Help me with my car noise thread number 54686 - DodgeIntrepid.Net Forums - Dodge Intrepid, Concorde, 300m and Eagle Vision chat
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post #1 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-12-2017, 04:02 PM Thread Starter
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Help me with my car noise thread number 54686

Hello! I've been lurking on the forums here for quite some time and have found very many of the things posted here helpful in trying to properly maintain my vehicle. But after reading as much as I can and trying to figure out what the issue is on my own, I'm totally lost on what this noise could be. Let me explain:

I purchased a 2004 Dodge Intrepid SE with the 2.7(It had about 220k miles on it but I didn't have much money and frankly I don't have far to go every day to school, also the car ran quiet and remarkably smooth) last year around this time, but because of funding issues(college student on a college student budget, also was still trying to get a part time job at the time) it had to sit for quite some time(Until sometime October 2016) before I could actually drive it.

Upon finally getting the money together to get it on the road I did all the things that I would expect someone to do for a car that was sitting so long, changed the oil that had been sitting in it forever, bought a new battery, new tires, checked all the fluids in it, made sure hoses weren't rotting off, new air filter, etc. And have been fairly adamant about maintenance when money allows ever since. But upon getting it running there was a strange tick, or clickity clack noise that occurred briefly but quickly went away with a few minutes of driving.

Car ran absolutely great for months after this. We just attributed the noise to the car sitting for so long. I had also decided to run Marvel Mystery oil in it during the two oil changes in order to try and clean out any sludge or buildup that may have accumulated. It seemed to be doing a pretty decent job because the oil that came out was incredibly dirty despite the brief amount of time the oil was in it.

But, a couple months ago this ticking or clickity clacky noise has returned. But the noise just sort of comes and goes erratically. Sometimes I won't hear it for days. Other times it will just come back for a few days. Sometimes it will start while I'm driving it and then go away by the end of the drive. Sometimes you can hear it when the car is first starting, other times you can't. It seems to disappear when the car is gassed really hard or the engine is at high RPM. Sometimes that actually causes the noise to disappear entirely for the rest of the drive. The noise also doesn't seem to impact anything about how the car dives at all. The car still drives completely fine, but just with the noise.

Me, being on spring break and having nothing better to do have decided to get to the bottom of it to see if I can prevent it from becoming a major issue if it hasn't already. I would have worked on this sooner but I lacked both time and money. I do have time and at least some money right now.

I'm not entirely sure what it is. My dad thinks it's a sticking lifter(some people call it a hydraulic tappet) but I have also read it could be the timing chain tensioner, or a timing chain related issue. But for all I know it could be something else altogether. I've tried to diagnose the issue to the best of my limited and awful mechanic ability. There are no strange check engine codes(there are two but they seem to relate to the vacuum seal of the gas tank, probably that gas cap that doesn't feel right), there is no visible coolant in the oil, no metal shavings I can see anywhere, no fluids leaking under the car, no oil light. The cars upper end of the engine actually seems quite clean for this mileage compared to what I've seen in other images on the internet. The current mileage is 223k.

I just pulled out the timing chain tensioner and I'm not sure that there's even a problem with it. It wasn't extended out anywhere near the metal line etched on it, although for all I know something could still be wrong with it and I just don't know how to tell. I also inspected the cam lobes and there appears to be abnormal wear on just one lobe, so I pulled the rocker arm under it and then pulled out the hydraulic tappet thinking this might mean my dad's theory about the lifter(hydraulic tappet?) is correct. Well, it seems to be fine unless it's possible for it to just intermittently function properly. I can't really move it all which should mean that it's holding oil properly? Which is actually somewhat alarming as now I'm not sure how to explain the abnormal cam lobe wear. It clearly has been wearing more than the others, and actually has a rough feeling grayish spot rather than shiny steel like the rest(the hardening on it is gone now?). I have considered the idea of just rod knock but that doesn't seem to make sense given that the noise disappears when the car is gassed, and the fact that it hasn't caused the car to fail catastrophically yet. But I could be wrong, who knows.

But cam lobe wear aside, this is still not explaining the main issue here, which is what is the noise the car is making intermittently?

Frankly, I'm at the end of my rope here, I can only read so much before finally having to ask myself. So please, any help would be greatly appreciated. I will answer any questions and even take pictures if needed.

I don't expect this car to last forever with this high of a mileage, and I didn't expect a miracle when buying it( I just needed something), but it would be nice to keep it to get to and from class with or to keep what independence I do have from my parents.
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post #2 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-13-2017, 07:59 AM
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You've done your homework. If you had only posted the symptoms, I would have suggested the chain tensioner as the first suspect, and lifters (AKA lash adjusters) second.

