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Thread: Timing chain tensioner going bad? (I have the old style one wth?)

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2013-12-12 04:34:39
Timing chain tensioner going bad? (I have the old style one wth?)
Just before, I noticed that when my motor had warmed up, there was a metal on metal type of noise coming from the passenger side of the valve cover at idle. It's not TOO loud, but its loud enough that my g/f could hear it when I pointed it out with the hood popped. The sound is up towards the top.

It does NOT make the sound when it's cold or when I manually push on the throttle plate and rev it up after it's warmed up. The sound disappears but as soon as the RPM's settle to idle the sound comes back. The best way I can describe it is a rhythmic metal to metal sound, almost like a scraping. Unfortunately I didn't get a video of it because I was afraid something was wrong and wanted to visually inspect everything after I shut the car off (didn't want to do anymore damage in the event the tensioner was broken etc.)

I pulled the valve cover, everything looks good and I am about to do an oil change and look for any metal shavings or bits. One thing I DID notice though: after removal the tensioner was a bit difficult to retract to reach the holding pin (more than normal to me at least). Currently, the motor is running Mobil-1 10W-30 synthetic, changed about 3 months ago/1,000 miles. No hurry though as the car is garaged for the winter, so much salt out there it's nasty. In fact I only started it up earlier because I had just flushed the coolant and wanted to run it for a few minutes in the garage after.

Theory: my tensioner is going bad. When the motor is cold, the oil is thicker. When warmed up the oil thins at a threshold that allows the chain to make contact, but when the motor is revved up that "slack" temporarily disappears b/c stress is put on it. That is, if it is the chain/tensioner.

UPDATE: big thanks to bmexicang for letting me know that I have the old POS tensioner in my motor for some reason!! I will be getting the updated design, see if that makes a difference
Last edited by Storm88000 on 2013-12-12 at 10-43-15.
2013-12-12 04:46:47
Oh I forgot to add, although it's most likely unrelated I'm only mentioning it because the sound is coming from the same area; I just replaced the alternator. I visually inspected the belts, all are good, and applied some belt dressing. I am also running the G-Spec underdrive crank and water pump pulleys. No power steering or A/C.

Edit: regarding getting a new tensioner, I just noticed that Greg has two different tensioners for sale.

One is $70 and says for SR20 motors: http://gspec.com/p-6073-timing-chain-tensioner-sr20.aspx

One is $100 and says for N1 (SR) motors: http://gspec.com/p-6073-timing-chain-tensioner-sr20.aspx

Whats the deal with that? Here's a photo of mine, it does have a line on the back that looks like a "1" in some kind of chalk:

Last edited by Storm88000 on 2013-12-12 at 05-02-19.
2013-12-12 07:23:23
I have a oem one, the newer style with more finer teeth. I baught it and ran it for a month then I did a swap so I didn't use it very long. Lmk if ur interested
2013-12-12 07:29:10
The side to side play is meant to be there, the tensioner when installed and running tightens up with oil pressure and it prevents the side to side play. I would check ur oil, I went through a similar experience where I thought it was my tensioner and ended up being beginning symptoms of rod knock. If ur brings aren't to destroyed, ur crank is in good shape, and the rod is not all scratched up you might be able to salvage the motor by changing out rod bearings. I have 1 pair available as well. Oem for a Rr which runs the same crank and rod as a ve to my knowledge. Let me know. And good luck
2013-12-12 07:43:57
Hey thanks for the replies, I just walked in the door. Going to go thru the old oil right now with a magnet and see if I can find any metal.

As for rod knock, I've heard that and I don't think that this is it. That sound comes from more of the bottom of the motor and is well, a knocking sound, this you can hear kind of where the valve cover meets the head and its not a knock, its a scraping sound. When I put everything back together and if it still does it I will post a video of the sound.
Last edited by Storm88000 on 2013-12-12 at 07-55-10.
2013-12-12 07:48:03


Also, can you tell from this photo if mine is the newer style w/ the finer teeth?

edit: posted pics of it opened up down 2 posts
Last edited by Storm88000 on 2013-12-12 at 09-30-17.
2013-12-12 07:58:25
I can't tell, if it's a oem ve one it should be the newer style
2013-12-12 09:29:25
Couple pics with it opened up, can anyone tell from this photo if this is the updated or "better" one?


2013-12-12 10:09:03
That is NOT the newer one. Where did u get that motor, I was almost positive the ve 's came with the newer style tensioner
2013-12-12 10:14:27

Here u go. You have the one on the right, I have the one on the left. Notice your has less, larger teeth and is slightly shorter, where the newer (mine) is slightly longer and the teeth are finer and there are about twice as many.
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