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Old 03-05-2013, 12:31 PM   #1
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Question Did my timing chain slip?

Hello!
I have a 99 s10 4.3L with 240,000km. I was driving up a long hill on the highway (hit the bottom going 90km), the truck downshifted and it picked up speed momentarily. There was a sudden massive power drop and a rapid clicking noise coming from the engine. The engine light came on, then went to flashing, then back to solid. The noise gradually went away after about 2 min.

My guess is that the tensioner let the chain slip a tooth (low on oil, not enough pressure on the tensioner?). The truck still runs and starts but VERY rough. Strong smell of unburnt fuel. A buddy lent me a bluetooth computer module, the error code was P0300. A local mechanic seems to concur with the timing chain theory, and luckily its a non-interference engine.

My QUESTION is:
Do you agree? could it be a vacuum line or distributor? Or fuel filter? I figure its not because it was so sudden, under stress and the noise after. I would like to know for sure before dropping $850 on the repair or spending a few weekends ripping it apart myself for nothing. Have any of you done this repair?

Thanks!

El Newb
Old 03-05-2013, 12:39 PM   #2
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

The 4.3 does not use a tensioner.

If the chain jumped a tooth you would get a crank/cam correlation code, it likely wouldn't be drivable because the ignition timing would be so far off.

A vacuum line or clogged fuel filter won't cause a "sudden massive" loss of power.

How does the engine idle now, rough?

You may have bent a push rod or a lifter collapsed if you are still hearing noise and it's running rough.

If it's running rough I'd look to see if it's a specific cylinder, then pull the plugs and do a compression check. You should have 140-160 psi, if that cylinder is much lower than the rest pull the valve cover on that side and check the rockers for that cylinder.

If you don't hear a noise you may have a problem in the distributor. You may have a carbon arc in the cap shorting things out.
Old 03-05-2013, 03:39 PM   #3
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?


So there's no way for the chain to slip?

Yeah, the engine idles super rough, it'll die in ~10 seconds without throttle. It feels like there's a 5lb weight on the flywheel shaking the truck lol. That's why I thought it was timing, like its firing before reaching TDC.

From watching youtube vids, the noise could be a bent push rod but why would it disappear after 2 min.

I dont remember much from automotive class, could a blown head gasket do that?
Old 03-05-2013, 03:46 PM   #4
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

The timing chain would have to be so worn and loose that it will have worn through the front timing cover and you likely would have noticed the oil leak before the chain jumped.

Yes a blown head gasket could do that, but you would have tons of white smoke coming out the tailpipe and it would be spewing coolant out the coolant reservoir.

You need to determine if it is running rough overall or just on one cylinder.

Plug plug wires off one at a time until you find a cylinder that makes no difference, that will be the dead one. The distributor cap is the easiest access to plug wires.

If by pulling the wires off one at a time each cylinder is the same then you have an overall problem. That will require more effort to diagnose.
Old 03-05-2013, 04:21 PM   #5
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Just spoke to a few guys at an auto parts store. They seem to think a tooth broke on one of the timing sprokets.
Old 03-05-2013, 04:26 PM   #6
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Quote: Originally Posted by SidLexic
Just spoke to a few guys at an auto parts store. They seem to think a tooth broke on one of the timing sprokets.
Never seen that but I suppose it could happen, maybe.

You would have to remove the timing cover to see for sure.

I'd be pulling plug wires first, costs nothing and you will know it a minute if you have a dead cylinder.

Start with the easy things to check first.
Old 03-05-2013, 10:13 PM   #7
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Just checked the spark, seems like I can unplug all three wires from the right hand side (at the same time) and it has no effect. Unplug any on the left side and it starts to die.

I wanted to do a compression test but had no idea how buried those plugs are. Maybe I can fight them out tomorrow.

Coolant is low, cant see it in the rad, none in the reservoir. Maybe it all burned off or maybe I didnt notice it was low...

Edit: Right after the initial incident I checked my fluids; oil was low but not terrible, rad fluid gone in reservoir. When I popped the rad cap (yes, very carefully) some water bubbled out but that was it, looked in but cant see far enough down to know if its empty.

Its blowing some white smoke but I cant tell if thats just because its cold. Definitely smell unburnt fuel though.

Last edited by SidLexic; 03-05-2013 at 10:28 PM. Reason: More details
Old 03-05-2013, 10:23 PM   #8
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

You will want to pull the plugs out and compare them.

A normal plug should be a light to medium tan color.

