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Hello everyone! I'm the new proud owner of a 01 Intrepid ES (75,681 miles) with a 2.7L that has just started making extreme timing chain rattling noise. I have read plenty of horror stories regarding this motor from water pump failure to the engine clogging so bad oil pressure drops and so does the hyd tensioner. I pulled the valve covers off to check if that was indeed what i was hearing and sure enough i felt the chain and it had plenty of slop on the driver side. I haven't managed to remove the timing cover yet to check the crank marks to verify if its skipped time or not because it looks like i need to remove the front bumper but ill get to it soon. Either way bent valves or not i'm aware of the problem. What i can't seem to figure out is how it happened and the underlying problem. When i removed the valve covers the cams look relatively clean andthere is no sludge on the underside of the valve covers. With the mileage and lack of sludge buildup it seems hard to believe it failed from low oil pressure. Also when it was running and the chain was slapping around it had no CEL or OIL warning indicators. I'm not sure how long the hydraulic tensioner is suppose to be but it doesn't look colapsed (at least i dont think it is). If anything it looks extended to me. Is it possible at all that my tensioner is actually full extended and my chain is elongated to a point it would slap and make noise and also hasn't skipped time yet either? Or is that the most insane wishful thinking you have ever heard.... Any opinions and advise are more then welcome, thanks! pics will be added soon.
 

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I think the tensioner has a couple of lines on it to gauge how far it is extended. Verify water pump shaft is not flopping around (bearing failure). And yes - could be worn chain.

If tensioner is dry, its internal spring can extend it, but the spring is not strong enough to stay extended against camshaft valve spring torque. It has to fill with oil to be stiff.

It’s not oil pump pressure per-se that stiffens the tensioner, rather it takes in oil supplied to it thru it’s ball check valve port and pumps itself up exactly like a lash adjuster (AKA valve lifter) does.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
I think the tensioner has a couple of lines on it to gauge how far it is extended. Verify water pump shaft is not flopping around (bearing failure). And yes - could be worn chain.

If tensioner is dry, its internal spring can extend it, but the spring is not strong enough to stay extended against camshaft valve spring torque. It has to fill with oil to be stiff.

It’s not oil pump pressure per-se that stiffens the tensioner, rather it takes in oil supplied to it thru it’s ball check valve port and pumps itself up exactly like a lash adjuster (AKA valve lifter) does.
In your opinion does this tensioner appear to be collapsed or extended? I want to say it might be at one of the extension marks but i can't really tell. Also i put a pry bar on the back of the guide and it doesn't appear it wants to extend much further, maybe a 1/8th inch. Could the water pump issue you described cause the chain to be loose? If the bearing in the WP failed would i have a coolant/oil mix situation?
 

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Back with an update. I removed the front brace to get at the front of the engine. Removed the radiator fans and drive belts. Just need to get the crank pulley off etc and im there. Rain started so i had to stop. Anyways i was turning the engine over by hand a few revolutions to see if the gold timing chain teeth would at least line up with the cam timing marks and they do whether that means anything or not (easily could still not line up with crank i know) but it didnt feel or sound like that valves were hitting. Also the one thing i do notice which i would like someones opinion on. It seems every 1 revolution of the crank or so in the same spot the timing tensioner is retracting and making a click sound and when i turn the crank a little bit further it pops back out and extends. Is this normal....should the tensioner rectract in a certain position of the crank each revolution? Also facing the drive belt side of the engine is turning it clockwise the correct rotation to turn it? Thanks in advance!
 

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The tensioner has a check valve in it. Once it's pumped full of oil it won't retract unless it's defective. Sounds like you need a new tensioner. Dealer only on that item or you're making an expensive mistake going aftermarket.
 

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Part number is: 04792443AB

Again....get it from the dealer only. Looks pretty pricey nowadays! Looks to be over $200. Check with your local dealer.
 

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Back with an update. I removed the front brace to get at the front of the engine. Removed the radiator fans and drive belts. Just need to get the crank pulley off etc and im there. Rain started so i had to stop. Anyways i was turning the engine over by hand a few revolutions to see if the gold timing chain teeth would at least line up with the cam timing marks and they do whether that means anything or not (easily could still not line up with crank i know) but it didnt feel or sound like that valves were hitting. Also the one thing i do notice which i would like someones opinion on. It seems every 1 revolution of the crank or so in the same spot the timing tensioner is retracting and making a click sound and when i turn the crank a little bit further it pops back out and extends. Is this normal....should the tensioner rectract in a certain position of the crank each revolution? Also facing the drive belt side of the engine is turning it clockwise the correct rotation to turn it? Thanks in advance!
This is normal with no oil pressure; the tensioner is spring loaded without oil pressure to keep chain tension. It will retract and extend a little bit.

From your pictures looks like it is extended a bit more than normal.

