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Slashie
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394 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I am getting ready to sell my car so I can get a nice SR20 powered car. Me and my friend decided to set the timing back to 10* BTDC, and while we are putting it in timing mode, we hear this clatter every once in a while. I wasn't sure what it was, but it was coming from under the valve cover. I never noticed it before. (I do drive around with my stereo on most of the time.)

We thought nothing of it and set the timing. I took it out to a back road out in the middle of nowhere to test it out and see if there was the usual loss of power in the top end. I stop the car to accelerate, and as I slow down, my engine sounded like a bolt had come loose in the engine and was banging around where the timing chain is. The chain is still turning with the cams, because the engine ran smooth, (so the timing chain didn't break), but I think the tensioners are broken. (Or the guides.)

Questions:
FIRST: Is there a difference in sound when the top or bottom tensioners go out or do you just have to get in and look?

SECOND: Is my car safe to drive, or will I push a valve into my piston? (If the chain jumps a tooth)


THIRD: I want to trade my car in, if this is a cheap fix, should I fix it before going to the dealership, or should I try to attempt to trade it in anyway?

FOURTH: Any advice?

Thanks guys.
 

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Wise Cracker
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stevja1 said:
I am getting ready to sell my car so I can get a nice SR20 powered car. Me and my friend decided to set the timing back to 10* BTDC, and while we are putting it in timing mode, we hear this clatter every once in a while. I wasn't sure what it was, but it was coming from under the valve cover. I never noticed it before. (I do drive around with my stereo on most of the time.)

We thought nothing of it and set the timing. I took it out to a back road out in the middle of nowhere to test it out and see if there was the usual loss of power in the top end. I stop the car to accelerate, and as I slow down, my engine sounded like a bolt had come loose in the engine and was banging around where the timing chain is. The chain is still turning with the cams, because the engine ran smooth, (so the timing chain didn't break), but I think the tensioners are broken. (Or the guides.)

Questions:
FIRST: Is there a difference in sound when the top or bottom tensioners go out or do you just have to get in and look?

SECOND: Is my car safe to drive, or will I push a valve into my piston? (If the chain jumps a tooth)


THIRD: I want to trade my car in, if this is a cheap fix, should I fix it before going to the dealership, or should I try to attempt to trade it in anyway?

FOURTH: Any advice?

Thanks guys.

How bad is it and is it constant? The upper tensioner is not too bad to install and would be the first thing I tried if it was noticable...
 

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are you sure you timed it correctly? a timing chain tensioner wouldn't make a worse sound after adjusting the timing.
 

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Slashie
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Discussion Starter #4
It's timed at 10* BTDC right now. (Maybe 11*.) I want to check it again, but I'm afraid to turn on the car.

In answer to Wes, yes, it is constant and very loud. I would think the chain was busted and flipping around in there if it weren't for the car still running. It hasn't skipped a tooth yet because the car still runs smooth, but im afraid to risk it.

I may have towing included on my insurance policy, I'm going to check this morning. Hopefully, I can get it towed to my mechanic and I can figure out what is going on before I go home from work today.
 

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you can always pull the valve cover and inspect the upper guide and tensioner yourself.
 

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Erin Go Bragh!
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stevja1 said:
It's timed at 10* BTDC right now. (Maybe 11*.) I want to check it again, but I'm afraid to turn on the car.

In answer to Wes, yes, it is constant and very loud. I would think the chain was busted and flipping around in there if it weren't for the car still running. It hasn't skipped a tooth yet because the car still runs smooth, but im afraid to risk it.

I may have towing included on my insurance policy, I'm going to check this morning. Hopefully, I can get it towed to my mechanic and I can figure out what is going on before I go home from work today.
My guides/tensioners wore out last spring. I was moving my car out of the driveway to make some room in front of the garage. I heard a click about a minute after i started the car (as i started to re-park, so i guess it was 'under load'). I didnt notice it cuz i turned the car off a minute later. However, when i tried to start the car the next day... nothing. Compression checks, fuel pump and regulator - you name it, it was checked. So i stripped the VC and got to the timing chains... they were fine. Guides were worn to sh*t, though. Plastic tensioners on a metal chain!
I checked here on the forum and it turns out that its actually a common problem, depending on the mileage (i was sittin at about 120k at the time).
It took me and my step-dad about 15 total hours throughout the course of a week (after work, school, etc) to get the job done. I think that the Nissan standard time is 12 labor hrs. for the job.
 

