Noisy timing belt tensioner ????? - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-12-2016, 10:09 AM Thread Starter
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Noisy timing belt tensioner ?????

This is probably a stupid question, but has anyone ever had the hubcentric or concentric timing belt tensioner pulley/bearing go bad and it squeals. I went for a drive yesterday, and about 10 miles from home something started squealing under the hood, I first thought it sounded like a internal engine bearing or something as it sounded extremely heavy and rattly and was getting much louder. However when I got home (I decided to drive and hope for the best) I poured some water over the front of the engine and the noise ceased (praise Jesus) and today I started it, almost gave up the noise repeating itself when finally it did, I wet the vacuum pump, water pump, then timing belt tensioner and I believe thats the culprit (TBT). The belt does not appear loose at all! Looks like the Lotus needs some money to go shopping I havent given it much lately. I dont count my wheels cause they were elective.

Im probably biting my time til it takes out the belt, im already on borrowed time im sure with the 10 miles I've already driven it.

Whats the opinion the "Blue Belt" or should I stick with the stock timing belt yet again this time around?

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post #2 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-12-2016, 11:34 AM
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A few years ago some suppliers got a batch of tensioner bearings that failed early.


Ask Tom M @mieczkow , Jim K @lotus4s, or Randy @89.5 Esprit SE.

If you look for a new tensioner the Flennor brand was 'known-good'. Ask when you re-order (either RD Enterprises or JAE)

Atwell Haines
'88 Esprit
Succasunna, NJ USA


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post #3 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-15-2016, 03:30 AM
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That's not a good sound,,dry sealed bearings going out to lunch.
Better then a belt coffee break.
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post #4 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-15-2016, 04:29 AM
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Another owner just told me that JAE currently (March 2016) does not offer the eccentric and idler as an assembly. The old eccentric must be pressed off and pressed back into the new bearing.

Atwell Haines
'88 Esprit
Succasunna, NJ USA


"Not all angels have wings." - Turbo R
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post #5 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-15-2016, 10:14 AM
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Pouring water down the front of the engine isn't really a surefire way of identifying the problem. I systematically remove one belt at a time (alt, water pump then A/C ) running the engine a brief period each time to see if its something else (I.E alternator bearing, water pump bearing, Vacuum pump, or simply a loose belt that slips under load) Its not that difficult and its waaaay easier than replacing the tensioner only to discover its not the cause.
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post #6 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-15-2016, 11:44 AM Thread Starter
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I did go a step further after pouring water down the front of the motor to determine the cause of the noise. That pouring water was just a quick "holy ****" is that an internal engine noise test. Which it wasnt, so it calmed my anxiety as quickly as the noise appeared. I have several methods to pinpoint the noise more scientificallly with the car in my shop.

I called JAE and have a Flennor bearing on the way, apparently there were some bad ones, in the time frame of last year when I did the belt, I do it every two years regularly.

I did find another Lotus forum post that someone did, with the exact noise my tensioner was making in a video.

I decided to stick with the stock belt and not the blue as I know the belt tension for the stock belt after installing 3 previously just by feel. Its funny how after doing these belts numerous times its not as much of a job any longer, but I repair other equipment daily that can be a PITA so im used to those kinda knuckle busting jobs.

Looking forward to putting some miles on the car this summer "maintenance free" fingers crossed!
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post #7 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-15-2016, 11:54 AM
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Every two years for a belt? Wow!

2016 Chevy Cruze, manual
1987 Lotus Esprit Turbo HCi
2005 Elise
1981 DeLorean, manual, EFI conversion
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post #8 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-15-2016, 12:54 PM
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Were the Flennors bad or another brand? I got a Flennor from JAE around that time period. Thanks.

Pete
94 S4
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post #9 of 26 (permalink) Old 03-15-2016, 07:48 PM Thread Starter
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From what I read online the bearings in the time period (1 yr ago, but who knows really) with a black rubber seal, I specifically mentioned SKF (I dont know whats on my car yet til I get it off) when talking to JAE and they asked me what color the seal was and I told them black, so im assuming SKF is the bad one, and flennor (yellow seal) is a good one. This will be the first time I have had the flennor bearing.

I have had the timing belt on and off more often than changing it due to messing with the position of the distributor pulley (any new owners with GM EFI cars are lucky you dont have to mess with this and probably dont know what im talking about). I probably had the cam belt on and off at least 7-8 times since owning the car, or at least had to slacken it to do something, like replacing the distributor. I just didnt change the belt everytime it has been off.

Cam belt replacement would be far easier without having to note the position of the distributor pulley, its markings are hard to find, I usually end up making a new one everytime I do the belt. If this pulley is not in the correct tooth position, the distributor doesnt have enuf movement to make the proper ignition timing and the vacuum capsule will contact the engine block, PITA the first few times let me tell ya.