Remove the front cover and inspect. Replace water pump with updated water pump (heavier body and updated gasket) from Dodge dealer only (DO NOT buy aftermarket crap!). Replace the tensioner. Make sure you activate new tensioner correctly.

Without looking myself my guess is the bearings are out in the water pump. Check your guides and chain for damage as well. If it nothing has came apart and the chain did not hit anything from being loose, it is likely OK, and the tensioner is at fault. Replace the water pump either way. If there is any question, replace the chain and guides as well.

See my water pump and 2.7 threads too;

https://www.dodgeintrepid.net/18-general-discussion-second-generation/246001-2-7-water-pump-replacement-procedure.html

https://www.dodgeintrepid.net/18-general-discussion-second-generation/171698-info-2-7-owners.html
 

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You might be able to find the OEM tensioner on eBay and save a little. As Ron said: Do not use aftermarket for this part. If you go eBay only use sellers that have high 90’s feedback and explicitly say it is the OEM part. I see that Rock Auto has the OEM part, so eBay, Rock Auto, or dealer - lowest price of the three if cost is important.

Go with the part number Ron posted (try all searches with and without the leading zero). They changed the tensioner with new part number - the other part number will not fit your car.
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Ok everyone im back with my last update for the night. I made a quick run to the parts store to loan a harmonic balancer puller and i have the timing chain cover off now so i can check the water pump etc as suggested. I don't quite now what i'm looking for on that....It doesn't visibly appear to have any leaks and if i grab ahold of the gear it doesn't seem to have any play. I could use some suggestions on how to check that out properly.

Anyways.... lining up the crank up with the timing mark on the block (Under Gold Tooth) the cam marks are facing north and right under their designated gold tooth so it looks like its still in time ya? And if thats the case then what exactly is my issue here? I was under the impression if you have complete tensioner failure etc and the chain gets loose its almost guaranteed to go out of time.

Earlier when i was turning the crank over i would notice that when the tensioner was actually extended the chain was pretty tight and when it would retract in that certain spot in the rotation then it would have a bit of slack. i definitely will replace the tensioner and waterpump as suggested but im a bit hesitant to pull the trigger until i completely understand what happened here. Is there a way to bench test the tensioner? If i take it off should it function a certain way that would tell me if working? Or is there something else that could be wrong. Like i said it had no warning lights i was just hearing that loud driver side upper engine knock/slap metal on metal sound.
 

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I decided since i paid 250$ for this car and it broke before i even got home with it. Spending 180$ + on a mopar chain tensioner and whatever a water pump cost doesn't seem worth it. I checked the WP for leaks, it spins freely and has no wobble. Its getting reused and i put a CLOYES 95422 {#4792443AB} tensioner in it. I activated it, buttoned up the cover and when i finish putting it back together tomorrow ill follow their priming procedure and see if it works. The tensioner was 70$ and the cover gasket and seal was 30$. Im in this car for 350$ so if it starts clanking its ass off when i start it up im going to strip all the small parts i can sell on ebay and tow the remains to the recycling center for 80$ a ton scrap prices.
 

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Glad i didn't spend the money on a OEM because it made no difference. It still clanks its ass off, still not enough slack that it will skip time, The tensioner is extended and the water pump shaft has no updown/sideside movement. What the hell could possibly be causing the chain to have slack?
 

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sliders could be excessively worn out. that's the plastic guides the chain slides in on the sides.
 

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Thought you were going to scrap it?
 

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...Is it possible at all that my tensioner is actually full extended and my chain is elongated to a point it would slap and make noise and also hasn't skipped time yet either?...
As others have suggested, that is a possibility, as well as chain guide issues. With tensioner being well extended and no play in water pump, it would appear that those are the only two possibilities left.
 

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sliders could be excessively worn out. that's the plastic guides the chain slides in on the sides.
They look good as far as i can see. They are about 1/4 inch thick and don't appear to have much if any wear.

Thought you were going to scrap it?
I really don't want to destroy a straight clean car that has 75k miles but i can only let a non running car sit around so long before it has to go. I'm going to try and give it another shot but just on general principal i'll probably give up after this just because it consumes so much time every time i have to assemble/disassemble. At this point i'm starting to think the chain is the problem. Although i cant understand how it would bad at the mileage unless the last owner never changed the oil. And out of the 3 (water pump, tensioner and chain) i would think that would be least suspect.
 

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As others have suggested, that is a possibility, as well as chain guide issues. With tensioner being well extended and no play in water pump, it would appear that those are the only two possibilities left.
Is there any way to know for sure tho? Can i measure the chain length in some fashion and compare it somehow? Should the chain sliders be thicker then 1/4 inch? Is my best here to guess and just pray that if i spend 120$ on a timing chain kit with guides that after 2-3 more hours of assembly that it will just work lol? I really get this feeling that if i do that, wait for the parts, spend the time putting it back together and it still doesn't work ill go into a uncontrollable rage and beat the car to death with a bat.
 

