt problem? I noticed that there does appear to be an oil leak- I am a girl, the last 3 attempts at professional mechanic help have cost me thousands and gotten me no where. Now I am armed with my Chilton, this forum, google, and some knowledge. I think I can do this.
My question is, how can I determine if this is a pulley problem without throwing parts at it? The car ran perfectly prior to this and probably still would if I wasn't too afraid to drive it.
This is my second car this year- owned this for a few months. My last car was a 98 Saturn which.. was a horrific nightmare when it finally died.
Any advice or suggestions would be wonderful. I love this car.
I know it would seem sketchy for me to attempt this as I am not a mechanic- but I am able to fix most things, I have a garage, access to tools and optimism

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Old 07-03-2013, 05:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: 03 Saturn Vue Timing noise?

Just to make sure, do you have the 3.0L v6 or 2.2L 4 cylinder engine? You could try removing the serpentine belt and momentarily run the engine and see if the noise is still there, if it is most likely it's a noise internal in the motor. If not, it's something driven by the belt. When you checked the engine oil was it low? The vues are a little bit of a different animal than the s-series were, this should help narrow the problem down though. Welcome to the forum by the way.

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Old 07-03-2013, 05:15 PM   #3
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 03 Saturn Vue Timing noise?

2.2L 4cyl or 3.0L V6? The 4cyl uses a timing chain, V6 uses a timing belt. Both use a serpentine belt to drive the water pump, a/c compressor, power steering and alternator. Also, is this an auto (2.2L using the VTI xmission) or manual? A V6 auto is good, a VTI xmission is bad with nothing good about it.

Sorry you were taken by unscrupulous shops. You have Saturnfans to watch your back.

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Old 07-11-2013, 02:03 PM   #4
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2003 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: 03 Saturn Vue Timing noise?

Update- and more info.

I had the car towed home last night-
Its a V6- Manual - timing chain. I got it back after a couple weeks and sad to say- the parts taking off weren't put back on. I am now a bit irritated and I wont be hiring a mechanic ever again. That being said-
At the time the noise started- it also was apparently 1 1/2 quarts low in oil. Added that.
The noise is coming from inside the timing cover. Could be a pulley as the timing chain- according to the mechanic looked fine.
Did purchase a new serp belt- because that too looked a little worn so might as well put a new one on. Alternator tested fine.

I've been scouring my manual- I have my tools out I haven't had this car back from the mechanic in 3 1/2 weeks- so at this point I am patient. I can do this. I just don't want to start throwing parts at it as I have heard timing parts can be expensive. What is the likelihood that this could be the pulley? Is there a way to tell?

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Old 07-11-2013, 02:08 PM   #5
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2003 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: 03 Saturn Vue Timing noise?

I laughed to avoid crying- when I opened the hood when the tow truck driver got there and saw that my engine was missing many "pieces". All of which were placed in the back. This includes, serpentine belt, air filter, airfilterhousing, airfilter (hose?) wheel well guard, and many other pieces. Oh, and a bill left for me.

I am also suspecting the need to replace the crankshaft front oil seal- that appears to be where the oil leak is coming from (new leak only a few weeks old)
I am trying to determine if its the timing belt tensioner, or the timing belt guide pulley.

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Old 07-12-2013, 03:47 AM   #6
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: 03 Saturn Vue Timing noise?

While its not good to run 1.5 qts low on oil, this alone cannot be the sole reason for your problems. With access to all the info members have posted, search through threads for pictures showing timing references when the timing cover is removed. A timing belt is used for V6 engines. No timing chain. Are you aware that engines use an accessory drive belt, commonly called a serpentine belt and a timing belt? The serp belt can be seen on the passenger side of the engine. Timing belts are hidden behind a cover - the cover is behind the serp belt and only accessible when the serp belt and timing cover are removed.

The serpentine belt being left off isn't a problem. See below on belt routing. A partial reprint from the service manual;

If the accessory belt is being replaced, the right front engine mount must be removed. The engine must be supported upon removal of the engine mount.

