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Old 08-29-2007, 08:39 PM   #1
mk43
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1992 SL2
Default Rattling Noise When In Gear

A couple of weeks ago I started getting a slight rattling noise from under the hood when stopped or creeping and in gear: reverse or drive (in other words, under load at low rpm). It doesn't do it when in park or neutral (so when I stop at lights I tend to just bump it into neutral). I hadn't actually checked out the noise until today, because someone has to have the car in gear (I suppose I could have used the e-brake, but whatever). My dad suspected the idler pulley, so I replaced that with the pulley off the 92 engine, but that made no difference. The noise could be coming from a pulley, or something pulley-driven, or it could be a little closer to the center. I am pretty sure it's on the passenger side, though.

The next suspect is the alternator. I haven't noticed any electrical problems, but it was suggested by my dad and by the guys at Advance, so it's worth looking into. Tomorrow I'll pull the belt off again and run it for a few seconds to see if the rattle stops, and that will be a big hint. The rattle has gotten worse since it first started. I can feel the vibrations from it a little in the car. It completely goes away once the car starts moving more than a few mph. I was just wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience and if so what the cause was, or just suggestions.

Thanks

...
92 SL2 auto - 93 engine/transmission

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Old 08-29-2007, 09:00 PM   #2
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

Have you checked the serpentine belt tensioner?

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Old 08-29-2007, 09:03 PM   #3
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

There didn't seem to be any problem with the tensioner, the one off the other engine is junk. I'm not going to replace it for no reason, but I'll look into it tomorrow after I run it with the belt off, if it is in fact coming from a pulley.

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Old 08-30-2007, 02:39 AM   #4
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

Have you checked your engine mounts? If it does not do it in P or N, then I would think it must have something to do with the motor being torqued and nothing to do with the serpentine belt, pulleys or accessories. Does it happen in park if the engine is rev'ed You may want to check the exhaust system by going to the back and grabbing the tail pipe with the car in drive and see if you can stop it. Maybe one of the exhaust flanges is loose or the muffler strap is broken. Another possibility is a bad or loose dogbone mount.

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Old 08-30-2007, 07:40 AM   #5
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

Do a visual check of the engine mounts, especially the top engine mount, before you take the trouble to pull the belt. If there is a large gap (you can fit your fingers through) under the top strap or the rubber has major cracking, the mount is probably shot.

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Old 08-30-2007, 09:13 AM   #6
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

Quote:
Originally Posted by DonP View Post
Do a visual check of the engine mounts, especially the top engine mount, before you take the trouble to pull the belt. If there is a large gap (you can fit your fingers through) under the top strap or the rubber has major cracking, the mount is probably shot.
You took the words right out of my mouth.

Do run the car with the belt off to see if it goes away. Also check for any parts of the exhaust that may be rattling but, I think you're going to find it's the mount.

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Old 08-30-2007, 10:09 AM   #7
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

Two mounts were replaced with junkyard "newer" mounts, but not the upper mount. When I swapped the idler I sort of checked it over, but wasn't really sure what I was looking for. There was slight cracking, but nothing major. The gap was probably more than 2mm, but that was when it was out of the car. The exhaust should be fine, it was redone from the cat back with factory spec about a year ago, and about 6 months ago after the engine swap the downpipe was reattached. It shouldn't be loose, and doesn't sound like exhaust rattling. I'll look at the mount again and run it with the belt off, and come back with much more useful information, maybe even the answer.

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Old 08-30-2007, 12:07 PM   #8
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

Well I unbolted the coolant reservoir to take a look at the upper mount. The top part of the upside-down U seemed to have no gap at all. Like this:



Sweet photoshop skills, huh? Paint wasn't working. I do marginally better in that. Lol.

Anyway, I don't think that's good. However...I took the belt off, and ran it, and the rattling was completely gone. Hmmm... I put the belt back on, tightened a couple loose mounting bolts on the power steering pump, and checked every nut and bolt I could find (I still think it's coming from the back half, meaning the tensioner, the power steering, or the alternator). There was one nut towards the bottom of the alternator that I checked, and it was tight. I couldn't find any other bolts. I'll need to look at a diagram.

So... Noise went away with the belt off, seems to be coming from the back half. (By the way, I do have an extra alternator, but it came off the engine that ran like crap and shifted weird. I think I might go ahead and get that tested, just to know if it's good or not. I'm thinking what I need to do is tighten some bolts on the current alt.) What do you guys think?

(I also checked the exhaust, which I now know isn't the problem, before I took the belt off, it's solid. )

...
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Old 08-30-2007, 01:31 PM   #9
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

9 times out of 10 it'll be the idler pulley or the tensioner. You might be able to feel it if you turn them by hand.

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Old 08-30-2007, 01:51 PM   #10
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

Well I took a drive to Advance to get my spare alternator checked, just to know if it's even good - turns out it's not. The rattling was still there, but it seemed slightly better. It was more like how it was when it first started. I don't know if it's just because the engine never warmed up all the way allowing the idle to drop down to 600 rpm or if I was imagining it, or if the ps pump was loose. I did a little more tightening when I got back, but stopped. I could tell whether the bolt I was tightening on the pump was loose or the hole was crossthreaded. I'm letting it cool off a bit before I do anything else because it's an iron bolt going into aluminum. I might end up replacing the tensioner, but I'd like to try tightening down the alternator and power steering pump first, since that doesn't require buying something I don't need.