If the plugs are black and wet looking it's getting either too much fuel.

If the plugs are very lightly tan or look very clean they are not firing.

You should also check compression.

You want to look for things that affect the cylinders on one side. You may have a spider injector problem, but don't do anything until you have compression readings and have examined the plugs.
Old 03-05-2013, 11:48 PM   #9
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

So you now know that it's not the timing chain as that would affect all cylinders, not just one side.

Did you check for spark on those cylinders?
Old 03-06-2013, 02:16 AM   #10
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

I'm going to ad in that, the guys at the Auto parts stores, are 90% of the time not even qualified to walk let alone diagnose some ones auto. I have experienced the hiring process,and worked with some of those halfwits.

AWDV8 has alot of good experience, as well as many other members here. However we can only guide you in a direction, and it is up to you to take advice given, or ignore it and keep on the incorrect path.

suck, squish, bang, blow,

Check spark and compression first, move from there.
Old 03-07-2013, 02:18 AM   #11
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

I didnt mean any disrespect by pitching in the halfwits opinions haha. I'm just trying to get as many opinions as possible. And I do really appreciate the help, so thank you.

Anyway!

2 hours later... I didnt mind fighting those plugs as much as getting that damn compression gauge into #3. I thought I broke the gauge because it didnt even twitch when I turned it over, double checked it was tight.

Compression results by cylinder:
  1. 145
  2. 160
  3. 0!!!!!!!!!
  4. 155
  5. 145
  6. 155


This is what the plugs looked like:



Old 03-07-2013, 03:04 AM   #12
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

I'd take the cover off to see if you can spot anything with #3's valves.
Old 03-07-2013, 03:10 AM   #13
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

^^ and with noises you may find a bent push rod. Maybe the adjusting nut backed off.

The push rod may have just given up, or the piston and valve may have had a meeting.

You will have to replace the push rod and adjust the valve, then repeat the compression test to see if the valve got bent.

Just noticed that #3 plug is a different brand than the others, somebody's replaced that one plug for a reason. Maybe broke one, or had a problem with that cylinder before.
Old 03-07-2013, 03:17 AM   #14
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

I'm thinking that with zero compression, the valve could be open as a result of a broken spring....the racket could be the valve bouncing on the piston. I guess if the valve isn't opening at all the compression would be really low too like AWD says. Won't know until you open it.
Old 03-07-2013, 11:21 AM   #15
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Quote: Originally Posted by rimara
I'm thinking that with zero compression, the valve could be open as a result of a broken spring....the racket could be the valve bouncing on the piston. I guess if the valve isn't opening at all the compression would be really low too like AWD says. Won't know until you open it.

Maybe I was misinformed, I thought these engines were non-interference?
Old 03-07-2013, 03:40 PM   #16
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Quote: Originally Posted by SidLexic
Maybe I was misinformed, I thought these engines were non-interference?
They are, until the valve spring or retainer break and the valve falls into the cylinder!

non-interferance means that if the crankshaft continues to spin, pistons still going up and down, while the camshaft stops, some valves stuck open, the pistons and valves will not touch.
Old 03-07-2013, 04:41 PM   #17
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Quote: Originally Posted by SidLexic
Maybe I was misinformed, I thought these engines were non-interference?
It seems there is significant disagreement on whether or not the 2.2 is interference or not, but what you say has merit. A broken spring doesn't always drop the valve, but the more you drive it the greater chance the retainer will come off. Of course, this is all speculation here.
Old 03-07-2013, 04:52 PM   #18
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

He's got a 4.3

I would pull that valvecover and have a look. If nothing's real obvious a quick leakdown test will tell you exactly where that compression is going.
Old 03-10-2013, 09:10 PM   #19
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Really appreciate the help guys.


Alright, so I double checked that compression because I had an afterthought that the gauge was resting on the release valve... Nope, still zero compression.

The spark is good at the plugs. Put new ones in anyway.

I ran it with the rad cap off, no puffs of air or bubbles coming out so I guess its not the head gasket? Oil looks fine.

Ran it with #3 out and I could see and smell exhaust coming from it. Dropped exhaust valve?

Havent taken the valve cover off yet. Might be moving to France soon and I need to work on visa stuff.

How long does it take to remove the header? it has AC. And any special tools?

Thanks again
Old 03-10-2013, 09:33 PM   #20
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Why do you want to remove the header?

You want to remove the valve cover.
Old 03-10-2013, 09:46 PM   #21
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Quote: Originally Posted by AWD V8
Why do you want to remove the header?

