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Need input/advice whether I should attempt Timing Chain Replacement

SideTrackTap

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City, State
Jones, MI
Year, Model & Trim Level
2002 Explorer XLT 4X4
Edit/Update: Attempting Timing Rattle Fix on 02'

Hi All,

I have a 2002 Explorer XLT with about 160k miles. It has the 4.0L SOHC V6, it also has the dreaded timing chain rattle.

Thanks to 2000StreetRod's helpful posts, I have arrived here and need some help/advice.

I have owned the truck for about three years and shortly after buying it, I noticed this start-up "rattle" but until now, I didn't worry about it. After doing some research here, I replaced the the tensioners accessible from the outside of the block thinking (hoping) this would solve the issue as it was a cold start rattle. While it seemed to work for a week or so, it actually made the problem worse; turning the start-up rattle into a intermittent and more frequent rattle.

I can only assume I made the problem worse when changing the tensioner in the front and disturbing the possibly already broken guide/cassette that goes from the the jackshaft to the left camshaft.

The noise is only from the top front of the engine, so I'm assuming and hoping the rear/right timing chain and cassette is ok. I have not removed the valve covers yet mostly because I'm pretty sure this is the problem, also because I'm not sure if I'm qualified to do this repair or if I want to delve into this repair.

I have a moderate knowledge of auto repair. Doing my own brake work and PM. I did replace the radiator in this truck the first year I owned it. And I've done work on the Broncos I previously owned.

My tool collection is basic with a few specialty tools including a torque wrench, but no power tools.

My question is: Should I attempt this repair myself?

My biggest issues that I can see right now are: Getting the Harmonic Balancer off without any power tools, and messing with the timing of the engine (also purchasing the tool kit to do that at $200).

I really do enjoy the truck. It was a one owner, garage kept truck until I bought it. I had the transmission rebuilt two years ago, so I've been through that. Given I can get the engine issues corrected, this truck should last me a long time.

The truck is not a daily driver, so I could take my time with the repair. I also have the financial means to take it to a shop should I go that route (and I do know of a reputable shop).

Thanks in advance,

Chris

(Thread previously titled: Need input/advice whether I should attempt Timing Chain Replacement)
 



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impact tools

The only impact tool I have is a 4 lb hand sledge hammer and I've been able to do quite a few things. Since you have the time, alternative transportation, and inclination I encourage you to do the replacement yourself. That way you'll improve your automotive repair skills and take credit for the accomplishment. If you start a thread and ask questions you'll get plenty of help from members of this forum.

Do you have AWD or RWD?
 






The only impact tool I have is a 4 lb hand sledge hammer and I've been able to do quite a few things. Since you have the time, alternative transportation, and inclination I encourage you to do the replacement yourself. That way you'll improve your automotive repair skills and take credit for the accomplishment. If you start a thread and ask questions you'll get plenty of help from members of this forum.

Do you have AWD or RWD?

It is AWD. And thank you for taking the time to document all the work you've done on your truck. I've been doing a lot of reading. :)
 






buy parts as needed

Since you won't be in a hurry I suggest that you wait on purchasing parts until you determine what's actually failed. Rattles echo within the walls of the block making locating by external sound unreliable. You may find after inspection that your front cassette is fine and instead your primary chain tensioner and/or your balance shaft chain tensioner needs replacement. At least one member has been able to replace the balance shaft chain tensioner (except the base) without removing the block cradle which is a pain with AWD.
 






Thanks StreetRod. I'll probably get the valve cover off first to get my feet wet, look at the situation and go from there.

Chris
 






known safe position

Before removing the harmonic balancer I suggest that you rotate the crankshaft until piston 1 is at TDC on the compression stroke. After that, avoid rotating the crankshaft or the camshafts when any of the sprocket retaining bolts are loose.
 






amen to what streetrod said

I'm several weeks into this job (Ann Arbor), and want to echo what Streetrod said. Make sure you have lots of time to do this job.

I bought my late-build 2002 XLS (2wd) with a dead engine but a good body, figuring I'd have to do this job--and was correct. The right rear (passenger side) chain guide had blown apart, spewing plastic and even metal parts, and causing the right rear jackshaft bolt to loosen (losing timing on that bank), and bending the three exhaust valves on cylinders 1,2,3. The engine has 179,300 miles on it.

My engine had the beefed up front guides, which did not fail. But Ford did not redesign the right (rear) guide, and that one requires a engine pull. (Some say that it can be done with a trans pull, but seems iffy to me, at least w/o a lift.)

Took me several days to pull the engine and get it on a stand. If you plan to keep the truck for years, it probably makes sense to pull the heads and do at least a upper-engine rebuild (valve job and new head gasket/bolts) while your at it. Would suck to have a head gasket blow 15k miles after doing the timing chains... (Get a high quality T55 1/2" drive socket to remove/install main 12mm headbolts--like a gearwrench.)

