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Discussion Starter #1
On my drive home last night I noticed my car had started ticking, don't know when it started since I couldn't hear it until I got off an interstate. So there's the first clue, can't be heard over 80mph wind noise.

I drove the last couple miles home since there was no DTC and I decided I didn't care if the engine died. Amazing what sleep deprivation will do to decision making skills.

The noise is clearly coming from the engine, seems like it is road speed dependent but it was hard to hear over the noise of driving and that also doesn't make sense. Probably discount that. The timbre changes at idle, it's a louder more aggressive sounding tick at idle.

I haven't done anything with it yet this morning, I've been dealing with well issues in my new house and have completely disassembled the suspension on my Subaru in the past few days for an overhaul, too. Perfect time for my other car to decided top have problems.

Anyway, I've ruled out the fans. It's not the cam timing chain, definitely not that kind of noise. It sounds like valvetrain noise, but I'm not sure about that. I hope it's not a connecting rod bearing, I'd rather not scrap this car or have to do an engine rebuild in my shed, though it would be a good excuse to buy an engine hoist.

Sounds like it's coming from the front of the engine, but half my tools are packed still so I don't have my stethoscope available. Or a long enough screw driver. Could the clutch on the alternator or A/C make a similar noise to a stuck lifter? Is there anything that I'm not thinking of?

I just re-did the timing because of a leaking water pump about 3,000 miles ago, and actually paid a VW specialist shop to do it for me since I was in the middle of packing to move at the time. So there's that, too.

Someone give me good news? Or at least a place to go that's not so depressing?
 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Good news, bad news.

Nevermind. [Strike]Good news is I started with an oil change because it was due anyway and the noise is gone. All that remains is normal annoying 1.8t valvetrain noises and a small exhaust leak from the flexpipe.[/Strike]

Bad news is I was in the neighborhood of a pint low on oil and the magnet on the drainplug had a nice metal paste on it. I don't see any obvious oil leaks, but I'm going to purple power the likely places and see what develops. I haven't smelled any burning oil, but a pint over 6,000 miles or so might not smell anyway, right?

I let it idle up to operating temperature and the noise came back, though not as bad as last night. This time I had my phone handy:
 

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Half a quart low should not present any issues. How many miles are on the motor? My 225k 1.8t makes odd noises towards the end of it's oil change period, but go away with new oil and it wasn't low.
 

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Metal particals in the pan and repetitive clunking at crankshaft rate are never good. Any idea what the oil pressure is?
 

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I had my hydraulic timing belt tensioner fail with about 40k miles on it and sounded very similar to that. It's very easy to check out. Pop the plastic cover off of the top of the timing belt and see if you can push the tensioner pulley down by hand. That's how I diagnosed mine and got very lucky in the process.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I don't know the oil pressure, I'll have to figure out which of the boxes my gauge is in. I'll report back eventually.

If it's the timing tensioner I'm going to set the car on fire. I did the timing on schedule, used VW branded parts and the new design water pump. The tensioner failed 12k later and the belt skipped one tooth. Did the timing service again, didn't change the water pump again since it was basically new. 5k or so later, water pump is leaking so I did the timing service again using Dayco parts. If I have to pull the entire front end off the car for another timing service I am going to be... very upset.

But I'll check it out.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
I had my hydraulic timing belt tensioner fail with about 40k miles on it and sounded very similar to that. It's very easy to check out. Pop the plastic cover off of the top of the timing belt and see if you can push the tensioner pulley down by hand. That's how I diagnosed mine and got very lucky in the process.
Tensioner is fine, but you inadvertantly made me very happy. And a bit frustrated. I decided, since I had the timing cover off already, to run the engine and see if I could further localize the sound. In doing that I leaned on the hood latch and the noise changed. After more poking and tugging I found the source: the support bar that runs down the back side of the radiator popped out of its hole and was flopping around vibrating on the crankshaft pulley. Of course I still haven't managed to make it go where it is supposed to, but I can make the ticking stop whenever I want. As long as I'm standing at the front of the car with the hood open.

So, thanks!

Now if only I could MAKE IT GO BACK WHERE IT BELONGS!

Made it go back. Problem solved. All it took was a punch and a framing hammer. And a couple beers after the fact.

Thanks for the help, everyone.
 

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Awesome! congrats. Hope they were good beers.
 
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