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Need advice on valvetrain noise that wont go away

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My 87 pathfinder with 201k on it has a very irritating tapping/ rattling noise going on that I originally thought was sticky lifters.

 

I started with an oil change to 10w40 full synthetic with a wix filter but it actually got worse. Then I decided to just replace the lifters and they pumped up everything went much quieter until the oil got hot and then they too started making the very same noise as before.

 

I pulled the valve covers again and none of them were slack, they were all firm as could be. So in my thinking I went to the u pull it yard near me and got a full unit from the lifter plates to the rocker arms from an 02 xterra.

 

Swapped them in and once again same thing with the noise, so today I switched from the 10w40 synthetic to 15w40 conventional oil and it got marginally better but not enough to say it made a difference.

 

The noise is always there hot or cold but when hot it's much more pronounced and at idle I get a very distinctive pop noise. I have a video of the noise I'll try and post but I'm really at my witts end here. All that's left is to replace the whole head as I cant find any info on where to look or check.

 

 

 

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Dude... hah! Someone with my same issue! Well, maybe.. put in some 5w30 and see if it goes away.

 

 

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Dude... hah! Someone with my same issue! Well, maybe.. put in some 5w30 and see if it goes away.


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I had 10w30 in prior to the first pil change and it was still making a racket. Tomorrow I'm going to play around with a feeler gauge and see if maybe the cam lobes are worn down or something. If not I guess I'll be getting a set of heads from a donor vg30 and going that route.

I also forgot to add that at idle my oil pressure is 12psi and at 3200rpm its 56psi so oil pressure is spot on thanks to a new oil pump when I did the rebuild years aga.

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I had 10w30 in prior to the first pil change and it was still making a racket. Tomorrow I'm going to play around with a feeler gauge and see if maybe the cam lobes are worn down or something. If not I guess I'll be getting a set of heads from a donor vg30 and going that route. I also forgot to add that at idle my oil pressure is 12psi and at 3200rpm its 56psi so oil pressure is spot on thanks to a new oil pump when I did the rebuild years aga. 

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If I put even 10w30 in mine is clacks itself half to death. But 5w30 and it purrs..  

 

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If I put even 10w30 in mine is clacks itself half to death. But 5w30 and it purrs..



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You'd think that with an aging engine thicker oil would shut it up lol I'm going to run this oil in it for a few days since it also has a little mmo in it and then try an even thinner oil and cross my fingers. I've spent like $50 on oil in the last 2 days

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You'd think that with an aging engine thicker oil would shut it up lol I'm going to run this oil in it for a few days since it also has a little mmo in it and then try an even thinner oil and cross my fingers. I've spent like $50 on oil in the last 2 days

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I suspect either clogged oil pathways leading to the heads or some other kind blockage issue, or some sort of oil pump problem. Higher viscosity equals higher resistance to flow or something..


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In any case I will be very interested to know if your issue goes away with 5w30. I literally have your exact problem. Mine will clack so loud that I’m afraid to drive it and I’m almost certain I can hear some detonation occurring in unison with the clacking.

 

 

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I always run 5w30 in all my VG's. I once ran 10w30 and it was noticeably louder especially on startup.

 

Yours doesn't sound too bad to be honest. The injectors are also known for being loud.

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I suspect either clogged oil pathways leading to the heads or some other kind blockage issue, or some sort of oil pump problem. Higher viscosity equals higher resistance to flow or something..


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Well I'm pretty certain it isn't an oiling issue as you can see the oil flowing from around the tip of the lifter through the oil cap hole. But if I have to I'll get some brake clean and compressed air and blow through everything that I can and see if that changes anything. I'd rather not have to pull the heads but thanks to it being tbi it's pretty simple getting to everything unlike mpfi rigs lol

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I always run 5w30 in all my VG's. I once ran 10w30 and it was noticeably louder especially on startup.
 
Yours doesn't sound too bad to be honest. The injectors are also known for being loud.
My injectors are surprisingly quiet, I'm just tired of having to cut it off to place an order in a drive thru. It echoes like you're in a corridor lol

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I would try some good 5w30 synthetic. What filters are you using? I know wix are good quality but they also caused my oil pressure to be slow on startup. 

