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Old 01-06-2020, 12:18 AM   #1
can0fspam
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1999 SL2
Default Unknown engine noise when cold

I have a 1999 SL2 (auto swapped to mp2 manual), 189,000 mi.
It makes a constant ticking noise immediately upon cold startup and it doesn't go away until the temp needle starts rising. When warmed up, the engine sounds totally normal and the ticking is gone.

I've run the engine without a belt on it, and the ticking sounds exactly the same. I've also recently replaced the belt tensioner and alternator.
The noise depends only on engine temperature. Regardless of how long the car has sat (overnight versus a few hours), it will make the same sound if the engine's cold. On a hot restart, it doesn't do it.

Stepping on the gas seems to make the ticking stabilize for a second - it's loudest at the cold idle speed of 1200 RPM.

Oil pressure is good, oil is always topped off, fresh oil doesn't affect it, and no SES lights are thrown. I have owned the car for 7 months and it's been doing it the whole time.
The sound comes generally from the front of the motor however I've yet to find it with a stethoscope.

Here's a video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c79uOCu0QDY

Any leads or similar experiences? Thanks for all the advice as always.

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Old 01-06-2020, 12:33 AM   #2
billr
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Default Re: Unknown engine noise when cold

I can't really hear anything in that video, but my guess is an exhaust leak or looseness in an exhaust component that tightens up as the exhaust gets hot. Worst case is a crack in the manifold.

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Old 01-06-2020, 12:50 AM   #3
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2003 L-Series 3.0L Sedan
Default Re: Unknown engine noise when cold

Valve train noise? It might help to record a before (cold engine noise) and after (warm engine noise gone) video. I hear the noise at the beginning of the video and it sounds like lifters.

...
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Old 01-06-2020, 01:00 AM   #4
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1999 SL2
Default Re: Unknown engine noise when cold

Sorry about the audio quality. I will get better videos soon to show you what it sounds like cold versus hot.

Exhaust leak sounds possible as it would expand and contract to seal the leak when warmed up. I'll look for soot spots around the manifold or try to soapy water trick.

Valvetrain noise - I wouldn't be too surprised with the mileage on the car.
If the lifters have excessive clearance should I be able to rock them by hand with the valve cover off? I checked that recently and everything underneath the valve cover feels tight -- the chain is also very tight and barely flexible.

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Old 01-06-2020, 08:23 AM   #5
454cid
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Default Re: Unknown engine noise when cold

How about opening the hood?

I suspect it's the same noise my car makes... I thought maybe it's the timing chain, but I'm not sure that would go away.

...
2000 SL2 Automatic (back on the road) 17X,XXX miles.
1999 Chevy K3500

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Old 01-06-2020, 08:59 AM   #6
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Default Re: Unknown engine noise when cold

If its a lifter noise, which can go away as the motor heats up, I have stopped it completely on my older suburban (331K) by simply adding a pint of any kind of transmission fluid (or marvel mystery oil) in to the gas tank. I will quiet them down after a days of driving, and the clacking stops even when a cold start.

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