Saturn engine noise

Tiny
JM
  • 1998 SATURN SL2
  • 4 CYL
  • 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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Friday, March 25th, 2011 AT 2:20 AM

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Tiny
SATURNTECH9
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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.

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Friday, March 25th, 2011 AT 3:52 AM
Tiny
JM
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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?

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Friday, March 25th, 2011 AT 3:41 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
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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.

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Friday, March 25th, 2011 AT 5:04 PM
Tiny
JM
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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.

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Friday, March 25th, 2011 AT 6:12 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
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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.

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Friday, March 25th, 2011 AT 6:23 PM
Tiny
JM
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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.

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Friday, March 25th, 2011 AT 6:41 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
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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?

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Friday, March 25th, 2011 AT 7:00 PM
Tiny
JM
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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?

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Friday, March 25th, 2011 AT 8:23 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
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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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Friday, March 25th, 2011 AT 8:28 PM
Tiny
JM
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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.

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Friday, March 25th, 2011 AT 8:46 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
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You have to check the side's of the chain too not just the top and turn the engine by hand and then check it like I told you. That stuff your friend saw in the pcv is common I have seen it on a lot of saturn pcv's doesn't mean it has clogged oil port's. That's pretty rare I have seen some pretty sludgy head's and the oil port's still weren't clogged. As loud as the noise is it shouldn't be hard to find if you know which two cylinder's are making the noise you just have to dig in and see whats bad. The lifter's should spin freely in the head here is that tool that allows you remove the cams without taking the chain off.

Kent-Moore-SA-9122E-Camshaft-Sprocket-Fixture-GM-1-9L

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Friday, March 25th, 2011 AT 9:17 PM
Tiny
JM
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One more thing and I will let you off the hook. Ha-Ha. Thanks for your time. Do appreciate it. Do you know the actual real name of the tool and do you know if it is something you can rent like at Autozone or some other place like that? If you don't mind can I get back to you if I find anything else while I am digging into this? Thanks again and have a good weekend. Later. Joe.

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Friday, March 25th, 2011 AT 9:25 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
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It's called a camshaft fixture holding tool it's a factory tool auto zone or anywhere else won't have it to rent. It's the tool kent moore made for the saturn dealers to repair the engine's.A new one is over 500 so that used one is a good deal. You can get back to me I will be here let me know what you find.

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Friday, March 25th, 2011 AT 9:38 PM
Tiny
JM
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Hey, have some new info. Everybody online I have checked with have told me to start and run the car while I have the cover off to find what the problem is. Bad move. As I thought, oil from the chain spinning went everywhere. But after that I noticed that the chain is loose on one side. So I guess it is the timing chain. Been a while since I did any major engine work. The only thing that makes me nervous about this whole thing is lining everything up right. Any tips on lining things up right or any tricks of the trade to make sure it is all cool when putting things back? Also how can I stick my finger over the sparkplug hole for TDC on #1 when I can't get my finger down that big long hole? Is #1 cylinder on 98 Saturn sl2 1.9l DOHC 1st from the left while looking at the motor? Thanks again. I might get back to you when I go to set the motor up for the procedure.

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Monday, March 28th, 2011 AT 3:20 PM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
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Yeah I have started those engines with the valve cover off pretty messy with the chain slinging oil. Setting the chain up is a piece of cake. Had a feeling it was the chain when you said the noise was loud.I posted the instructions on how to install the chain. You use 3/16" drill bit's to make sure the cam sprocket's are lined up in the little holes you put the bit thru the cam sprocket hole and then into the hole in the head. The crank sprocket has a mark on it you line up with the line on the block that is top dead center. Then there are colored links on the chain the cam sprockets have dots that the colored links line up with and the two colored links side by side go at the bottom of the crank sprocket. What I do is line all the marks up before removing the chain if your going to replace the sprockets too then make sure the crank sprocket is at least 90 degree's past tdc before moving or trying to change those sprocket's.

1. Assemble the timing chain, sprockets, guides and tensioners:

1. Verify that the crankshaft is positioned at 90 degrees past TDC. The crankshaft keyway and sprocket must be aligned with the cylinder block main bearing cap split line (as viewed from the accessory drive end) to prevent piston and valve damage.

NOTICE: Do not torque the camshaft retaining bolts against the 3/16 in. Timing pins as it will damage the cylinder head.

2. Install the camshaft timing gears, retaining bolts and washers. The letters FRT on the sprockets must face forward, away from the cylinder head. Wrench flats 21 mm (7/8 in.) Are provided to hold the camshafts from rotating while torquing the bolts.

3. Bring the camshafts up to number one TDC by rotating the camshaft and sprocket until the timing pins (4.77 mm [3/16 in.] Drill) can be installed. Wrench flats are installed on the camshafts to assist with rotation.

4. Rotate the crankshaft counterclockwise (viewed from accessory drive end) until number one cylinder is TDC. The crankshaft sprocket timing mark will align with cylinder block timing mark.

