2001 Explorer Sport timing chain question. | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

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2001 Explorer Sport timing chain question.


New Member
January 14, 2011
Reaction score
City, State
St. JOHN's, NL
Year, Model & Trim Level
2001 Explorer Sport
I am in Newfoundland Canada. I have an '01 explorer sport. I am told there are 3 timing chains in this engine. On start up it's making a rattling noise which mechanic said is timing chain or tensioners but said has to be replaced. Ford dealership here quoted me $2500, wow! A local garage said 14 hours labour and parts. Does this sound right? I found a timig chain kit on EBay for 250 delivered from the states. The brand is CLOYES. It's compete kit which usually goes for over 500. I am wondering if I should order kit then bring to a backyard guy. What kinda prices have other ppl paid. Do I need all chains replaced or just tensioners! This is my first explorer, got it three weeks ago. It is an 01 with 120,000 kms. Leather sunroof fully loaded. please help. Thanks

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well, 2WDs have three timing chains, 4 WDs have four of 'em because of an additional balance shaft.

Before I go much deeper I'd like to know whether your '01 is only rattling at start up or does this rattling continue for some time.

Our very early 2002 developed a rattling noise on cold starts for five to ten seconds. I replaced both chain tensioners of the secondary chains. The secondary chains are the long ones that go from the jack shaft to the cams. After the tensioner replacement the '02 has been quiet. I'd like to tell you too, the 4.0 is a little 'oil sensitive', means a quality 5W/30 is important.

Cloyes timing chain kit

The Cloyes timing chain kit is the only aftermarket product I would consider purchasing. I was assured by one of the Cloyes engineers that their guides were produced by the same manufacturer that provides them to Ford as OEM items. $150 is a good price for the kit assuming it has the latest improvements (the last one was implemented in the 2002 model year). I'm tempted to buy it myself just for future possible use.

In order to replace the rear cassette the engine has to be removed from the vehicle. To time the camshafts a special timing kit (OTC-6488) is usually required which costs up to $200. You can usually save money by going to a reputable local mechanic compared to the dealer however make sure the mechanic has done at least one before successfully. If the mechanic is inexperienced the camshafts can be timed incorrectly and the valves will be struck by the pistons as soon as the engine is started.

You can learn more than you probably want to know by clicking on the helpful threads link in my signature and then clicking on timing chain related links.

eBay junk timing chain guides

Be very careful when purchasing timing chain kits on eBay. Some are just junk. The cassette guides are bent and flimsy with no metal reinforcement. Some vendors will list the quality product cross reference number but if they don't state the manufacturer of the kit being sold then they are probably inferior. One forum member bought an aftermarket hydraulic tensioner that seized immediately after engine start resulting in a broken rear guide assembly. I suggest that you ask the vendor the manufacturer name and part number before buying.

I'm doing that job today.

I bought a Sport, 1999, a little over half a year ago. I plan on driving it for at least 10 years, not too many miles a year.

I am not in a position to offer you advice about what to do, just thought I'd tell you about my adventure this far.

Today I am buttoning up the motor, putting the lift chains back on, and getting ready to set 'er back in. I was able to get a Cloyes at a super price, $250. I did notice that some of the cheaper offerings are so because they may not include some of the sprockets, a few of the sprockets, etc. Napa gets over 500 bucks for the whole deal. Tousley has been a very helpful source for parts from Ford online.

It is a huge job. My first time, but I was a mechanic (motorcycle, European) decades ago. Otherwise, I'd 'a never made it. I got an engine lift, motor stand, and the Ford timing tool kit from craigs for 200 bucks. It can't be done without jerking the motor. I had fun. I'm retired. It took everything I owned, tool wise. Even had to torch the ancient rusted manifold bolts off. Mice had made a home years ago in the center of the engine, top side. It made some parts unusable, since the acid mouse p welded some parts together. I only mention this because it is a big job that can get a lot bigger than the original quote.

The only reason I am doing the whole thing is because after hearing the really loud startup rattle just once, I never wanted to think about hearing it again. After inspecting the guts of the engine, I am very pleased. It appears to me that it will go on many many miles, since most specs are like new. This one had still the stock components except for the two tensioners which obviously had been replaced. One of them was the wrong one, which was failed, resulting in my rattle.

The scariest thing was while replacing the crank to jackshaft tensioner, I took my thumb and flexed the timing chain into the spring. That tensioner exploded into pieces from one little touch! Not too much life left in that thing.

After doing all this work, the Ford quote would be a bargain. I do not mind the hours since I am retired and having fun while using my Ranger until I finish this project. I need the 4 wheel drive for getting around in the snow, and boats in the summer.

Hope this helps y'awl a little. I have gotten immeasurable assistance from people on this forum.

Thank you everyone for your help. The rattling noise is on startup but after a minute or so it goes away. I am just tryin to figure out what a good price would be if I supplied the kit to a mechanic. Can anyone post a link for the exact Cloyes kit to order. I am Goin to do some online research for the best price. I love this explorer and want it running like a top. This site is amazing. Thanks to everyone again.