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Well I'm pretty certain it isn't an oiling issue as you can see the oil flowing from around the tip of the lifter through the oil cap hole. But if I have to I'll get some brake clean and compressed air and blow through everything that I can and see if that changes anything. I'd rather not have to pull the heads but thanks to it being tbi it's pretty simple getting to everything unlike mpfi rigs lol

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I might be jumping the gun on making assumptions on our issues being the same. I’m just hypersensitive to valve train noise and I’ve never heard anyone say the noise increases with higher viscosity except you. Mine is a VG33 so our heads are very similar but I think the oil pumps are different and it’d be a stretch to say two different oil pumps produce such a strange phenomenon.


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I would try some good 5w30 synthetic. What filters are you using? I know wix are good quality but they also caused my oil pressure to be slow on startup. 

The oil filter adding to the problem is something I experience. The best I have found is Fram Silver/Gold. Even K&N makes mine start clacking, even with 5w30. The ONLY combo that works for me is synthetic 5w30 and Fram Silver/Gold.


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I would try some good 5w30 synthetic. What filters are you using? I know wix are good quality but they also caused my oil pressure to be slow on startup. 
I'm using wix oil filters and on start up I have instant oil pressure according to the gauge I'm using.

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I just thought of something! Could the heads be damaged from a broken timing belt and the previous owner turning it over with ALL of the valves bent? I'd image not since that would be a ton of additional clearance.

A short list of things done during the rebuild is new oil pump, new valves, new timing belt kit, and a deep cleaning of all oil feeds and passages.

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Try the 5W-30. I found years ago when building a Frankenstein NAPS-Z for my 1980 200sx 25 years ago that Nissan engines were harder to build than old American engines due to the much tighter tolerances required in them. Those tight tolerances make using higher viscosity oils a problem. 

Crazy idea, but I do suggest using a Nissan oil filter and the 5W-30 that Nissan recommends for your engine. 

My previously mentioned 200sx had what I initially thought was valve clatter, it had solid lifters so did require valve adjustments, but after checking several times finally did track it down to the injectors in that engine. 

 

My 93 Pathfinder had a crankshaft sprocket key fail at about 208k miles. The valves never made noise until they got introduced to the pistons. Milage is unknown on my current VG33 in that truck(3rd truck the engine has been installed in) and at hot idle, my oil pressure drops to less than 10 psi according to the Autometer pressure gauge I have in there currently. The valves are still quiet. This engine has had only 3 oil changes in the last 5 years, so not treated the best. Granted, the truck has had only about 7k miles in the last 5 years, but time does it's own damage to the oil. 

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I had mine all the way apart when I did my head gaskets. Ohh wait, I had to use my heads and cams from my old engine so my issue can’t be heads or cams, and you swapped the lifter guides and lifters, so that doesn’t leave much else besides the oil pump / oil flow issues.


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I had mine all the way apart when I did my head gaskets. Ohh wait, I had to use my heads and cams from my old engine so my issue can’t be heads or cams, and you swapped the lifter guides and lifters, so that doesn’t leave much else besides the oil pump / oil flow issues.


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Well I guess I could pull the plugs and lifters and turn the engine over like that with the pressure gauge installed and see if anything is funky that way.

Is it possible to back flush without pulling the pump? It's been a good long while since I've been inside a vg30 but I really dont want to have to drop the pan and remove the pump

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Try the 5W-30. I found years ago when building a Frankenstein NAPS-Z for my 1980 200sx 25 years ago that Nissan engines were harder to build than old American engines due to the much tighter tolerances required in them. Those tight tolerances make using higher viscosity oils a problem. 
Crazy idea, but I do suggest using a Nissan oil filter and the 5W-30 that Nissan recommends for your engine. 
My previously mentioned 200sx had what I initially thought was valve clatter, it had solid lifters so did require valve adjustments, but after checking several times finally did track it down to the injectors in that engine. 
 
My 93 Pathfinder had a crankshaft sprocket key fail at about 208k miles. The valves never made noise until they got introduced to the pistons. Milage is unknown on my current VG33 in that truck(3rd truck the engine has been installed in) and at hot idle, my oil pressure drops to less than 10 psi according to the Autometer pressure gauge I have in there currently. The valves are still quiet. This engine has had only 3 oil changes in the last 5 years, so not treated the best. Granted, the truck has had only about 7k miles in the last 5 years, but time does it's own damage to the oil. 
I've run wix filters on all my nissans and even subarus and never had any issue with them being too restrictive or anything and the more I find online of weird wear problems I'm sort of leaning towards a lack of oil to the heads now.

