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Engine Noise

Old 01-14-2019, 09:50 AM
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Engine Noise

Iím trying to trace an engine noise and itís driving me nuts trying to find the source. Iíve had this same phenomenon on two 3-liter VQ engines and on the 4.0 VQ in my Frontier.Specifically, Iím getting a ~rattling~ noise coming from the engine bay when the engine is cold and while under load, such as when pulling out into traffic even under light/normal acceleration.It doesnít do it when idling and it doesnít do it as the engine warms.The noise sounds almost like pre-ignition ping, but itís not.This is much louder/more pronounced.It doesnít appear to be a heat shield or anything loose/vibrating.Again, it sounds similar to pre-ignition, but it isnít.No codes, etc.Any ideas? Talkinghorse1 (formerly Talkinghorse)
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Old 01-14-2019, 09:57 AM
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May be your timing chain guide. They make no or less noise when warm.
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Old 01-14-2019, 10:56 AM
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Belt tensioner ...
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Old 01-14-2019, 11:59 AM
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Chain tensioner.. Which year model do you have? Search on user CS_AR with the word tensioner in the keyword argument. You'll see the before and after videos.
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Old 01-14-2019, 12:48 PM
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It's either gonna be a belt pulley or timing chain tensioner. I've had both but only occasional rattling/ticking on cold starts but crashed the car soon after it started.

For checking bad pulleys you can watch them as the car is running and look for wobbling or take the belt off and see if one of them wiggles a good amount

They also have cheap $3 mechanics stethoscopes to find where noises are coming from

Last edited by Violator; 01-15-2019 at 05:45 AM.
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Old 01-14-2019, 05:52 PM
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TH - Here's the thread to the tensioner information with before and after videos. Need to know your year model to size the effort.
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Old 01-15-2019, 12:52 PM
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My chain makes a bit of a racket when it's cold. If I let it warm up for a minute or two it gets a lot better and then goes away pretty much completely when the engine is at temp. I even had the tensioner out at one point... argh.
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Old 01-15-2019, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Shrout1 View Post
My chain makes a bit of a racket when it's cold. If I let it warm up for a minute or two it gets a lot better and then goes away pretty much completely when the engine is at temp. I even had the tensioner out at one point... argh.
Same here. I have a 96. I took the tensioner apart. I stretched the spring a bit. I thought that might increase tension. This happened while I was replacing the water pump.

I let the engine run a few seconds to develop some oil pressure. Then I blip the gas to maybe 2k rpm
for an instant. Doing that gives increased.oil pressure. The rattle goes away faster if I do that.

Last edited by JvG; 01-15-2019 at 06:08 PM.
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Old 01-19-2019, 08:40 AM
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Thanks for the inputs...I experienced it on my '98 Maxima, '00 I-30, both with the 3.0 VQ engine and currently on my '06 Frontier with the 4.0 VQ. When the engine is cold and let's say I pull out into traffic from where it's sat all day at work, the engine will rattle like hell on acceleration...acceleration doesn't have to be heavy...light/medium acceleration will bring it on. When idling, even when cold, there's no abnormal noise. The noise goes away after the engine begins to warm up, maybe 1/4 mile down the road. All 3 of the cars began to do this when they had over 100k on them.
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Old 01-19-2019, 11:03 AM
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Belt tensioner ...
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Old 01-19-2019, 12:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Turbobink View Post
Belt tensioner ...
Serpentine belt tensioner or timing ~chain~ tensioner?
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Old 01-19-2019, 01:05 PM
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“Belt” tensioner ...

I may be wrong, but your symptoms are typical of a belt tensioner pulley bearing failure ... been there-done that.

A number of years ago I went so far as to have made a repair appointment with a Nissan specialty shop here in my area to do a $2,300 timing chain tensioner and guide replacement.

Just to be sure, I spent $56 on a new OE belt tensioner assembly and did the replacement.

Needless to say, I cancelled my appointment.

Again, I may be wrong, but it’s worth a try, right?
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Old 01-19-2019, 02:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Turbobink View Post
ďBeltĒ tensioner ...

I may be wrong, but your symptoms are typical of a belt tensioner pulley bearing failure ... been there-done that.

A number of years ago I went so far as to have made a repair appointment with a Nissan specialty shop here in my area to do a $2,300 timing chain tensioner and guide replacement.

Just to be sure, I spent $56 on a new OE belt tensioner assembly and did the replacement.

Needless to say, I cancelled my appointment.

Again, I may be wrong, but itís worth a try, right?
Definitely worth a try and will give it a shot before moving on to the timing chain tensioner . The engine/truck has 200k on it and the belt tensioner is original.
Thanks to all for your inputs
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Old 01-19-2019, 02:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Talkinghorse1 View Post
Definitely worth a try and will give it a shot before moving on to the timing chain tensioner . The engine/truck has 200k on it and the belt tensioner is original.
Thanks to all for your inputs
I replace the belt tensioner along with the belts whenever I buy a 4th gen. If you have a Nissan 4.0, there is a whole different set of issues with timing chain noise compared to a VQ 3.0.

Changing the chain tensioner on a (97-99) VQ 3.0 is not a bad job. For a 95-96 model, it is considerably more work.

Last edited by CS_AR; 01-19-2019 at 02:50 PM.
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Old 01-19-2019, 11:01 PM
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When you are coming off a stop or a slow gradually accelerating up in speeds, it would sound like a metal rattling knocking noise coming from the engine area. I have heard plenty of 3.5ls and my quest are doing this, it's most likely the lifters or rocker arms that are making this noise, it's more noticeable when you are low on oil or around the time to change your oil. I would start checking with the oil levels and if it's low fill it up and check again. I can hear my quest do this and i fill it up alittle over the fill the noise goes away and it gets quiet.
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Old 01-20-2019, 08:25 AM
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Originally Posted by vqmaxman View Post
When you are coming off a stop or a slow gradually accelerating up in speeds, it would sound like a metal rattling knocking noise coming from the engine area. I have heard plenty of 3.5ls and my quest are doing this, it's most likely the lifters or rocker arms that are making this noise, it's more noticeable when you are low on oil or around the time to change your oil. I would start checking with the oil levels and if it's low fill it up and check again. I can hear my quest do this and i fill it up alittle over the fill the noise goes away and it gets quiet.
Yes, the noise is as you say, but only when the engine is warming up, operating (not idling) under load. For example, I live on top of a little hill and to get out of my subdivision, I have to go down the hill and then back up another at very low speed as it's thru a neighborhood with speed bumps. The noise starts when I start going up the hill to exit the subdivision...there's a speed bump on the hill going up, and it rattles after I slow to roll over the speed bump, then accelerate gently to resume up the hill when the engine is under greater load. Same thing after it sits all day at work...I pull out of the parking lot on to the street and it rattles like hell on acceleration. Once the engine begins to warm and I'm on my way, the noise doesn't present itself. Being low on oil isn't it as none of the engines use/used a drop of oil. I fill the 4.0 with 5.5 qts and it stays on Full for the full duration of the oil change. Engines have always been well maintained...had to change valve cover gaskets on the Frontier last year and this is what the head looked like with 180k on it. No sludge/varnish or obvious wear. Think I'm going to try replacing the belt tensioner for kicks and see if it makes any difference. Thx

Last edited by Talkinghorse1; 01-20-2019 at 08:27 AM.
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Old 01-28-2019, 02:27 PM
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I get a similar rattling/metallic noise when accelerating harder. I only notice it when warmed up, as I take it easy when the engine is cold. 87 or 91 gas makes no difference.
It could be motor mounts.
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