Engine Strange Engine Noise, Comes And Goes, Watch Video

Discussion in '3rd Gen 1997-2002 2.0L SOHC' started by thetubeamper, Feb 12, 2017.

  1. thetubeamper

    thetubeamper FEOA Donator

    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Hello, I've only owned my 97 Escort for a few weeks but I have noticed that at times it makes this odd noise from the harmonic balancer area, that will go away if I drive/continue to drive the car for a minute or two.

    The video basically explains the sound perfectly, and it seems to come from the harmonic balancer area. It almost sounds as if the timing cover were rubbing the belt or balancer, but I can't see how it could do so only intermittently (that and its tight as far as I can see).



    When you first listen to the video it may sound like a knock or something internal but if you listen closely it almost sounds like plastic or something rubbing on a gear.

    Any help is appreciated, thanks!
  2. 04Svt

    04Svt FEOA Member

    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    21
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Take the passenger side tire off. Remove the splash shield and take a look .
  3. thetubeamper

    thetubeamper FEOA Donator

    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    See there's a few problems with that. I'd have to catch the car while its doing it (only noticed it about 3 times since I owned the car for a few weeks), and be at home while I catch it, and have the weather nice enough that I can jack up the car right then and there and fiddle with it.

    Do you have anything in your mind that sticks out that you might think is causing this noise or do you believe something is literally rubbing the timing gear or balancer etc?
  4. 04Svt

    04Svt FEOA Member

    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    21
    Trophy Points:
    18
    If it doesn't do it all the time I would think something is rubbing.
    That's why I said to pull the splash shield off and look. The belt rides pretty close to the timing cover..who knows it could be cracked and with engine rpm it grabs the belt once in a while.
  5. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

    Messages:
    938
    Likes Received:
    179
    Trophy Points:
    293
    It could be the timing belt tensioner bearing wearing out. As it warms up, the grease inside moves around and the bearing quiets down. Eventually, one or more ball bearings disintegrate, the timing belt slips and loses a few teeth and the engine stops. How many miles on the car and has the timing belt ever been replaced?

    You could also remove the timing belt cover and drive the car like that to see if the noise gets louder or goes away completely.
  6. thetubeamper

    thetubeamper FEOA Donator

    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    I have to say I'd highly doubt that it's something like this, but I'm no expert myself. The thing that makes me think the timing belt tensioner is not the problem is just the fact that sometimes this noise will arise while driving or stopped, cold or hot. It's not a noise that has any triggers that I know of, I could let the car idle for 10 minutes and maybe it'll make the noise, maybe not, its completely random AFAIK.

    And the car has 73,000 Miles, and I can't imagine the timing belt was ever touched.

    Is also seems like a pain to remove the timing belt cover unless there is compelling evidence that there's a problem inside.

    So far this weekend looks like it'll be nice enough out that I'll probably take off the passenger tire and splash shield and inspect the harmonic balancer and timing cover.

    Thanks for the help.
  7. rbailin

    rbailin FEOA Member

    Messages:
    938
    Likes Received:
    179
    Trophy Points:
    293
    Tip: Soak the 10mm (head) bolts for the splash shield with penetrating oil for a few hours before you try to loosen them. They snap off easily from rust, so work them back & forth a lot. In addition to the bolts, there are 2 built-in clips on the shield you have to squeeze to release; don't just rip them out.

    The pain removing the timing cover is the lower 2 nuts. They much easier to get at from below after you remove the splash shield. Use a 6-point wrench or a small 1/4" ratchet; not a lot of room there. The 2 bottom holes in the cover are actually slots, so you only have to loosen the nuts several turns, not remove them.
  8. thetubeamper

    thetubeamper FEOA Donator

    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    I'll tell you what, I'm leaning towards this being a problem with the harmonic balancer. All of the other pulleys run perfectly true when spinning, but the other day I had the hood up while the motor was making this noise and I watched the harmonic balancer, it wobbles, it doesn't run perfectly straight.

    Question is, if I decide to replace the harmonic balancer (after further investigation) will the timing belt gear come off with it, or is the harmonic balancer separate?
  9. 04Svt

    04Svt FEOA Member

    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    21
    Trophy Points:
    18
    The timing belt will not come off when you take the balancer off.
  10. thetubeamper

    thetubeamper FEOA Donator

    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Okay well while looking for a new harmonic balancer I had the thought of perhaps getting a UDP instead. Someone on the forums here is willing to sell me a 25% UDP and I have a few questions for anyone who knows about UDP's and or had one.

    I love my rock solid charging voltage on my escort, will a 25% UDP effect it at idle? Will it make a noticeable difference in my powersteering or ac, etc. I guess I'm mainly asking, is there a catch? Or do you only really have problems with a 50% udp, not a 25?

    EDIT: Also wondering if our stock Harmonic Balancers actually have a rubber dampening part or special balancing etc that would be lost when switching over to a UDP.

    I wouldn't be looking for any miracle performance gains, as I baby my Escort, and would only really be buying the UDP to possibly improve MPG and throttle response.
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2017 at 4:39 PM
  11. 04Svt

    04Svt FEOA Member

    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    21
    Trophy Points:
    18
    I would just get a new stock one from a pick n pull.
  12. thetubeamper

    thetubeamper FEOA Donator

    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Well at a minimum if I don't get a UDP I'll order a brand new harmonic balancer, they're only about $40 and worth the time and effort of removing one in the junkyard and worrying if it's "bad" like mine (especially since I'm not sure how they go "bad")
  13. 04Svt

    04Svt FEOA Member

    Messages:
    112
    Likes Received:
    21
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Well 40 bucks isn't a bad investment.
    I would just do that..they usually go bad from old age, chemicals or just plain elements. A bad balance can damage the crankshaft. I would not drive it until you get a new one like you plan.
  14. Gamer92

    Gamer92 FEOA Donator

    Messages:
    2,885
    Likes Received:
    749
    Trophy Points:
    213
    Location:
    Southern Indiana

    Not sure about a 25% pulley but with my 50% pulley, the alternator doesn't not put out enough power. To fix this, you need a replacement pulley for the alternator From a mustang or something
  15. thetubeamper

    thetubeamper FEOA Donator

    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, USA
    Well after doing as much research on the subject that I could, I decided not to buy an underdrive pulley. The possibility of having to fiddle with alternator pulleys in addition to added strain on the crank bearings, on top of an $80 price tag was just too much for the potiential mpg or 2.

    I got a new Harmonic Balancer coming in on Friday, I'll probably install it on Sunday when the weather should be decent.

Share This Page