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Old 01-26-2007, 04:58 AM   #1
cfg83
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Default Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

Hello -

(I drive a 1999 SW2, manual tranny)

I am getting a tapping sound that reaches the passenger compartment. At first I thought it was tapping valves because that's what the Saturn dealer said. Then I thought it was the Timing Chain because it shows up at idle and goes away when I get my RPMs up, and appears to be coming from the front passenger side of the engine.

Sooooooo, I bought a car stethoscope and have been trying to locate the rattle. I have been putting it on the engine cover and I don't hear the tapping sound. I put it where the Timing Chain is located and don't hear the tapping sound. I put it farther down the side of the engine on the Timing Chain side, near the drive belt, and I still don't hear the tapping.

Where I do hear the tapping is when I put the stethoscope on the frame of the car. This makes me think that it is just a "loose plate" somewhere in the engine bay. Orrrrrr, the frame, in some magic way, is isolating some internal engine sound that I can't hear over the other engine sounds and is transmitting it into the passenger compartment.

I finally got a clean recording of the sound (it's duller in the passenger compartment) :

http://home.earthlink.net/~cfg83/sat...ng_me_nuts.wav

I put the stethoscope on the frame part that has the "Saturn Power Module" sticker. I then put the recording microphone up to one of the stethoscope earbuds and isolated it with a rubber grommet cover, which kept the engine noise from overcoming the tapping noise. As I was recording, I pushed on the throttle body. You will hear the ticking noise momentarily subside and then come right back.

It's not always this bad, but it's more prevalent in the cold. These days it's slowly getting worse. It's like the Saturn version of Chinese Water Torture !!!!!!

What do your well-trained Saturn ears think?

Thanks!

CarloSW2
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Old 01-26-2007, 06:28 AM   #2
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

Besides hearing the rest of the drivechain running... you say it sounds like it's coming from the passenger side of the frame? Considering what I hear in that recording you made (listened to it several times over)you might need to look a little lower. Bearings are running (most of what is heard) but a rattle down low on the passenger side? Could be several things.. alternator, to start with. Gotta remember that everyting runs on that side on these. You leaking fluids? Steering feel ok? Could be any one of those.
Take or leave it as you will... but I would have to say one of the accesories would be the sound, hence the 'transmitted' sound to the frame. Oh! And speaking of that... don't forget the tensioner for the belt... that one just loves to make noise!
Don't know if this helped.. I hope it might have.
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Old 01-26-2007, 08:13 AM   #3
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

Listen to this and see if it confuses you more

http://smg.photobucket.com/albums/v1...attlechain.flv

Valves should only tap when the lifters bleed down because:

-- the car hasn't been run in months
-- the car is 3 quarts low on oil
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Old 01-26-2007, 08:14 AM   #4
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

Take off the serpentine belt and run it briefly, just long enough to establish whether the sound is there without the belt. If it's not then, you know it's a belt driven device. Tensioners and idler pulleys are the usual suspects but, it could be any belt driven device.
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Old 01-26-2007, 03:25 PM   #5
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

Hello -

GOT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was a loose headlight (adjustment?) bolt on the front passenger side :

http://www.saturnfans.com/photos/sho...hp?photo=34279

Sir Trews -

I did what you said to make sure it wasn't one of the pulleys. I was betting it was the tensioner pulley but it wasn't.

eljefino -

I was trolling to find the solution to this problem last week and had already listened to this sound. It was close, but not quite right.

BarnOwl -

If I hadn't found it, I was going to remove the serpentine belt next.

The key was the stethoscope. I learned from all you saturnfans that this is invaluable and you're right. You can't isolate the source of a noise without it (too much ambient engine noise in the way).

This has been bugging me for over a YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tappy valves, timing chains, loose pulleys!?!?!?!?!?!!?!?

FINALLY!!!!

(a 3 smile success story)

CarloSW2
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Old 01-26-2007, 04:14 PM   #6
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

That's funny, I had the same headlight loosen up on my 98 (same style). I take it you turned it so the bottom of the headlight is 1/4 inch from the top of the bumper cover? I always thought 2nd gen saturns had the worst headlights but it could be their aim has shifted. My 98 now aims great.

My cutlass ciera used to make a "teeth chattering" noise when it was cold, turns out the front license plate was vibrating at a harmonic frequency when the thing idled.
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Old 01-26-2007, 05:03 PM   #7
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by eljefino View Post
Valves should only tap when the lifters bleed down because:

-- the car hasn't been run in months
-- the car is 3 quarts low on oil
How about a few seconds of ticking when a saturn that is not low on oil is first started after sitting overnight? I always figured that was normal.
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Old 01-26-2007, 05:18 PM   #8
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

eljefino -

Quote:
Originally Posted by eljefino View Post
That's funny, I had the same headlight loosen up on my 98 (same style). I take it you turned it so the bottom of the headlight is 1/4 inch from the top of the bumper cover? I always thought 2nd gen saturns had the worst headlights but it could be their aim has shifted. My 98 now aims great.