I elected to pull the oil pans (upper and lower) and the pistons, too, so that I could put new rings in. Frankly, this (removing oil pans) is very necessary if you shatter any of the timing cassettes, if only to thoroughly clean out the debris. I was amazed at how clean the cylinders where--no ridges or scoring. They looked like the engine could have had 20k miles on it. The old rings were pretty crudded up, however. I was able to use "standard" rings on the rebuild (not expensive from Rockauto). I replaced the rod bearings, too, but probably did not need to (the standard-sized replacements are exactly the same thickness as the ones I pulled off, just smoother finish than the old).

I was so impressed by the integrity of the engine block that I feel confident that I can get another 100k+ miles out of this rebuild. Auto Parts Machine Shop in Ann Arbor did a great job on the heads for around $350.

I'm working outside so striving to finish before the cold weather hits.

Right now, the hang up is that when the right rear cassette blew, it caused damage to one of the smaller diameter head bolt threaded holes bored into the cavity through which the timing chain passes. While the torque on this bolt is only 24 ft/lbs (its only an oil seal), this threatens the integrity of the block. My expert buddy has fashioned a special tool (half-inch steel, hardened drill busing pressed in with a 20k-lb press into the plate, etc.) and we plan to threaded a soft 8mm rod into whats left of the headbolt hole, cut it flush with the top of the block, weld through the cavity to build up structure, after which he'll use the tool to drill out the threaded rod and insert a Timecert to repair the damage. We hope.

Bottom line is that if that either the left or right cassette blows you risk a whole lot of damage/expense/pain. What is more, these are very solid engines with the chains replaced. If you do the job, I'd recommend replacing at least the primary and the two camshaft cassettes/guides/tensioners. (NB: even though I have a 2wd, I had the fourth timing chain/balancer; I replaced all four assemblies). You don't want to do this job again. If you do this job before the cassettes blow, you can choose to leave the heads on if you want to, and whether or not you pull the heads you can save a considerable amount of time/hassle by leaving the upper oil pan (aka "ladder" or "girdle") on--since the bottom of this engine is so solid. If you wait for a cassette to disintegrate you'll have no choice but to go all in.

I recommend the Cloyes kits/parts from Rockauto over the knock-off ebay stuff, 'cause its just too much time/effort/expense to risk other than oem parts on this job. Good luck. Drew.

p.s. If you decide to do the job and want to rent the OTC timing tools (or buy at a discount), send me a p.m.
 






It is best to let an experienced person do it. To do it properly, engine removal is a must. No way to get the timing tools set up properly in the truck.
 






Do it yourself. i did my 07. Took a couple months, but I had another truck and a heated garage. Kept me busy from November to January, and I learned a lot about the garbage ford is trying to pass off as an engine.
 






Thanks for the write-up Drew. I've been putting this off just because I know it's a big job. I'm hoping to pull the valve cover off the driver side shortly to see what the chain and guide look like. I'm 99% sure the rattle is from the front, and the rear chain and guide are ok.

I'm hoping to keep the truck for a while. The body is solid, but needs some attention. With a rebuilt trans a couple years ago, and assuming I get this ironed out, it should last me. Now I'm wondering if I should go "all-in" now like you said...

I was hoping to get away with just the fronts for now. It's going to be a big enough ordeal as it is without having to pull the engine.

Thanks for the offer on the timing tool kit, but I ended up buying one of eBay from a guy that just used it once. I'm sure I'll just resell it there too when I'm done.

It is best to let an experienced person do it. To do it properly, engine removal is a must. No way to get the timing tools set up properly in the truck.

^^ Does this apply if I'm only doing the front timing chains and I try and use the tool kit?

Thanks everyone for their input,

Chris
 






you can do it

Since you have the timing tool kit and your model is a 2002 (don't have to pull the head to replace the front cassette) you should be able to do the replacement yourself. All you have to do is take your time and carefully follow the step by step procedures that are posted on the forum. If you have questions or problems just post them and you will get plenty of help from forum members. There are many repair shops with personnel that have no first hand experience with the engine. If the engine is not properly assembled and timed correctly valves can be damaged upon engine start. You don't want someone learning at your expense.
 






After months of procrastination and hesitation, I finally got started today. I got as far as removing the intake manifold. Then, as I was test-fitting my 5/16 deep socket on the lower-rear bolt for the valve cover, I dropped it. Easily an hour later, I still did not find it. I don't think it hit the ground and is trapped somewhere in the truck. I hope this is not foreshadowing how the rest of the project is going to go... Anyway, tomorrow I'll get a fresh start and get a new socket and finally see what I have under the valve cover and go from there.