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I wouldn't risk running the engine. I would pull the valve covers and take a look. Even if you are trading it in- throw on new parts for the upper, if you run the engine and the gears are worn down it might skip a tooth or two and now your looking at more money but much more time to fix this problem. Good luck, hope it goes well.
 

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OT's E-Referee
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I know when I installed my JWT cams my worn out tensioner sounded alot worse than before and I did adjust the timing down a few degrees. As for the tensioners the upper is cake. However the lower is a real bitch especially if the motor is still in the car. Like everyone else has said, pull of the VC and take a look at the upper tensioner. It takes about 2 hours to do but that's just because of all the stuff you have to move to get to it. Plastic tensioners weren't the smartest idea of Nissan. I'm planning to design a whole new tensioner for the upper that will last the life of the motor but that won't be til closer to summer. I may venture to design one for the lower but probably not enough room down there. Anywho, I know on my car the upper went first and like I said it's not hard so you may be able to get away with just that. You can probably drive the car without problems but it is a risk. I know I probably heard mine for around 3-4 weeks before figuring out what it was and replacing it. Whether you'll be fine or not depends upon the condition of the gears.

Mitch
 

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Slashie
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394 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
sentra97gxe said:
I know when I installed my JWT cams my worn out tensioner sounded alot worse than before and I did adjust the timing down a few degrees. As for the tensioners the upper is cake. However the lower is a real bitch especially if the motor is still in the car. Like everyone else has said, pull of the VC and take a look at the upper tensioner. It takes about 2 hours to do but that's just because of all the stuff you have to move to get to it. Plastic tensioners weren't the smartest idea of Nissan. I'm planning to design a whole new tensioner for the upper that will last the life of the motor but that won't be til closer to summer. I may venture to design one for the lower but probably not enough room down there. Anywho, I know on my car the upper went first and like I said it's not hard so you may be able to get away with just that. You can probably drive the car without problems but it is a risk. I know I probably heard mine for around 3-4 weeks before figuring out what it was and replacing it. Whether you'll be fine or not depends upon the condition of the gears.

Mitch

I didn't drive it at all. I got it towed for $50. The dealer I bought the car from quoted me $600 dollars for a worst case scenario (replacing everything). They wont be able to work on it until Monday. If it turns out it is a lot more money than that, I'll just get a new motor. Maybe I could swap the tranny at the same time. Anyway... I'll let you know what happens.

I didn't pull the VC. I prolly should have, but I haven't been alone long enough with the car to do anything. Oh well. I'll post on Monday.
 

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$600 :eek: that's a good deal. i'd jump on that, considering a timing kit is a little more then half that. i was quoted around $1300 for my timing chain guide replacement, but that was from a dealership.
 

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Erin Go Bragh!
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sno said:
$600 :eek: that's a good deal. i'd jump on that, considering a timing kit is a little more then half that. i was quoted around $1300 for my timing chain guide replacement, but that was from a dealership.
Holy shite! I guess i'm lucky that my dad has the the neccessary tools. I fixed my guides myself and even changed the chains for under USD$300.
 

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Slashie
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Discussion Starter #12
If the cost to fix the car was in the $1300 dollar range, I think I'd just buy a new engine, or try and sell the car to a junk yard or something and take the cash in for a new one.

I'm a little scared that the mechanic quoted low so he'd get my business and that the price will go up dramatically once they get it taken apart....
 

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Wise Cracker
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stevja1 said:
If the cost to fix the car was in the $1300 dollar range, I think I'd just buy a new engine, or try and sell the car to a junk yard or something and take the cash in for a new one.

I'm a little scared that the mechanic quoted low so he'd get my business and that the price will go up dramatically once they get it taken apart....
I agree on the second point! I'd try and tie him down on the price before they begin the work...

Honestly I think you over-reacted in having it towed. Unless you have no resources to do ANY kind of mechanical work the upper tensioner is cake and would have been a cheap/easy place to start...
 

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wes said:
I agree on the second point! I'd try and tie him down on the price before they begin the work...