It still doesnt explain that random loud pop noise though unless a lifter is just being given hell in there lol

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My hearing is shot, and the speakers on my phone are not the best, so I have a hard time with diagnosing noises without being there in person. Random loud pops are not a noise I have ever heard from a valvetrain. I have run the full range of filters myself and my truck currently has a Parts Master filter on it. There is only like 5 oil filter manufacturers in the world, so the filter is not really an issue, but trying a manufacturer branded filter does eliminate a possibility of an incorrect filter valve/media issue. 

Just a random side track, the original VG30 in my 93 Pathfinder was happy with Bosch +4 sparkplugs and hated the factory NGKs. The current engine is the opposite. Just pointing out that they do have hard to explain quirks. 

 

 

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My hearing is shot, and the speakers on my phone are not the best, so I have a hard time with diagnosing noises without being there in person. Random loud pops are not a noise I have ever heard from a valvetrain. I have run the full range of filters myself and my truck currently has a Parts Master filter on it. There is only like 5 oil filter manufacturers in the world, so the filter is not really an issue, but trying a manufacturer branded filter does eliminate a possibility of an incorrect filter valve/media issue. 
Just a random side track, the original VG30 in my 93 Pathfinder was happy with Bosch +4 sparkplugs and hated the factory NGKs. The current engine is the opposite. Just pointing out that they do have hard to explain quirks. 
 
 
I'm not sure if itll help but the noise in question is that last pop in the video. It sounds different than the other chatter going on. I've never heard anything like it but I guess I'll be able to tell more when I run it with the cover off.

Regarding oil filters all these noises were present even with the old filter which was a purolator brand filter from car quest.

As for spark plugs I currently have Bosch bugs in there because at the time everyone was out of NGK plugs, they seem to be running alright though I do plan on changing them out at some point.

This thing is making me scratch parts of my brain that havent been used in a long time.

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Fired it up this morning and it was as quiet as could be until it got warmed up a little. I'm going to get some thinner oil and try that out so wish me luck!

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I went and swapped the oil out to conventional 5w20 and it drastically improved the noise but there's still some clattering going on somewhere in the engine. It doesnt sound like lifters anymore but more of a solid tapping like when a valve hits its seat really hard. 

 

If it is just valve chatter I can live with that but is there any other ways I can check to see if it really is just the valves?

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I haven’t tried 5w20 yet. The last time, and all other times I put thicker oil in, it takes an entire oil change interval before clearing up.

Something I’ve been noticing lately is that after an oil change, it’s like a wave, valve train noise increases until peaking at 3000 miles, and then starts decreasing again until it’s as quiet as a fresh oil change at 4000 miles. However I always change it around 4000.. don’t know exactly what that means, my theory is that the viscosity modifiers deteriorate rapidly until the higher base viscosity is reached causing poor flow and then oil dilution takes over returning lower viscosity and restoring flow.

The best results I’ve gotten so far are with 5w30 Rotella Gas Truck Oil and a Fram Gold filter. Supposedly the oil has a high dissolved molybdenum content in addition to zinc.


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I haven’t tried 5w20 yet. The last time, and all other times I put thicker oil in, it takes an entire oil change interval before clearing up.

Something I’ve been noticing lately is that after an oil change, it’s like a wave, valve train noise increases until peaking at 3000 miles, and then starts decreasing again until it’s as quiet as a fresh oil change at 4000 miles. However I always change it around 4000.. don’t know exactly what that means, my theory is that the viscosity modifiers deteriorate rapidly until the higher base viscosity is reached causing poor flow and then oil dilution takes over returning lower viscosity and restoring flow.

The best results I’ve gotten so far are with 5w30 Rotella Gas Truck Oil and a Fram Gold filter. Supposedly the oil has a high dissolved molybdenum content in addition to zinc.


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My plan was to run the truck like I normally do and when the next oil change interval comes up keep using the 5w20 and see how things are then. If push comes to shove and my boredom grows big enough I'll probably just snag a clean vg33 and swap that long block in with the tbi stuff and then slowly accumulate the stiff for a mpfi swap. Although I do love how easy it is to get to the valve covers with the tbi setup. 20 minutes and both covers are off.

Tomorrow is getting my ac working or atleast a vaccum drawn on the system after swapping to 134a components.

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