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does the chain have slack when the adjusatble slider on the passenger side is pulled over by hand?
if the sliders can't take up the slack under that, then i'd guess that is the problem.
are your sliders evenly worn?
they make look good at the ends but be missing most material in the middle.

not being there it is tough for anybody to actually say what the problem is. it could even be oil feed not strong enough to hold the tensioner fully out under load.
when you opened it up, how clean was the inside of the engine?
peva is the biggest expert here of the 2.7 engine i'd say.
if he can't help, nobody could.
just a thought, have you ran a cleaner through the engine?
i've had lifters hammering that a cleaner has fixed.
forget the brand (bardhal, wynn?) purple/black. cleenz valve and lifters.
just might be oil feed.

these are all the quick thoughts out of my mind without actually being there to test things either.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
does the chain have slack when the adjusatble slider on the passenger side is pulled over by hand?
if the sliders can't take up the slack under that, then i'd guess that is the problem.
are your sliders evenly worn?
they make look good at the ends but be missing most material in the middle.

not being there it is tough for anybody to actually say what the problem is. it could even be oil feed not strong enough to hold the tensioner fully out under load.
when you opened it up, how clean was the inside of the engine?
peva is the biggest expert here of the 2.7 engine i'd say.
if he can't help, nobody could.
just a thought, have you ran a cleaner through the engine?
i've had lifters hammering that a cleaner has fixed.
forget the brand (bardhal, wynn?) purple/black. cleenz valve and lifters.
just might be oil feed.

these are all the quick thoughts out of my mind without actually being there to test things either.
In comparison to some of the examples i have seen online that have gunk pasted under the valves covers etc this one looks clean other then the abused oil changed intervals by the previous owner. Before i took it apart the 1st time it had no check engine light and was clanking at any RPM from the upper driver side of the engine. After changing the tensioner it will clank just as much on startup but once the RPM drops down after 10 seconds it almost stops making noise completely. hit the gas and its clanking again. And it also has a check engine light on now. i have the crank case off again now and the chain feels tighter then it was but had a little bit of slack around the water pump. cranking it over by hand it takes up the slack and basically feels tight until you get to a certain spot in the rotation and you will get a slack spot somewhere. The slides on the guides really don't look worn at all, they have no groove were the chain rubs against them in the middle. Its still in time so im not sure what the check engine light was on for.
 

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being on the drivers side as you say, are you sure it's main chain and not the cam drive chain or valve train noise?
engine in my truck was clean when a lifter started more than just a tick. it was hammering.
some cleaner brought it around after about 10-15 mins of idling.
or maybe try a 0-40 weight oil for a test.

cranking by hand will give you no oil pressure and tight-loose as it comes over valve events.
i'd try a few other things like a cleaner first before going ater the chain on a low miler like that.
you did make sure the chain had a little slack when checking the pump also?
it's more likely to move up/down than side to side.
 

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being on the drivers side as you say, are you sure it's main chain and not the cam drive chain or valve train noise?
engine in my truck was clean when a lifter started more than just a tick. it was hammering.
some cleaner brought it around after about 10-15 mins of idling.
or maybe try a 0-40 weight oil for a test.

cranking by hand will give you no oil pressure and tight-loose as it comes over valve events.
i'd try a few other things like a cleaner first before going ater the chain on a low miler like that.
you did make sure the chain had a little slack when checking the pump also?
it's more likely to move up/down than side to side.
I had checked the water pump when there was slack on the chain around it. Overall there is about maybe 1 sprocket tooth worth of play in the chain judging by the little bit i could rotate the water pump pulley back and forth but the shaft itself felt solid, definately wasn't accounting for the bit of play the chain had. I also briefly grabbed ahold of the cam chains when i had the valve covers off and they were tight enough i couldnt move them at all. As far as the valves go i just checked to make sure all the springs were in place etc and everything felt tight above. These motors don't really have lifters tho that can come loose and make noise do they? The cams just roll on top of the valve assembly it looks like. The sound this motor makes is louder then any lifter noise i have ever heard in the past. I had a monte carlo that i overtightened the valves on and all 6 lifters came apart on one entire head and it was nowhere as audible as this is. Its definately on the driver side upper portion of the engine. I don't know definitively that its the timing chain it just sounds like it is in my opinion. It has that sound like if you were to drag a chain or grind a gear at decent RPM against a hollow piece of aluminum that puts off a louder sound because it almost echos. And i was able to pull the check engine code that appeared after reasembly from the new chain tensioner. Its a misfire/coilpack D code. Have no idea if its even related or something i messed up when i put it back together this last time.
 
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