I would start with replacing the tensioner with one from the Chrysler dealer or off ebay - OEM part only. Aftermarket tensioners are known to be problematic - right out of the box. (There were two designs on the tensioner - not interchangeable. You want the later design, but shopping by the year of your car should automatically take care of that.)

Even if you replace the tensioner, you might also consider spending an additional $30-40 on a 2.7 stop block (ebay item) as insurance against the tensioner totally collapsing, which could result in serious engine damage.

Did the noise start before or after using the MMO?

The worn cam lobe could have been due to partial oil blockage.

You don't appear to be putting a lot of miles on it, so you can probably get by on the cam for a while, but sometime down the road you might want to replace the cam. Of course you would want to be positive about having cleared any oil blockage if you do that.

Water pump is a risk for failing (seals and bearings) if it hasn't been replaced. OEM only on that!! Again - aftermarket ones are total crap.

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post #3 of 3 (permalink) Old 03-21-2017, 09:59 AM
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Not trying to hijack a thread here, but I was just coming to see if I could find anyone else that had this issue, and/or ask about it myself.

I have a rattling sound that seems to be coming from the engine area on the driver side. I can only hear it when I'm driving, and it is most noticeable at the lower end of 3rd and 4th gear. I can make it happen in 1st/2nd gear under certain conditions (putt putting between stop signs in town on a hill). I originally thought it was just a loose exhaust shield since it's really only noticeable on the lower RPM range of any of the gears. All this being said, I can occasionally hear it if I step on it to pass someone on the highway. But if I go easy on her, it will only happen on the lower RPM range (or the engine itself just drowns the sound out at 60-70mph). But a few weekends ago I was doing an oil change and crawled around trying to jiggle anything I could, and everything seems to be solid. If I park it, get out, and rev the engine from the engine bay, I cannot reproduce the sound.

I replaced my valve cover gaskets, grommets, and stem seals that same weekend. While I had the valve covers off, I noticed the tensioner arm was right up against my stop block, but there seemed to be plenty of tension on the chain despite this fact. If I manually turn the crankshaft, I can see the tensioner pulse in and out (although very slightly). I'm concerned that my tensioner is failing, or has, and for whatever reason the rattle just seems to be coming from the driver side.

Unlike the OP, I cannot make the sound go away by stepping on it.

All timing chain components are maybe 5 months old, and 100% OEM.... not that this guarantees nothing will fail. If that was the case, I wouldn't have a stop block.

I'm still battling an oil leak from the timing cover... Replaced the gasket twice now, used gasket maker on the part that mates with the oil pan... still leaks like a sieve. I'm going to tear it down again, and just use a shit ton of gasket maker around the whole timing cover. That's how it was when I originally broke into it. It never leaked until I mocked the previous owner, and installed a Fel-Pro gasket because it seemed like the right thing to do.

When I do that, I'm considering pulling the tensioner, checking it out, and resetting it to see if that helps... Anyone want to loan me a tensioner reset tool, or explain how to make one/do it shade tree style?

Unlike the OP, I put a ton of miles on the car -- Almost 500 miles per week. I'm pretty sure my suspension is completely shot too. I don't know a lot about suspension, but I checked it over, and it appears to be all original... after re-reading the sticky about after market struts, maybe I'll just make sure nothings broken, and deal with some clunking when I go over bumps, and a non-luxury ride experience.

I planned on keeping the car for as long as possible. But it's almost 20 years old, and it's starting to get expensive to keep. I hope to keep everything held together and running until next spring when I'll just replace it :(

It does bum me out though. I just found a Trep ES w/ 3.5L HO engine, and literally everything (aside from the instrument cluster) that I've wanted to put into this car. Supposedly, the only thing wrong with that car is the transmission.. I've considered buying it, moving my tranny, tires, and anything else I can salvage to it. The guy I bought the wife's van from has it way in the back of his lot... he offered it to me for $500 bucks since we bought the van there, and we're returning customers. Battery was dead, and I was more concerned about getting the wife more wheels so I didn't really check it out much... The hood lifts actually held the hood up though!

Just posting here for collaboration purposes. If it's a totally different issue, I'll remove my wall of text, and make a new thread. I've tried recording the sound, but since it only happens when I'm traveling, it is very difficult to hear. I'll try to do it in a lower gear to isolate as much engine/road noise as possible tonight.
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