The intake manifold proved to be more challenging than I thought, mainly because of all the wires and vacuum lines attached to the darn thing. But, it's off.

I was also quickly reminded of why I dislike Haynes manuals. "Remove air duct to air filter box (see chapter 6). Remove EGR pipe (see chapter 5)", etc. I did so much page flipping it was rediculous. Sorry... Rant over. :D

Thanks again to all that have contributed. I will try my best to keep this updated as I go along. Hopefully the information will be of use to someone down the road. And thank you StreetRod for all your work in documenting these repair processes and your encouragement.

Attached is a picture of tonight's progress.

Chris
 

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workshop manual

I have a magnet mounted on an extendible wand to retrieve fumble fingers flubs. I've used it many times to get things I can't even see. I'm glad to see you've stuffed towels in the head intake ports.

I have a 2002 Explorer workshop manual. If you have any questions the manual may be helpful.
 






I'd be more concerned if it went smoothly, then you'd know you forgot to do something critical. If you don't get to a point where you are doubting yourself, then your doing something wrong.

Patience. Take breaks.
 






I have a magnet mounted on an extendible wand to retrieve fumble fingers flubs. I've used it many times to get things I can't even see. I'm glad to see you've stuffed towels in the head intake ports.

I have a 2002 Explorer workshop manual. If you have any questions the manual may be helpful.

I do have a Craftsman magnetic wand that I tried fishing around with, but for the life of me, I can't find the socket. Surprisingly, I remained quite calm. I even tried to "recreate" the flub with another socket, but they just dropped to the ground.

I had a lot of bugs and dirt around the intake ports. I wish I had blown that area out before I started. As it was, a couple bugs fell down the ports when I took off the intake. I'll be doing a clean-out and inspection before I reinstall.

Thanks for the offer on the manual, I may take you up on it (they are surprisingly hard to find on ebay).

I'd be more concerned if it went smoothly, then you'd know you forgot to do something critical. If you don't get to a point where you are doubting yourself, then your doing something wrong.

Patience. Take breaks.

Then we are good there, I'm always doubting myself. :D It's definitely nice not working under the gun. I can take as many breaks I need if I get frustrated, and I'm sure it will happen.

Chris
 












Soak those valve cover bolts/studs a long time. Mine had corroded horribly. They are 8mm, but half of them had to be removed (even out of truck) by pounding a 7 mm deep socket on there. Ford dealer wants $$ to replace them (there are three different part numbers, believe it or not); I managed to get by only replacing 2 and painting w/ a white dot the ones that now need a 7mm socket! They're called "insulators" by Ford, btw, and the Felpro valve cover gasket kit includes new doughnuts that go around the middle.
 






http://search.ebscohost.com/
user name and password are both tech.

Awesome. Thank you, Tech!

Soak those valve cover bolts/studs a long time. Mine had corroded horribly. They are 8mm, but half of them had to be removed (even out of truck) by pounding a 7 mm deep socket on there. Ford dealer wants $$ to replace them (there are three different part numbers, believe it or not); I managed to get by only replacing 2 and painting w/ a white dot the ones that now need a 7mm socket! They're called "insulators" by Ford, btw, and the Felpro valve cover gasket kit includes new doughnuts that go around the middle.

Funny you should bring this up. 5/16 seemed to work good when I test fitted the socket last night (and lost it). I got all bolts loose today with a replacement socket with minimal effort except the bottom rear bolt in which the head stripped out. So I did the exact same thing as you and forced a smaller socket on, then I was able to remove it. Wasn't looking forward on seeing what they cost to replace... :eek:

Good to know they are actually 8mm, thank you. I'll start soaking the Passenger side cover now as I'll probably at the least change the valve cover gasket since I have this apart (assuming/hoping I don't have to get at the rear timing chain). And thanks for the heads up on the gasket set.

Chris
 






Pleasantly surprised (I think).

Well, I got the driver side valve cover off and here is what I found...

First I was pleasantly surprised that there was very little sludge in there. Second, I THINK the front timing chain (from jackshaft to camshaft) and guide are intact. Pictures below. I think I took good enough pictures to make a good judgment.

So, assuming the front camshaft chain and guide are intact, what should be my next step?

Getting to the main timing chain in the front of the engine and inspecting that? (I'm pretty sure the rattle is coming from the front of the engine)

Or should I take off the passenger valve cover and get a look at the rear camshaft chain and guide? Like I said in the above post, I probably will change the valve cover gasket too since I have this all apart right now.

I did pick up the fan/clutch removal wrenches today, unfortunately they work better putting the fan/clutch on, than taking them off. The wrenches are too big, so I need to find something else.

Pictures for you to mull over:

Chris
 

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Try to use impact where you can. In many cases it can prevent the head from stripping due to the pounding force.
 






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