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Old 08-30-2007, 02:06 PM   #11
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

How did the shafts on the alternator and PS Pump feel with the belt off?
I assume you have ruled out the water pump.

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Old 08-30-2007, 02:10 PM   #12
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

I checked the tensioner pulley, there does seem to be some play in it that I didn't notice when the belt was on. I'll probably replace that next. That bolt holding the power steering pump - snapped. Yay. It seems that the part of it still in there is holding it on tight, though...so it's not a big deal. Unless the power steering pump has to come off sometime, then it's just a PITA.

I'll get around to buying the tensioner in a few days. I'm thinking about 75% chance that's it.

...
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Old 08-31-2007, 01:35 AM   #13
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

Well...the rattling is definitely worse now. It didn't seem to be any worse than before when I went to Advance, but after I got back and snapped that bolt on the power steering pump...it's worse. I can't think of any other possibility.

Idler was replaced, noise stayed.

Tensioner seems okay, and I couldn't have made it worse by using the tensioner two more times.

Alternator feels solid, works good.

Power steering pump...a bit of play in the pulley, snapped off the bolt that is farthest forward, and it seemed to get worse right after that.

I don't think I'll be replacing the tensioner. I think I'll be taking the power steering pump off (and I think I still have the pump from the other engine) I hope I can get the pump off without pulling that piece of bolt out first. I *think* the hole through the piece attached to the pump is NOT threaded, though. That means I should just have a piece of bolt sticking out of my block, and be able to pull that right out. We'll see.

I guess that's one way to figure out what's rattling....snap a bolt and make it worse. Now it actually rattles in neutral/park a little bit, in addition to the bad rattle in gear!

...
92 SL2 auto - 93 engine/transmission

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Old 08-31-2007, 02:09 AM   #14
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

You do know there are several PS pump mounting bolts that are only accessible thru the holes of the PS pulley, right?

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Old 08-31-2007, 10:52 AM   #15
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

Yeah, I broke one of them.

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Old 09-01-2007, 09:31 AM   #16
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

My 2000 SW1 is doing the same thing. It only rattles when in drive or reverse at low rpm's. I haven't checked anything on mine yet, but it sounds like one of those flimsy heat shields has came loose again. I drive alot of gravel roads and the aluminum shields rip and tear around where they are riveted to the floor pan. Might check those before you spend any more money. Good Luck!

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Old 09-01-2007, 12:09 PM   #17
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

Are you talking about a heat shield on the exhaust? When I removed my belt, the rattling was gone. That kind of narrowed it down for me. I now know that before the car was mine, the lower-rear bolt behind the pulley of the power steering pump had somehow back out...and you can see where the pulley was scraping/colliding with the bolt. The bolt was replaced, but now (~8 months later), when I was checking for loose bolts on the pump, I discovered that one was completely missing. I found this a little scary because it would've had to get snapped off, because there isn't enough room for it to wiggle out behind the pulley. I replaced that bolt and the one I broke, and the vibration/rattling is back to how it was a few days ago (before I made it worse).

The next thing I'm going to do is replace the power steering pump on my car with the one off the '92 engine. That one didn't have any weird catastrophic bolt failure. For now, my PS pump bolts are in with blue threadlocker. I was going to swap the pump yesterday, but I have no idea how to get that fitting off the metal line. The only way to get to it is through the hole in the pulley right? Anyone have any tips for this?

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Old 09-01-2007, 01:53 PM   #18
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

I have a similar issue with my 2001 SL2. It makes a rattling noise from the passenger side at 1,000 rpm. Smooth as silk at higher speeds.

I took it to a mechanic that suggested it was a worn bearing, which it wasn't, then suggested a mount, which it wasn't. Finally, after all that he said he doesn't think it's anything to worry about. Well, I don't like to ignore my car making sounds it isn't supposed to.

I'm interested to know what it turns out to be with yours.

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Old 09-01-2007, 05:42 PM   #19
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

I also have a similar issue with a 97 SL1. The top motor mount seems fine. I know the bottom one on the tire side probably needs replacing, but isn't worse than the one on my other car, which doesn't do it.

I'm figuring it not a motor mount but a transmission mount. The neutral smooth out seems to suggest that when the transmission is in gear, load, at low rpm's that it's engaging the transmission. Thus making the sound.

I'm going to take a look at mine on Monday, holiday pay haha... I didn't see it but did you take a look at that mount? For me though it's not like a rattling but more a loud vibration/shaking at around 600-700rpms. At 1000 it goes away.

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Old 09-01-2007, 07:59 PM   #20
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Default Re: Rattling Noise When In Gear

Well, I swapped out the pump today. I made a sort of franken-pump using the reservoir that was on the car with a different pump/pulley, since my spare had a crack in it. The rattling seems like it might have gotten slightly better, but that doesn't seem to have been the problem. I guess the next place to look will be the tensioner.

To summarize:
Vibration at low rpm while in gear
Comes from passenger side, rear of engine
Noise/vibration is gone with the belt off

That leaves alternator, power steering, idler, tensioner as likely causes.

I swapped out the idler pulley and power steering pump, and I don't think it's the alternator. Next I'll replace the tensioner. That I'll have to buy new because my spare is worse. I think my upper engine mount is shot, but the rattling stopped when the belt was off, so... that doesn't seem to be the cause. I don't know.

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