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Discussion Starter #1
Hello there my dudes

My '89 GA16i seems to have some chain rattle problems. It basically rattles real bad after warming up. It used to be quiet months before, but even then I've been told that it sounds like some metaly noise, probably chain related, coming from the engine. But it was barely noticable so I didn't care about it much.

But lately it started rattling real bad. Even after a cold start it sounds a bit like an old tractor, but it's relatively quieter. But after warming up it definitely becomes chain rattle, you can hear the chain starting top hit the inside of the chain cover, louder and louder as the engine slowly warms up, until it becomes a constant noise.

The whole timing chain kit was replaced like 2 years ago by the previous owner, so shouldn't it still be in good condition? Isn't it too early for any part of it to fail? I suppose the chain or the guards shouldn't go bad only after 2 years, so maybe it's the tensioner that failed? I was thinking it may worth a shot to replace only that first and see if it fixes it, since as far as I know, you can replace that from the outside, without having to take the engine apart. It's like simply bolted onto the side of the engine? Can anyone confirm if that's true?

Also even if any of the parts failed, while is the rattle worse after warming up? I was also wondering if it may be simply oil related? Like maybe as the oil warms up and the tensioner gets blocked by some sludge or something? Or I also read a story where a tensioner weren't bolted on tight enough, so after warming up the warmer oil could leak over a bolt and therefore not go through the piston in the tensioner, or something like that.

Does any of these ideas make sense to anyone? Should maybe I simply try an oil change first, before I start ordering expensive stuff?
 

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NF Mod/Nissan Master Tech
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Since it's an oil fed tensioner, sludge or debris restricting oil flow to the tensioner can very well cause a chain rattle issue. So can low engine oil pressure. If fact, restriction of the oil to the tensioner in GA and KA engines was the main reason these engines would break the all-plastic tension-side timing guides on these engines, which Nissan addressed by updated, metal-backed plastic guides (it didn't really fix the main problem, but it did make the tension-side guides withstand a lot more abuse! What I used to do whenever doing a timing chain (or chains, if it was the DOHC versions) was remove the oil tensioner and oil filter. Then, I would spray carb cleaner into the oil tensioner port, followed by compressed air, until it blew clear out of the oil filter adapter. Once, on an U13 Altima with a KA24DE engine, I did that and it still rattled. I had to tear it apart, again, only this time I removed the main gear (which connects the upper to lower chain). Behind the gear where the bolt goes into the head there was heavy sludge built up, which apparently restricted the oil flow to the upper chain tensioner. After cleaning it all up and putting it back together, it was fine. Nissan later addressed the issue by instructing to remove the top chain guide and discarding it. Again, not really "fixing" the problem, but getting rid of the noise.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Since it's an oil fed tensioner, sludge or debris restricting oil flow to the tensioner can very well cause a chain rattle issue.
So do you think an oil change may worth a try? Or is that not enough and would be just a waste of money?
 

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NF Mod/Nissan Master Tech
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It's not going to hurt. Here's actually one of those times that an engine flush (like the ones that the dealers are always trying to push on customers) might come in useful. What they do is backflush the oil system by pumping a heated solvent up and into the oil filter adapter, which carries the oil to the cylinder head and then drains back down in the pan. I have no idea what they get for them now; they were around $110 including the new oil and filter back when I still worked for a dealer (2003). Of course, there's no guarantee that it will fix anything, so it's a gamble. You could always go "old school" with a can of "motor flush" sold at the local auto parts store. Some would otherwise suggest put some Seafoam in the oil. There's no way I can tell you what will or will not work (outside of doing it the difficult and expensive way). It's a decision you have to feel comfortable with.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
It's not going to hurt. Here's actually one of those times that an engine flush (like the ones that the dealers are always trying to push on customers) might come in useful.
Hmm, maybe I'll give it a shot. I'm a bit hesitant, as if it doesn't fix the problem then it's wasted money, but the exact same could be said if I would to order new timing parts and replace the whole thing even if it isn't necessary yet. Though it would mean taking apart the engine, which would include draining the oil as well, so it would definitely fix the problem. Also I would need to change my head gasked anyway, as it seems to be leaking a bit. So the best idea would be to do the whole thing anyway, that would definitely get rid of the cause whatever it is, but sadly I don't have the money for that yet. So while I'm planning to do that in the future, but not yet, and I am hoping to fix this rattle without having to take apart the engine.

An oil change & engine flush can't be that expensive, so I think I'll give it a show and we'll see if it helps.
 
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