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Clattering noise

Mr. Alligator

Elite Explorer
November 30, 2014
Reaction score
City, State
Tampa, Florida
Year, Model & Trim Level
1997 XLT Explorer
Good evening Ford Crew.

1997 Ford Explorer, SOHC 4.0. I have driven this truck since it was brand new, and am very familiar with multiple timing chain issues, and how the death rattle sounds: usually starting mostly with rattle on cold starts, aggraveted by colder weather. usually not present after motor warms up.

This noise is different... AFTER having a rebuilt engine installed 30,000 miles ago, I noticed that as the engine warmed up, a clatter from the center/top area of engine developes. This never happens when engine is cold, and consistently develops after the engine is fully warmed up. The noise sounds like a few marbles inside the top of the engine. After the engine is warm, the clattering noise is constant, and does not change or go away. It increases in speed and frequency until it can not be heard at higher RPM.

The rebuild mechanic says no problem (of course), and I vague recall that my new engine twenty years ago made a similar disconcerting noise.

Any ideas? Anyone else have this?

Thanks in advance.


Well-Known Member
March 29, 2006
Reaction score
City, State
Vista, CA
Year, Model & Trim Level
1996 XL
Without hearing the actual noise I am only speculating. Mechanics Stethoscope/rubber hose screwdriver could be used to narrow down the area at the "top of the motor". Once pinpointed a better diagnosis could rule out other possible causes. I would also pull my valve covers and look and see if anything is loose or bouncing around. Re-torque rock arm assembly. With the mileage you have on it, a recessed valve seat could create a noise like that under the conditions you described. Ford cylinder heads from that era are known for this. However, a recessed valve seat is often accompanied by a misfire code.