You want to remove the valve cover.
I'm assuming that if it is a dropped valve I'll need to take the header off?
Old 03-10-2013, 09:52 PM   #22
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Well I wouldn't be too hasty to tear it apart yet. Take it one step at a time.

You may find a bent push rod or a backed off adjuster nut. Quick & easy fix.
Old 03-10-2013, 09:55 PM   #23
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

#3 looks like an original plug. Maybe some did a 5 cyl tune up. Valve spring also came to my mind.
Old 03-11-2013, 12:32 AM   #24
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Quote: Originally Posted by AWD V8
Well I wouldn't be too hasty to tear it apart yet. Take it one step at a time.

You may find a bent push rod or a backed off adjuster nut. Quick & easy fix.
Can I get at the valve cover without moving the AC Bracket? Gotta be tomorrow, cant find my channel locks for the hose clamps.

@ Hoosier Rick. It did feel a bit weak for a 4.3
Old 03-11-2013, 12:59 AM   #25
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Quote: Originally Posted by SidLexic
Can I get at the valve cover without moving the AC Bracket? Gotta be tomorrow, cant find my channel locks for the hose
I can't say, I haven't removed a V/C on those years.
Old 03-12-2013, 03:16 AM   #26
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Slow going, here are pics, its not a broken spring or clip. #3 looks like a different colour b/c I had the light on it.

My knowledge of rods, rockers etc. is limited. It looks like #3 exhaust valve is sitting lower than the rest, but I can still wiggle the rocker side to side, could that happen if the cyl was on exhaust stroke? Only valve that didnt have that play was #1 intake.

I'll take the plugs out tomorrow and turn it. Ran out of time tonight.

Would a dropped exhaust valve disable the neighboring cylinders? I'm wondering why the truck only runs on 3 cylinders even though it has spark in 5. Perhaps Hoosier Rick is right about the 5 cyl tune up and this compression problem I'm looking at is old.




Old 03-12-2013, 03:32 AM   #27
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

OK, now disable the ignition so it won't try to start, pull the connector off the coil.

Now crouch down so you are looking across the row of rockers like in your 3rd pic. Have somebody crank the engine over and watch the rockers move. Note the 2 rockers for #3 and compare them to their neighbors.

Seeing as you have no compression if the piston is moving up and down, I think you are OK there, one of the rockers on #3 will not move, or move very little.

This would be a cam lobe worn down or a collapsed lifter. A collapsed lifter would be good at this point.
Old 03-12-2013, 12:37 PM   #28
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Quote: Originally Posted by AWD V8
OK, now disable the ignition so it won't try to start, pull the connector off the coil.

Now crouch down so you are looking across the row of rockers like in your 3rd pic. Have somebody crank the engine over and watch the rockers move. Note the 2 rockers for #3 and compare them to their neighbors.

Seeing as you have no compression if the piston is moving up and down, I think you are OK there, one of the rockers on #3 will not move, or move very little.

This would be a cam lobe worn down or a collapsed lifter. A collapsed lifter would be good at this point.
Damn. I dont know if I have the time money or tools to take the lower manifold off for just diagnosis.

What if this is an old problem? why would it only be running on 3 cyl? There is no way this could be timing or distributor related?
Old 03-12-2013, 12:41 PM   #29
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Quote: Originally Posted by SidLexic
Damn. I dont know if I have the time money or tools to take the lower manifold off for just diagnosis.

What if this is an old problem? why would it only be running on 3 cyl? There is no way this could be timing or distributor related?
At this point you are just seconds away from finding out what is wrong! Even if you don't have the time or money, don't you want to know what is wrong?

It might just be a bent push rod, I've seen that before and the fix is only a few dollars and about another 10 minutes.

No way is this distributor or timing related, it is only affecting one cylinder.
Old 03-12-2013, 12:51 PM   #30
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Quote: Originally Posted by AWD V8
At this point you are just seconds away from finding out what is wrong! Even if you don't have the time or money, don't you want to know what is wrong?

It might just be a bent push rod, I've seen that before and the fix is only a few dollars and about another 10 minutes.

No way is this distributor or timing related, it is only affecting one cylinder.

Haha, yes yes. I'm just at work and cant do it right now. I was thinking that there must be another problem if cylinders 1 and 5 aren't firing either.
Old 03-12-2013, 07:28 PM   #31
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

I would do what AWD V8 said first. If the rockers are all moving the same when you crank it, that would rule out the cam and or lifters.

