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Thread: I'm having a dilemma on my timing chain

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    Array Meathead's Avatar
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    I'm having a dilemma on my timing chain

    My Grand Am has 163k miles on her. I think the timing components are starting to wear out. That 'tick' has been present... well.. for probably the last 4-5 years, but after that long I thought it was a normal operating noise. No mechanic or anyone said otherwise so that was that. Only recently have I really begun doing my repair work and have learned what everything really is and what it means.

    Anyway, I have the start up ticking, a consistent tick, and just this morning it feels like she's running rougher in general. I feel it mainly in the pedals, similar to an extremely downplayed feeling when you go over those grooves in the shoulder of Thruways to keep you awake. RPM's seem high too, mainly when coasting, just by a little bit but when I'm going 40, usually chills at around 1300 or so and this morning she was holding steady at 1600-1700 going the same speed. I know a lot of vibration is due to my collapsed mounts... but thats a project for after the timing

    Here's the dilemma... I use my car for work(deliveries). I am uhh... financially challenged... at the moment, and my main source of income involves me driving my car. So essentially I have to make the problem worse to be able to make it better. I feel like I've been pretty lucky thus far, especially with how I've driven her at times, and I do not want anything worse to happen. It's a ticking time bomb every time I start her up isn't it? I want to change the chain and everything, though again, I've just started doing repair work about 6 months ago and I'm honestly quite nervous about working within the engine. I swear the universe hates it when I work on my car, and does everything in it's power to make it as difficult as possible in some of the simplest and ironic ways on me. On the other hand, I really don't have a choice. Any encouragement, tips, and/or nuggets of info you only get from doing it yourself is greatly appreciated I've been reading a lot of the posts and threads and everything on the site and feel as though I have a good general understanding of how to get this done, I'm wondering more about all those weird little things that are going to surprise you and make no sense of how are why it would happen that way. That has happened to me on every repair. Like crazy shit... took me 12 hours to change one tie rod because of stuff like that lol

    Is there anything I can do at all to help delay the chain breaking, or one of the guides more specifically? I've always used fully synthetic Mobil1 oil and change it religiously. I've been driving very calm too. Biggest wait is ordering the timing kit, having it shipped in , etc. I'm going to have to go work though to pay the part bill when it comes. My current defense is if the car shuts off, I'm not going to attempt to restart it.

    Biggest question: What's the best brand, along with very good brands, of timing kits? I always try to get the best, I find it to be worth the investment. Sometimes that isn't plausible though and I have to settle for very good, but never under that. My newest pet peeve is having to redo a job I already spent 10 hours in contorted positions doing I've heard decent things on the Cloyes brand as if they were a good 'go-to' for timing stuff? How about Fel-Pro for gaskets? Opinions? I have some bad valve seals (and/or?) valve cover gasket? I took the pic below of the screen of my borescope inside the spark plug hole. I didn't enter the cylinder in fear of knocking the materials inside of it.

    2016-05-26 19.32.32.jpg

    Here's a video that I initially took for myself to get a closer look at some pullys and to check the Harmonic Balancer in trying to diagnose my oil issue. Camera is a little shaky but it gives a very good overall impression of the noises that it's been making. Since that was taken I have changed the Serp. Belt and tensioner.

    Another thing... I've heard engines like to be clean. I live in the desert now and at a complex. My only place to do this repair is in the middle of the parking lot. How worried and what, if any, precautions to I need to take to ensure the engine isn't contaminated with blowing dust or whatever? Maybe I can pitch a cheap tent from HF haha. How likely is this going to turn into a longer than one day project? It's hot so there are times I need to go inside and chill out, that parking lot is a wide open sun burned oven lol. I'm technically not allowed to do repair work at the complex either, so what I start Saturday afternoon HAS to be finished by Monday morning.

    Last thing.. I know.. I'm sorry I'm a rambler.. I have access to the Factory service manual for my car, but besides spec info, that thing isn't worth a damn to me haha, it assumes I know waaaay too much. Haynes, Chilton, etc. also decided to stop making a manual for my car after 2003. There is no known printed 2004 or 2005 Repair manual for the Grand AM. 99-03 (02.5 technically) is similar to the 04's but there are a lot of differences as well. The book for that also uses the 2.4 Quad, as the 2.2's were thrown in mid year for 03, and from what I've seen, the Quad and the Ecotec are rather different. I want a book but I'm not sure what to do when it comes to that.

    That completes this dilemma... more to come haha

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    Not sure how much help I can give on this, but I wouldn't bother trying to do a timing chain replacement on a Grand Am if all I had was a dirt lot to work in. You really need the engine to be completely out of the car to do this right.... the engine/transaxle assembly likes to drop out the bottom of these cars, not the top like an old muscle car or a pickup truck. Just the act of draining fluids and disconnecting and labeling all the hoses and wires could take weeks to complete for a novice. You can expect to cut or destroy several hoses and wires by accident on your first engine removal. No, unless you're a good mechanic or a gifted hobbyist, you should probably just look for a decent replacement used car instead. you could probably find another decent grand am just like yours on craigslist or offerup for $2000 or less. In the meantime, change your motor oil often (that's what lubes your timing chain) and make sure to check your oil every time you gas up. If the oil looks any darker than maple syrup, just change the stuff...don't wait for it to turn black, that's how engines get worn out.

    (also your engine sounds relatively healthy, i wouldn't worry about it falling apart for some years yet.)
    Last edited by 70mstang; 06-22-2016 at 06:37 PM.

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    From what I've read, removing the engine is only completely necessary when doing the balance chain system as well and doing the timing chain itself just requires the valve cover and side cover removal. Why look for another used car that has its own set of problems when I've spent as much time and money on my car that's completely paid off? I've already rebuilt the front end suspension, working on the rear, have customized the interior, all the LED's, stereos, memories, etc.? I can't leave all that behind to essentially place myself in the same position I'm already in. It'd be taking a redundant loss. My perspective is unless a car blows up, gets flattened by a semi on the highway, or some other form of catastrophic and irreparable damage to numerous major components, fixing what you already have is almost always cheaper than purchasing a new one. Especially when you have your heart in what you already have.

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    This is how the engine sounded a couple days ago, kind of sounds like its getting worse. Or am I just being paranoid? I used my phone to try and see into the water pump peep hole and the flashlight only stays on in video mode now for whatever reason, so this awesome video was born. Sorry it's all shaky and such, didn't expect to be uploading it.

    What am I supposed to be looking at / seeing through that peep hole anyway?


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    It's easy to do in the car. Dealership parts are ideal, but others may have cheaper recommendations based upon successful results.

    Nothing is difficult; some things just take more time.
    TAKE TO EXTREMES AND DOMINATE!

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