Does two years seem too long?
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post #10 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-18-2016, 03:23 PM
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Hi all,

I have what I think is a nosing bearing. We were guessing it might be the alternator but after reading this , it sounds like it might be the tensioner? Has anyone had an alternator bearing go out at 28,000 easy miles? I have a 2011 sc Elise. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks much, ray
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post #11 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-18-2016, 03:27 PM
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Hi Ray,

Be aware that we are talking about Esprit engines in this Topic.

Atwell Haines
'88 Esprit
Succasunna, NJ USA


"Not all angels have wings." - Turbo R
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post #12 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-18-2016, 07:56 PM
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The bad bearings we had in the shop were from JAE and had a blue seal. Jeff and Jay made good on the bearings and switched over to supplying Flennor, the yellow seal bearing. Since then we have used only Flennor and have had no more failures. JAE had received a bad batch from the UK as I understand it.

As far as diagnosis of the problem, well first off it is loud as hell, a very high pitched squeal and seems to be coming from deep in the engine. A mechanic's stethoscope can help you pinpoint it. And, as noted above you can strip away the other belts one at a time and briefly run the engine to distinguish the alternator, water pump, or AC compressor belts. But once you have heard this rather distinctive squeal you will not confuse it with anything else.

Tom

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post #13 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-19-2016, 08:05 AM
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Had my mechanic change the timing belt(black belt came with the car at purchase time), water pump, tensioner(black seal - came with car), v-belts and coolant hoses 2 years ago. (Fast forward 2000 miles) I was getting a medium pitch squealing noise after driving for a bit which I could not locate. Left the boot up to allow the engine to cool and by chance seen a small wet spot starting to trickle down the cambelt. Upon closer inspection the culprit was a loose hose clamp on the coolant hose above the cambelt. Retightened and installed a second clamp for good measure. Cleared up squeal #1.

Last fall squeal#2 appeared at random. More of a low pitch dry growling bearing noise - as if a bearing is in the early stages of failure? Thinking I should have the cambelt and tensioner changed out again for peace of mind. This time I will go with the Flennor bearing (yellow seal).
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post #14 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-19-2016, 12:43 PM
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I changed my timing belt and pulleys about 3 years ago (only about 1500 miles of driving since then.) I bought all the parts from JAE. I've always had a slight chirping noise ever since that work was done and I couldn't find the culprit. It's never been bad and usually goes away once the engine is warmed up. I wonder if it's that bearing....
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post #15 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-19-2016, 04:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by QuadCam View Post
I changed my timing belt and pulleys about 3 years ago (only about 1500 miles of driving since then.) I bought all the parts from JAE. I've always had a slight chirping noise ever since that work was done and I couldn't find the culprit. It's never been bad and usually goes away once the engine is warmed up. I wonder if it's that bearing....
I've got the slight chirping noise as well. Lasts about 10 or 20 seconds on a cold start. I replaced the timing belt last year and used a Flennor from JAE. Glad to see that you've had it for a few years with no serious problems. I'm going to live with mine unless it becomes more prevalent.

Pete
94 S4
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post #16 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-19-2016, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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The tensioner noise I had gotten showed up right after I pushed the car real hard then stopped for gas. I came out to restart it and the noise showed up instantly and loud, the more I drove it quieted down. However once I got home it was loud again. Upon restarting the car a few days later it had no noise, I had to let it warm up for it to reappear, then upon using my auto stethoscope of course it was intermittant, but finally it was consistant enuf and loud enuf to hear that it had to be the tensioner bearing.
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post #17 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-20-2016, 07:19 AM
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For what it's worth, I thought my tensioner was squealing as well, but after having removed the engine last week, realized it was my recently rebuilt vacuum pump.
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post #18 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-22-2016, 08:47 AM
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Does anyone know approximately what year the bad bearings went around? I installed a blue belt in July of 2012 and do not remember the seal color.

Thanks,
Robert
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post #19 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-22-2016, 12:00 PM
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Originally Posted by Type82 View Post
Does anyone know approximately what year the bad bearings went around? I installed a blue belt in July of 2012 and do not remember the seal color.

Thanks,
Robert
Can you use Special Lotus Tool Number 7 (a telescopic inspection mirror) to see if your bearing has the yellow color?

Or call JAE and ask...

Atwell Haines
'88 Esprit
Succasunna, NJ USA


"Not all angels have wings." - Turbo R
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post #20 of 26 (permalink) Old 04-22-2016, 10:02 PM
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Tried JAE, got the recorded message of business hours. Going to do an oil change soon... will have a look from down under.
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