The exhaust valve on cyl. 3 does look lower than the others in the pic. Loosen all of the rockers on that side and rotate them away from the valve tips. Now, lay a straight edge across the valve tips. If it is lower than the others, the valve is being held open somehow. It could be a bent valve, galled valve guide or broken seat. The only way to fix any of those issues would be to pull the head.

I know you said you don't have the time or money right now, but running it the way it is could possibly turn a repairable engine into scrap.
Old 03-12-2013, 08:12 PM   #32
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Quote: Originally Posted by artsob77
I would do what AWD V8 said first. If the rockers are all moving the same when you crank it, that would rule out the cam and or lifters.

The exhaust valve on cyl. 3 does look lower than the others in the pic. Loosen all of the rockers on that side and rotate them away from the valve tips. Now, lay a straight edge across the valve tips. If it is lower than the others, the valve is being held open somehow. It could be a bent valve, galled valve guide or broken seat. The only way to fix any of those issues would be to pull the head.

I know you said you don't have the time or money right now, but running it the way it is could possibly turn a repairable engine into scrap.
\

Thanks!

Yeah, its not drive-able anyway, its running on 3 cylinders...
Old 03-13-2013, 12:44 AM   #33
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

I cant tell if its moving more or less. All I know is that it always sits a bit lower than the intake valve.

Here's a cellphone vid, wasn't focusing too well.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/3958853...in/photostream

http://www.flickr.com/photos/3958853...in/photostream
Old 03-13-2013, 12:59 AM   #34
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

The videos show the actuation to be good, nothing catastrophic has happened to the valve train. The rockers are moving good. Now you need to find out where the compression went if the valves are opening.

It can only go away a few ways.

Intake or exhaust valve. You would need to back off the rocker adjusting nuts and apply air to the spark plug hole. Listen out the tailpipe and in the throttle body for loud hissing. This is a good possibility.

Rings would have to be more than totally wasted. I doubt this.

Hole in the piston. Compressed air in the spark plug hole will give a loud air flow out the oil filler cap.

At this point you are on the final leg of the diagnosis.

Man I hope it's not a hole in the piston.
Old 03-13-2013, 01:34 AM   #35
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

hmmm.
Old 03-13-2013, 06:43 PM   #36
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Theres a hell of a clicking noise in those vids. Is that the clicking you originally heard when the motor lost power? Also, you said you can see exhaust coming out of the #3 spark plug hole, can you feel any compression coming out, and you're positive the compression tester is seated? You really need to do a leakdown test, if you don't have access to compressed air you might be able to jury rig something with a bike pump or even jam a rubber hose and blow into it at this point. If it really is zero compression it won't take much to find the problem. I wonder with 0 compression and the racket while turning over if the #3 connecting rod broke.

Also, is the motor oil level full? The brief amount of time you cranked the motor might not pump oil up and out of the pushrods, then again it might.

I just re-read post #7, hopefully it's just a head gasket from running the radiator dry.
Old 03-13-2013, 07:01 PM   #37
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Quote: Originally Posted by Sonomanclature
hmmm.
hmm indeed. I don't have an air compressor.

At this point its either a head or piston problem. Either one is more work than i can put in. unless anyone has an idea how to get it running on 5 cylinders, its junk

it only needs to run for a couple months.
Old 03-13-2013, 08:02 PM   #38
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Quote: Originally Posted by SH-60B
Theres a hell of a clicking noise in those vids. Is that the clicking you originally heard when the motor lost power? Also, you said you can see exhaust coming out of the #3 spark plug hole, can you feel any compression coming out, and you're positive the compression tester is seated? You really need to do a leakdown test, if you don't have access to compressed air you might be able to jury rig something with a bike pump or even jam a rubber hose and blow into it at this point. If it really is zero compression it won't take much to find the problem. I wonder with 0 compression and the racket while turning over if the #3 connecting rod broke.

Also, is the motor oil level full? The brief amount of time you cranked the motor might not pump oil up and out of the pushrods, then again it might.

I just re-read post #7, hopefully it's just a head gasket from running the radiator dry.
No, the clicking was louder, this noise is "normal". I always thought it was just bad teeth on the flywheel.
Old 03-25-2013, 04:53 PM   #39
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Update ???????
Old 03-25-2013, 10:44 PM   #40
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Quote: Originally Posted by Hoosier Rick
Update ???????
Well I tried the compressed air trick... Found some junk fittings at work and filled it off a bottle haha.