CAUTION: THE CAMSHAFTS CAN ROTATE DURING TIMING CHAIN INSTALLATION WHEN THE TIMING PINS (4.77 mm [3/16 IN.] DRILL) HAVE NOT BEEN INSTALLED. DO NOT PLACE FINGERS BETWEEN CAMSHAFT SPROCKETS AND CHAIN DURING TIMING CHAIN INSTALLATION.

NOTICE: Two separated silver link plates align the pip marks on the camshaft sprockets and another two paired link plates align the crankshaft sprocket tooth that is located at the six o'clock position. The pip mark on the crankshaft sprocket must be aligned with the timing mark on the cylinder block.

5. Place the timing chain over the camshaft sprockets and under the crankshaft sprocket.

NOTICE: Excess slack in the chain must be kept to the chain tensioner side (movable guide) of the cylinder block when installing timing chain or the camshaft sprockets will not be correctly timed to the crankshaft sprocket.

Cam Timing Marks

6. Make sure the silver colored link plates are located over the pip mark on the cam sprockets only. The crankshaft sprocket tooth must be pointed directly downward at the 6 o'clock position between the two silver colored links. The pip mark on the crankshaft sprocket will be aligned with the timing mark on the cylinder block.

IMPORTANT: Alignment of both timing pin holes, crankshaft sprocket pip mark with cylinder block mark, colored links with camshaft and crankshaft sprockets must be correct to make sure the engine is properly timed.

7. Install the fixed guide.

IMPORTANT: The timing chain should be snug against the fixed guide.

8. Install the pivoting chain guide. Check for clearance between the block and head. Torque the bolt and make sure the guide pivots freely.

O Torque: 26 Nm (19 ft. Lbs.)

NOTICE: The camshafts must be positioned fully forward prior to bearing cap installation.

9. Install the two forward remaining camshaft bearing caps and timing chain guide.

10. Retract the tensioner plunger and pin the ratchet lever using a 3.18 mm (1/8 in. Or No. 31) drill. Install the chain tension and torque the two bolts. Remove the drill and allow the tensioner plunger to extend.

O Torque: 19 Nm (168 in. Lbs.)

11. Verify all timing marks for accuracy. Remove the camshaft timing pins.

2. Camshaft timing verification procedure with engine assembled (front cover on):

1. Remove cam cover.
2. Turn the crankshaft clockwise until the mark on the damper pulley aligns with the pip mark on the front cover.
3. Camshaft timing can be verified with the front cover installed and just the cam cover removed. Turn the crankshaft clockwise until the mark on the crankshaft damper/pulley aligns with the pip mark on the front cover. The camshaft sprocket timing pin holes will align with the timing holes in the cylinder head. Insert 4.77 mm (3/16 in.) Drills through the camshaft gears into the cylinder heads. If the timing pins cannot be installed, rotate the crankshaft 360 degrees clockwise. If the pins cannot be inserted and rotating the crankshaft and camshafts slightly (one or two degrees maximum) will not allow pins to be installed, the camshafts are not timed.

IMPORTANT: It may be necessary to remove the right-hand road wheel and splash shield to observe timing marks on front cover and crankshaft vibration damper/pulley.

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Monday, March 28th, 2011 AT 3:57 PM
Tiny
JM
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I really appreciate everything you have done. Will shoot you another message if I get hung up but what you just wrote looks great. Thanks a lot. Joe.

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Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 AT 1:59 AM
Tiny
SATURNTECH9
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It's no problem it's pretty easy to change the timing chain let me know how it goes.

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Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 AT 6:55 AM
Tiny
JM
  • MEMBER

Sorry to bother you so soon. Forgot to ask 1 question before starting. The book says that you have to pull the motor mounts and jack the front of motor up to gain access to the cover. It also "suggests" that you take off the plastic wheel well. When I think about it you should only have to do one or the other to gain access. Which way is best or should you do both or do you have to do either. I really don't want to pull motor mounts if I don't have to. What is your experiance with setting this up. Thanks again and I will be starting as soon as you let me know what you think about the setting up of the motor. Take it easy. Later, Joe.

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Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 AT 3:32 PM
Tiny
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Just take off both plastic side panels not the wheel well to give access. You remove the top engine and the bottom one with a floor jack under the oil panel.I would also remove the lower U shaped engine bracket that has four bolts holding it on the engine block that will give you a little more room to remove the front cover. It's no big deal removing engine mount's if you don't you won't get that front cover off. Let me know how it goes.

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Tuesday, March 29th, 2011 AT 5:04 PM
Tiny
JM
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Hey, how is it going. Thinking about doing it this weekend but have a parts question for you. Do you have any preference on the brand of these timing parts or are they all about the same. Advance Auto has some brand named SA for $170. Got on Ebay and found some good deals. Someone with a 100% rating has a set of PCI brand for $63. There are some others that are selling Cloyes brand but they are a little steep too. There is also this one that I can't figure out exactly what it is but it is sold through Domestic Gaskets that is selling for $60 plus free shipping. So what do you think. I am sure there are more too. Is one better than the other or should I go for price. I have heard of PCI and Cloyes. I will get what I have to get but money is an issue and this is my secondary car. So let me know how you feel about this parts issue. Thanks again. Talk to you later. Joe.

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Friday, April 1st, 2011 AT 3:22 PM

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