Honestly I think you over-reacted in having it towed. Unless you have no resources to do ANY kind of mechanical work the upper tensioner is cake and would have been a cheap/easy place to start...
I was thinking the same thing. Always best to look into it a little before going to a mechanic. I had my one car towed home but was considering having it just towed to a shop cuz it wouldn't start. I drove my other car for a few days and then checked it out to find it was just the screw holding the distributor rotor on had come out. I would have paid a mechanic over $50 to put a screw in. As for the price do as Wes said and try and lock in a maximum cost before he touches it so that he either brings the estimation to where it should honestly be or that you get the work done for a good price and don't get screwed out of money you didn't expect.

Mitch
 

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Slashie
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Discussion Starter #15
sentra97gxe said:
I was thinking the same thing. Always best to look into it a little before going to a mechanic. I had my one car towed home but was considering having it just towed to a shop cuz it wouldn't start. I drove my other car for a few days and then checked it out to find it was just the screw holding the distributor rotor on had come out. I would have paid a mechanic over $50 to put a screw in. As for the price do as Wes said and try and lock in a maximum cost before he touches it so that he either brings the estimation to where it should honestly be or that you get the work done for a good price and don't get screwed out of money you didn't expect.

Mitch
They are going to talk to me before they do anything. I was quoted $550 worst case scenario, which means they would replace the chain, guides, tensioners, and whatever gaskets required. It was another 25 dollars for oil and coolant. I rounded to 600 to include tax.

I don't remember if I mentioned before, but because I bought the car from these guys, it comes with lifetime cost on parts, and the labor rate is a lot lower than other places. They told me that's why the quote was so cheap.

I'm still really uneasy about this. I wish I had looked at it before I had it towed. The guy is going to check it out tomorrow and call me. I hope that it will be something cheap. I really don't want to drop any more money on the car. (Unless I can find some insane way to swap an SR20 into it.)
 

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Erin Go Bragh!
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stevja1 said:
I hope that it will be something cheap. I really don't want to drop any more money on the car. (Unless I can find some insane way to swap an SR20 into it.)
It looks as if you have no choice. It's better to have a running 1.6 than nothing at all, right? That is, unless you have some other daily driver to putt around in.
Its a good price to pay as far as parts, labor and warranties, if you ask me.
Keep us updated.
 

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Slashie
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Discussion Starter #17
DraftEm98 said:
It looks as if you have no choice. It's better to have a running 1.6 than nothing at all, right? That is, unless you have some other daily driver to putt around in.
Its a good price to pay as far as parts, labor and warranties, if you ask me.
Keep us updated.

In addition to the above crap in the title, and in the spirit of StrongBad (www.homestarrunner.com) I officially declare another official 'crap'.

I got word back from the mechanic. I swapped out the UR pully for the stock one, and I was in a hurry. I forgot to put tension in the belts, and tighten the idler pully. Anyway, one of the brackets was rattling around and making all of the noise. I should have checked it myself before I had it towed!!!!! ARGG!!

Anyway, grand total for this adventure - $130.78.

I will say that it beats the ever-living crap out of $600.

He checked the chain and said everything looks great.
 

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Erin Go Bragh!
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stevja1 said:
In addition to the above crap in the title, and in the spirit of StrongBad (www.homestarrunner.com) I officially declare another official 'crap'.

I got word back from the mechanic. I swapped out the UR pully for the stock one, and I was in a hurry. I forgot to put tension in the belts, and tighten the idler pully. Anyway, one of the brackets was rattling around and making all of the noise. I should have checked it myself before I had it towed!!!!! ARGG!!

Anyway, grand total for this adventure - $130.78.

I will say that it beats the ever-living crap out of $600.

He checked the chain and said everything looks great.
Thats friggin awesome! It makes me feel kinda warm and fuzzy inside when a fellow enthusiast gets hooked up like that... so, you still sellin some of your performance parts? :D
 

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Slashie
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Discussion Starter #19
DraftEm98 said:
Thats friggin awesome! It makes me feel kinda warm and fuzzy inside when a fellow enthusiast gets hooked up like that... so, you still sellin some of your performance parts? :D
Still sellin. I still want an SR20 powered car.... really bad. They go really fast around here and they are hard to find. Dealerships and stuff, (at least the two that I've tried), out of state don't take me seriously and don't reply to my emails.

I'll find one eventually. I'm half tempted to find somebody who will swap my engine for me. (If its around 3 grand.)

I'm definately releived though regarding this latest problem. I didn't feel like dropping $600 on my car this month....
 
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