DIY methods of supporting an engine would be to use a hydraulic jack and piece of 2x4 to support the engine as the engine mount is removed.

It would be wise to subscribe to alldata.diy for service manual information. Your local library may have free access to it. The accuracy of service manuals are better than Chiltons.

The only way to assess issues with either timing belt tensioner or timing belt pulley is after removing the timing cover to perform an initial visual inspection of belt timing and if belt removal is necessary for more troubleshooting of individual parts. Recommended replacement of timing belt, water pump, fuel filter is at 100k miles. While others have run their Vues beyond 100k miles without issues, any timing belt wear or damage may cause catastrophic engine damage and isn't worth the risk of delaying repairs.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg drive belt 1.jpg (197.4 KB, 16 views)
File Type: jpg drive belt 2.jpg (142.1 KB, 12 views)

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Old 07-12-2013, 06:08 AM   #7
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2004 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: 03 Saturn Vue Timing noise?

Quote:
Originally Posted by monaw81 View Post
Update- and more info.

I had the car towed home last night-
Its a V6- Manual - timing chain. I got it back after a couple weeks and sad to say- the parts taking off weren't put back on. I am now a bit irritated and I wont be hiring a mechanic ever again. That being said-
At the time the noise started- it also was apparently 1 1/2 quarts low in oil. Added that.
The noise is coming from inside the timing cover. Could be a pulley as the timing chain- according to the mechanic looked fine.
Did purchase a new serp belt- because that too looked a little worn so might as well put a new one on. Alternator tested fine.

I've been scouring my manual- I have my tools out I haven't had this car back from the mechanic in 3 1/2 weeks- so at this point I am patient. I can do this. I just don't want to start throwing parts at it as I have heard timing parts can be expensive. What is the likelihood that this could be the pulley? Is there a way to tell?
It cannot be a V6 with timing chain and manual. The only engine available with the manual was the 4 cyl and it has a chain. The V6 engines have belts

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Old 07-18-2013, 10:47 PM   #8
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Default Re: 03 Saturn Vue Timing noise?

2003 v6 has a timing belt not a chain this is a german engine there many things inside of the cover to make noise's water pump or bad pulleys and or timing could have jump slighty off timing the engine would run but makes alot of noise i work at saturn for 13 yrs as a tec some times the serpenteen belt comes apart and gets into the timing belt. they need tocheck the timing is set properly . warring emgine timing needs to set by someone that knows what they are doing..make sure you find if there are any oil leaks, these engines have bad valve cover leaks and also can have oil cooler leaks that leak oil into the coolant. note the only engine at this year that has a timing chain is the 2.2 L. note it has two chains timing and counter balance chains..

Last edited by rcamaro67; 07-18-2013 at 10:53 PM..

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Old 08-27-2013, 07:09 PM   #9
monaw81
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2003 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: 03 Saturn Vue Timing noise?

Ohhhhh yes, a bit of an update that's slightly embarrassing but I did learn lots.
Turns out- its a 2.2 4cyl. It does have a chain.
I followed the above advise- purchased a chilton and Haynes and I have been researching quite a bit.
I had a bad experience with 2 different mechanics- car is home and there she sits.
Update on the problem- removed the belt- sound is still there.
Timing chain looks fine-
Noise appears to come from something inside of the timing "area"
It's a horrible sound- I keep it plenty full of oil but I believe on my vacation I had somehow lost (due to what appears to be a crank seal)
Oil.
I haven't done much with this since. I've been focusing on learning about the parts in hopes that I can avoid any further mistakes. I love my car.
It's a great car.
I am curious if it could be the timing chain tensioner- that appears to be where the noise is coming from.
Had one mechanic shake his head and tell me he didn't know (this is the same mechanic who left my car in pieces).
Search continues... I appreciate everyone's ideas!! You are all fantastic!!

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Old 08-27-2013, 07:11 PM   #10
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2003 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: 03 Saturn Vue Timing noise?

