Mechanics

ENGINE NOISE

1998 Saturn SL2 • 4 cylinder FWD Manual • 80,000 miles

Have a 1998 saturn sl2. It has the DOHC. Been dealing with noise problem for a while. I have a loud ticking/rattling sound coming from under the valve cover. More towards the left side while looking at the motor. One friend thinks it has to do with timing chain and one thinks it has to do with the lifters. There is no loss of power and it runs fine. So I think it can't be timing chain. We put some of that engine oil cleaning stuff in and it did quiet just a tad. I also did some research and read something about Saturn generation 1 lifters start to make noise around 70 - 80 thousand miles. I have 80. Any ideas? Thanks.
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JM
March 25, 2011.




The timing chain can still make noise and there won't be a power loss unless the timing chain were to jump a tooth. Pop off the valve cover and see if the chain is loose where it goes under the top timing chain guide. Let me know what you find.

Saturntech9
Mar 25, 2011.
I had to pull valve cover to replace gasket anyway. I want to figure this out before I put cover back on. Chain looks fine. It's tight and I don't see any obvious problems when I use a flashlight to look down at the chain. So what do you think?

Tiny
JM
Mar 25, 2011.
You can't tell by looking you have to grab the chain and see if it's loose on both side's and see if the chain is loose and slapping against the top guide.I would even turn the engine over by hand some and keep looking for a loose chain turn the engine some then stop and check the chain. When you put the valve cover back on don't forget to put a bead of silicone across where the front cover meet's the head on both side's of the front cover. If you don't it will leak oil pretty bad.

Saturntech9
Mar 25, 2011.
Appreciate help so far. I checked the chain. Nice and snug. Listened to some video's on Youtube with Saturn engine noise. The ones that say timing chain bad have a sawing or metallic slapping noise. That is not what I have. It is more of a rattling/heavy loud pinging noise from the left side of motor.(Looking at it) It sounds like it is in the area of timing chain but it also sounds like it could be coming from first 2 cylinders. The friend who thinks it is the lifters put some of the engine oil cleaning stuff in the motor a while back and it did quiet it a tad bit. His thinking was the holes in the lifters were clogged and thats where the noise was coming from. I have no problem fixing this thing but in order to change timing chain you have pull half the car apart. I want to know for sure before doing that. Also none of the indicators for a bad timing chain are present. Read this and see if this helps you at all. Thanks again.

Tiny
JM
Mar 25, 2011.
I wouldn't do anything with the chain if it seems tight. To replace the timing chain you only have to remove the front cover valve cover crankshaft pulley really easy. You could have some lifters just not pumping up the problem is it's a noise and i'm not there to hear it.A lifter would be a ticking noise.

Saturntech9
Mar 25, 2011.
Sounds like we are at an empass. I will just ask a few more things and I will make a decision. The chain seems tight. Are there any other things to check to rule the chain in or out? My book says you have to take the bottom motor mount off and tilt front of engine up to change timing. True or false? For the lifters. Any checks for that to rule in or out? I read somewhere there is a tool you can use to hold the cam/gear so you don't have to pull timing chain cover. True or false? Last thing. From what I have told you what do you think is more probably wrong - timing chain or lifters? Or should I just put the valve cover back on and leave it go for now. On the silicone issue, are you talking about front of motor (left side) on the 2 corners of the cover. Thanks for everything and I will get going on it. Thanks, Joe.

Tiny
JM
Mar 25, 2011.
As far as ruling the timing chain goes I listen for a saw sound like it's cutting metal.I have heard a taping noise's also and I have found the chain loose and slapping the top guide.I have even seen the chain break those top guide's off even. You would put a floor jack under the oil pan with a piece of wood remove the top engine mount drive belt idler pulley water pump pulley crank pulley etc. The lower engine mount and the engine mount bracket then you jack up the engine to get better access. As far as the lifter's goes you just have to listen and narrow the noise down to the lifter's. Yes there is a cam fixture tool to hold the cams in place so you don't have to remove the chain. If your facing the engine your left side those two corners get silicone across where the front cover meets the the head. How loud is the noise your hearing?

Saturntech9
Mar 25, 2011.
It is pretty loud. I will tell you what. It actually sounds like my neighbor's diesel pick up truck. A diesel to me is a little softer than my sound. My Saturn sounds like a diesel but a little harder sound if you get what I am saying. A diesel pickup sound is about the closest explanation I can give you without you actually hearing it. There you go. Does that help?

Tiny
JM
Mar 25, 2011.
Wow that is loud so is there oil getting up to the top of the head?Do you see any damage on the head any thing look out of the ordinary?Does the oil on the head look all sludged up?
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Saturntech9
Mar 25, 2011.
I looked at everything last night. The cams don't look worn. The lifters don't look messed up onthe"outside". The cams don't shimy at all (no end play). The timing chain is tight on top of the 2 gears. The friend who thinks that it is the lifters noticed that there was a lot of this foamy yellowish stuff in the pvc valve. That's one reason he put the engine oil cleaner in. He said that it made him think that the holes were clogged and the lifters on 2 of the cylinders were damaged for lack of oil and that is why the noise is so loud. Make any sense? To me nothing on the top half of the motor looks bad. This is why it is driving me crazy. I have asked many people their opinion and I have gotton both - timing chain and lifters.

Tiny
JM
Mar 25, 2011.

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