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help diagnosing engine noise?

 
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Old 03-31-2010, 03:52 PM
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help diagnosing engine noise?

So, today I checked out a sweet '97 H22A Prelude in mint condition. Everything seems perfect, except for the motor. It's got a nasty tapping noise from the valve cover area, almost sounds like a diesel. You can hear it for yourself here:



I was able to drive it around the parking lot, but couldn't take it on the road, no chance to engage VTEC, but seemed to run fine in the lot.

Dealer claimed that the noise happened suddenly as he was driving, but that the shop couldn't tell him anything without taking it apart. Price is at least $1,000 under market...

I'm a decent home mechanic (managed an engine swap on my own a few years ago), but I'm not too good with noises. Any ideas as to what this might be? Simple valve adjustment? Cam bearings? I noticed two empty bottles of oil in the trunk: not a good sign. No evidence of smoke in the exhaust, or valve cover gasket leaks. No CEL, either.

Worth the gamble? Thanks for your ideas!
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Old 04-01-2010, 06:19 PM
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Re: help diagnosing engine noise?

Dropping valve or timing is off sounds exactly like my corolla before it dropped a valve and grenaded my head and block in one shot. I wouldnt buy it unless they did a valve adjustment and had proof. If they arent attempting to clear it by having diag alone done probability is it isnt a simple fix. Im not going to say it is fubarred but I would tell you to hope for the best and prepare for a costly fix down the road if you buy it. Cam bearings be a culprit but crank and cam bearings tend to make a louder and scarier clank at acceleration.
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Old 04-05-2010, 02:17 PM
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Re: help diagnosing engine noise?

The car was so cheap that I figured worst case, I'd just swap the motor out. So, I went ahead and bought it. Well, the dealer delivered the car to the house, and I pulled the valve cover off right away, and it looked like a chocolate milkshake in there.

The coolant reservoir and under the radiator cap looks like there's no oil in there, but based on the empty coolant bottles in the trunk, I can only assume that they refilled the coolant just prior to me checking the car out.

At this point, I'm having a hard time deciding if I should replace the head gasket, and try to track down the cause of the noise, or just swap in a good motor. I'd hate to waste time and money replacing gaskets, belts, etc, when it could be a cracked head or block. Also don't know how much the previous owner ran it in this condition, and the potential for bearings to be shot...

Does coolant in the oil help with figuring out where the noise is coming from?

I've also heard of a bad oil cooler causing coolant in the oil, but haven't really seen mention of it on Prelude forums. Anyone have any experience with it?

Advice and feedback are definitely appreciated!
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