Quote:
Originally Posted by rcamaro67 View Post
2003 v6 has a timing belt not a chain this is a german engine there many things inside of the cover to make noise's water pump or bad pulleys and or timing could have jump slighty off timing the engine would run but makes alot of noise i work at saturn for 13 yrs as a tec some times the serpenteen belt comes apart and gets into the timing belt. they need tocheck the timing is set properly . warring emgine timing needs to set by someone that knows what they are doing..make sure you find if there are any oil leaks, these engines have bad valve cover leaks and also can have oil cooler leaks that leak oil into the coolant. note the only engine at this year that has a timing chain is the 2.2 L. note it has two chains timing and counter balance chains..
Thank you! I will not attempt to replace the chain without having it done professionally or by someone who knows what you are doing- tht is above my level. I had a new oil leak but not from the valve cover- it appears to be the crank seal.

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Old 08-27-2013, 07:22 PM   #11
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2003 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: 03 Saturn Vue Timing noise?

The 2.2L 4 cyl engine in our cars was first offered in '00 in the Saturn L-Series sedan and wagon. Sometime in '03, there was an updated design. The early design of the engine had different (and inferior) chain guides and chain tensioner. All the Vues of '02 and some of the '03's left the factory with the bad design.
I suspect this may be your problem.
He is some extensive reading on the topic taken from the Saturn L-Series forum: http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=72096

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Old 08-27-2013, 07:35 PM   #12
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2003 VUE 2.2L
Default Re: 03 Saturn Vue Timing noise?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrw1621 View Post
The 2.2L 4 cyl engine in our cars was first offered in '00 in the Saturn L-Series sedan and wagon. Sometime in '03, there was an updated design. The early design of the engine had different (and inferior) chain guides and chain tensioner. All the Vues of '02 and some of the '03's left the factory with the bad design.
I suspect this may be your problem.
He is some extensive reading on the topic taken from the Saturn L-Series forum: http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=72096
I called the saturn line for recalls to have my vin number checked in order to determine if there were recalls- specifically for the timing chain- there were none- YET i suspect, like many google searches i have read- that this is the culprit. I suspect- and I havent driven this car since my original post (i am to afraid that it is the timing) that even though the chain looks good- the tensioner pulley went bad or is going bad. I was reading a few other posts that seemed an awful lot like mine.
It's been 2 months since this car has been on the road! I wish I could just take it to a shop but unfortunately there are a couple problems 1. I am new to this area- lots of small shops (normally the best kind) 2 I am a girl- this small detail has cost me about 1k in the last few months in attempted car repairs. I now have a bunch of new parts in my car which is sitting in the drive way- 3 shops I wouldn't recommend to enemies.
I think I am going to attempt to see what else i can discover in a bit. I did use a handy dandy stethescope which gave me the knowledge or idea that it is not coming from deep inside the engine- it does appear to be at this moment timing related. Now to figure out if i need to replace the pulley, chain, and anything else. I am afraid to skip over something and then do damage.

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Old 08-27-2013, 07:49 PM   #13
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Default Re: 03 Saturn Vue Timing noise?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jrw1621 View Post
He is some extensive reading on the topic taken from the Saturn L-Series forum: http://www.saturnfans.com/forums/showthread.php?t=72096
Thank you!!! studying this now!

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Old 10-18-2013, 08:44 PM   #14
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Default Re: 03 Saturn Vue Timing noise?

So- much to update. Help?

It's been a while- here's what's happened.
03 vue 2.2 4cyl- ecotech.
I replaced the timing tensioner. When I removed the valve cover you could see there was slack in my chain- tensioner had failed or started to.
I followed the procedures carefully- replaced the tensioner. Reconnected everything- recharged fuel system (forum post guide about re pressurizing)
When to start- and nothing.
Fuel
Fire
Compression.
Engine turns- no fire. Nothing.
Checked fuel pump- you can hear it engage- checked fuel line to see if pressure and then...
Compression check-
All cylinders- no measurable compression reading.
I am not sure how valves coulda bent? It started up fine prior to replacing the tensioner-? I never removed chain and made sure it was TDC.
Suggestions?
Swap engine? New head? Or set my once awesome car on fire and send it down the hill?

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