My cutlass ciera used to make a "teeth chattering" noise when it was cold, turns out the front license plate was vibrating at a harmonic frequency when the thing idled.
Right now I have just ziptied the screw to keep it from moving. I am going to adjust it tomorrow at my non-Saturn mechanic. This thing has been the "impending doom" for me for a long time. The timing chain was the closest description to the problem that I could find on saturnfans, but the stethoscope ruled that out. All I could hear from the timing chain was a swishing sound, so I figure that is the oil sloshing around. I switched to heavy dino oil to try to get rid of the sound (125K miles on this car). Now I am going to slowly switch back to lighter oil for MPG reasons.

The "tappy valves" was originally the prognosis of the Saturn techs (of the now defunct Saturn of Monrovia). They said I had run my oil low. This is possible because I had recently switched from a "normal" 15+ mile street commute to a 35+ mile freeway commute, so I was being harder on the engine.

I didn't want to post until I had the clean recording. That took about 3 or 4 recordings until I could hear a clean tap and figure out how to isolate the sound. You don't know how many times I have pulled into parking lots, popped the trunk with the engine running, and used my "Dr. Kilder" car stethoscope. I should have gotten a white doctor's coat and a car-sized tongue depressor and asked the car to say "Ahhhh".

Harmonic frequency is right!

Thanks Again,

CarloSW2

Last edited by cfg83; 01-26-2007 at 05:20 PM. Reason: better description of the timing chain sound.
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Old 01-26-2007, 05:24 PM   #9
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

Titanium48 -

Quote:
Originally Posted by Titanium48 View Post
How about a few seconds of ticking when a saturn that is not low on oil is first started after sitting overnight? I always figured that was normal.
That is one of the things that misled me. Sometimes the tapping sound would "go away" on it's own. I would notice it alot when the engine was stone cold, but I think it finally got loose enough so that I could hear it all the time and isolate it better. If I had the stethoscope from the start, I would have found the problem a long time ago.

I think I do have the "early ticking" when it is really cold, so that made things more confusing.

CarloSW2
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Old 01-26-2007, 05:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

haha glad you found the problem. I just found this thread and was going to say its NOT the timing chain at all. If its only at idle, its not the timing chain because it would growl at ANY engine speed

and LOL at the car-sized air-dam compressor
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Old 01-26-2007, 11:36 PM   #11
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

Yeah I have the same problem on my 99. Apparently its a spring in the adjusters or something like that. A lot of Saturns come in to my work with that problem on the passenger side with the headlights. Mine is so bad that you can see the light shaking when youre parked in front of a reflective surface.
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Old 01-27-2007, 03:09 AM   #12
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

Those shaky lights are WICKED annoying to oncoming drivers (to the point of being a hazard). Good thing you nailed it, cfg.
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Old 01-27-2007, 10:30 PM   #13
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

Quote:
Originally Posted by madpogue View Post
Those shaky lights are WICKED annoying to oncoming drivers (to the point of being a hazard). Good thing you nailed it, cfg.
lol, you say "wicked" in WI too? I thought it was a Boston thing. sorry to see this is more widespread that I thought.

gotta go take a wicked pissa
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Old 01-27-2007, 10:51 PM   #14
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

Quote:
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lol, you say "wicked" in WI too? I thought it was a Boston thing. sorry to see this is more widespread that I thought.

gotta go take a wicked pissa
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Old 02-20-2007, 11:46 AM   #15
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

so all in all u guys mean to tell me its the Headlights that are making that sound...b/c i got the same thing happin..
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Old 02-20-2007, 12:01 PM   #16
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

Quote:
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so all in all u guys mean to tell me its the Headlights that are making that sound...b/c i got the same thing happin..
There are lots of things that can tick or tap on a car. If it's only at start up, a cheap oil filter comes to mind. Timing chain, rod bearings, lifters, just about any belt driven device, loose lots of things, etc. can all make a tapping sound. You just have to isolate it.
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Old 03-04-2007, 01:49 PM   #17
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Default Re: Tapping Valves or Timing Chain or ?!?!?!?!?

ARGH!! I think I have the same problem - Did yours by chance do it EVER while in park or only in Reverse and Drive? Did it sound like Metal on Metal?
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