I couldn't hear anything from anywhere, its not the quietest parkade.

I called around and most shops say it sounds like I'm looking at an engine swap.

"Not worth the hours to do significant repair on an engine with that many km, the bottom end will soon follow the top end" etc..

Quotes range from $1500-2000 (Engine + labor). I paid $2300 for it so its a tight line between junk yard and repair.

Anyone want it? Probably wont be around for much longer. I'm in the Vancouver area.

$600, open to offers of course.



Old 03-26-2013, 03:59 PM   #41
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

So that's it?
Old 03-26-2013, 04:11 PM   #42
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

I was really hoping to find out what the culprit was.
Old 03-26-2013, 04:22 PM   #43
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Yeah, thats it Sorry for the letdown.

My uneducated guess would be a valve seat. Maybe that was the clicking noise and it eventually buried itself into the head or went out the exhaust. You're welcome to have at it haha, the offer to beat is $250.

Thank you all for the help, seriously. And a major call out to AWD V8!
Old 03-26-2013, 05:24 PM   #44
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

It was a good story, the suspense on it could be vs what is actually is.

That's how we learn sometimes
Old 03-27-2013, 06:50 PM   #45
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Re: Did my timing chain slip?

Quote: Originally Posted by AWD V8
The 4.3 does not use a tensioner.
Not completely true, All 4.3L engines produced after September 8, 2003 came with a tensioner installed. So if his engine was replaced with a remaned unit after that date it should have a tensioner. There is also a TSB on installing the tensioner in older vehicles that experience balanced shaft "rattle" which the PCM can see as false knock.

Subject: Rattle Noise in Engine (Install Timing Tensioner Kit) #03-06-01-024B - (03/04/2004)

Models: 1996-2003 Chevrolet Astro, Blazer, Express, S-10, Silverado
1996-2003 GMC Jimmy, Safari, Savana, Sierra, Sonoma
1996-2001 Oldsmobile Bravada
with 4.3L V6 Engine (VINs W, X -- RPOs L35, LU3)


This bulletin is being revised to change warranty information. Please discard Corporate Bulletin Number 03-06-01-024A (Section 06 -- Engine/Propulsion System).
Condition

Some customers may comment on a rattle-type noise coming from the engine at approximately 1800 to 2200 RPMs.
Cause

The spark, rattle-type noise may be caused by torsional vibration of the balance shaft.
Correction

If detonation noise is present , perform detonation/spark knock diagnostics first.

Install a new tensioner assembly kit using the procedure below.

1. Remove the engine front cover. Refer to SI for engine front cover removal procedure.
2. Remove the crankshaft sensor reluctor ring and line up the timing marks on the crank gear and cam shaft gear.
3. Remove the camshaft gear and chain. For model years 1996-1998, remove the crankshaft sprocket using J 5825-A.
4. Pull the shipping pin and discard. Remove the nylon timing chain tensioner blade from the timing chain tensioner bracket.
5. Position the bracket on the front of the engine. The upper two attaching holes of the bracket will line up with the center two engine front cover bolt holes. The lower bracket holes will line up with the engine front cover alignment holes.
6. Use a hammer and the J 46165 Pin Driver to install the dowel pins through the two lower holes in the bracket and into the engine block. Make sure that the bracket is held firmly in place before proceeding.
7. For model years 1996-1998, install a roller-type timing chain set. Install the crankshaft sprocket using the J 5590 Crankshaft Gear Installer.
8. Install the timing chain around the crankshaft sprocket and position the timing chain to the driver's side of the engine.
9. Install the nylon timing chain tensioner guide onto the timing chain tensioner bracket pin and position the top of the guide under the tab at the top of the bracket.
10. Install the camshaft sprocket into the chain and then to the camshaft. Install the bolts finger-tight. Make sure the timing marks are aligned, then tighten the camshaft sprocket bolt.

Tighten

Tighten the bolt to 25 N·m (18 lb ft).
11. Install the crankshaft reluctor ring.
12. Install the engine front cover and place a washer under the two center cover bolts that extend through the tensioner bracket. These washers are required to maintain the proper crush on the engine front cover seal.

Tighten

Tighten the bolts to 12 N·m (106 lb in).

Parts Information

Part Number


Description


Qty

12458911


Chain kit


1

89017257


Tensioner


1

10220906


Oil pan gasket


1

88893989


O ring and gasket kit


1

3754587


Water pump gasket


2

89017259


Cover


1

Parts are currently available from GMSPO.
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