Piston Slap: Riddle Me This, Timing Chain Rattle

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
We’re committed to finding, researching, and recommending the best products. We earn commissions from purchases you make using links in our articles. Learn more here
piston slap riddle me this timing chain rattle

But wait…there is less???

Sajeev writes:

As the Christmas Spirit draws near and Pistonheads relax with thoughts of good vehicular cheer…screw it, I’ll get to the point:

Can timing chain rattle on start-up magically resolve itself after a mere tune up?

Sajeev continues:

Yes, after changing plugs, fuel filter, PCV valve, and a very necessary cleaning of an ancient K&N filter. The vehicle in question is my lightly-modified 1995 Lincoln Mark VIII LSC with 180,000 miles.

The early 32-valve, teksid block Ford V8s suffered from an obnoxious (yet harmless) timing chain rattle on start-up. I’ve owned this car for 11 years and, like all of its ilk, the rattle almost always rears its ugly head. Even after switching to Mobil 1 Synthetic.

That is, until this tune up.


I’ve been driving the Mark for 100+ miles over 4 days to-and-from work and Christmas shopping destinations: the timing chain has yet to rattle on start-up.

It’s the textbook definition of “added perk” to go with the improved idle, extra power and 1-2 MPG fuel economy improvement normally earned via tune up. But it’s still running the same oil and the outside temperature/weather hasn’t changed. This makes absolutely no sense, and Google agrees with its lack of click-to-quick-resolution.

Perhaps the Mark remembered what the MKS looks like, deciding to straighten up/fly right as it’s the last Lincoln that people would maybe-kinda give a crap about? (oops, sorry LS fans)

Off to you, Best and Brightest.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

Sajeev Mehta
Sajeev Mehta

More by Sajeev Mehta

Join the conversation
3 of 31 comments
  • Wmba Wmba on Dec 25, 2014

    Ah yes, timing chains. When someone invents guides that don't get chewed by them and last forever, I shall rely on timing belts, quieter, not prone to stretch and part of the maintenance schedule. The man on the street, aggravated by the cost of a scheduled belt replacement, would rather play poker with a timing chain, whose demise is entirely unpredictable in these days of oil thinner than Evian, particularly when a single-row chain is hardly good enough for a bicycle, let alone two or four cams and much higher lineal velocity.. Chains - out of sight, out of mind till poof! You're on your own.

    • Exfordtech Exfordtech on Dec 25, 2014

      99 Continental 32 valve Intech 215k all original except for 2 spark plug replacements, one serpentine belt. Motorcraft 5w20 semi synthetic. No leaks, no noise, no smoke. Factory air filtration. AX4N on the other hand I've overhauled once. Only other parts on the vehicle beyond brakes and fluid maintenance has been a pair of rear air springs, lower front ball joints, right front hub and bearing assy, front stabilizer links and a serp belt. I'd love to find a way to put a 6F50 in it because the only weak spot in it is the transmission. 98 Grand Marquis 170k same type of maintenance and not a peep out of the motor.

  • Relton Relton on Dec 25, 2014

    I found the oil filter to be more important in reducing or eliminating timing chain noise on startup than the kind or viscosity of oil. All recommended oil filters for this engine have anti-drainback valves, but some work better than others. WIX filters seemed to be more effective than others. The last 50,000 miles I drove my Mark VIII I had no timing chain noise. It's a real project to change the tensioners on this engine. When I had a class on designing for serviceablilty, back in 2000, they used the Mark VIII as a bad example in a number of areas, and that was one of them. As an aside, I found some notes about the modifications I made to the air suspension. Sajeev, if you are interested, e-mail me, relton@provide.net . Shimming the air springs increased the spring rate nicely, especially at the rear. Bob

  • MaintenanceCosts So there is no Sonata trim without some type of Theta engine.It seems like they've been doing a bit better when attached to a hybrid system, so that's probably the one to get, but they're going to have to go several years without further engine troubles before I'd trust a H/K ICE product again.
  • Lou_BC Full sized sort of autonomous RC's. Cute.
  • Art_Vandelay Autonomous capabilities are being deployed (or planned anyway) in multiple combat vehicles. Should be fun from my perspective
  • Drew8MR Interior is trivial now you can get repro everything in various levels of quality. Getting the top sorted will be a couple grand, but I'd drive it as it. I drove a $1500 67 GTO convertible for 20 years, not every old car needs to be like new.
  • John Not everyone pays that much for power. Mine is 10 cents per kw…..