Piston Slap: The Lambda V6 Half Life? (Part II)

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
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piston slap the lambda v6 half life part ii

Dennis writes:

You kindly responded last year to me in regards to an inquiry I made about my 2006 Sonata with the V6. I am still in love with my old beastie. She is approaching 93,000 miles and I just had new plugs and upper front control arms put into the ol’ gal.

I read some forums that go on and on about this model year’s engine having problems with the Timing Chain Tensioner. I took her to the dealer to have it checked….they did not hear any odd noises to warrant my concerns. However, in my extreme car paranoia, I swear on cold mornings I hear a rattle coming from the engine. My question?

Since I plan on driving this car another 4-5 years, do I do a pre-emptive strike and get the tensioner replaced now? I guess it was made of a plastic that tends to self destruct causing all kinds of horror to occur with the Timing chain?

Your advice is always appreciated.

Sajeev answers:

Are you telling me you didn’t even consider my LS4-FTW swap advice? Come on, Son!

Now, according to the Interwebs (and my gut feeling), timing chain rattle upon start up isn’t the end of the world. Hell, my Lincoln Mark VIII’s chain rattles for 1-2 seconds almost every time the 180,000+ mile V8 fires up. I stopped worrying when I met local Lincoln nuts that are seriously competitive bracket racers. One had 300,000+ miles on his rattling timing chain.

If the chain rattles for longer on start up, say, maybe 5 seconds or more, then yes, by all means replace it as preventative maintenance.

I rarely believe in pre-emptive strikes, unless it saves you time, stress and money in the future. Case in point? Since I mentioned my car…

Some great fanboi he is…

My dumb ass wrecked my beloved Mark VIII back in February. A normal person (if normal people own 20-year-old cars) woulda scrapped it, but not this Lincoln-Mercury Fanboi. Since the rest of the body was looking pretty tired, I went for a full respray. The pre-emptive strike part comes via saving time and money on all the labor involved in stripping a body in order to paint it right. I installed most of these for essentially zero dollars:

  • New HID bulbs and (sorely needed) headlight relays to ease the burden on the inadequate Ford wiring harness.
  • New delayed entry switches in the door latches and a new passenger side window lift motor.
  • A new grille, as the flexible indium plating was looking a bit cruddy.
  • Fix that stupid, enlarged roof hole under the passenger side visor: a gift from the hamfisted jerk that installed the Webasto moonroof back in ’95.
  • Scrape overspray off the weatherstrip from a previous partial body respray.
  • New quarter windows to replace the rubber trim destroyed by an orbital buffer(?).
  • Install a new HVAC head unit since mine quit illuminating a few buttons.
  • New emblems as the chrome was getting pitted.
  • Numerous minor upgrades, which discussing would go even more off-topic.

I’m not suggesting the dichotomy between your Sonata and my Mark VIII means only one of us is justified in their pre-emptive strike. Just that yours can wait until the rattle gets worse.

Wait for more timing chain rattle, enjoy the time before it becomes a bigger problem. I sure as hell did.

[Images: Shutterstock user Rost9, Sajeev Mehta/TTAC]

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
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2 of 53 comments
  • Arthur Dailey Arthur Dailey on Jun 30, 2015

    Well that scared the %#@* out of me. Don't wrench anything myself anymore and a timing belt replacement would now be out of the question. So taking my Korean vehicle with an interference engine in to the shop to make sure that he tensioner on the chain if fine. Checked the 'net and there don't appear to be any related problems with my model but at 135,000kms better safe than sorry. But hope that the bill isn't too big. All things considered I am now costing the dollars per mile and averaging 25,000kms per year and contracting out all the mechanical work, it now appears cheaper to lease for 3 or 4 years, perform oil changes and then walk away without having to worry about new rubber, annual rustproofing, brake job, coolant and tranny fluid replacement that is required just past that lease period.

  • Brett Brett on Jul 06, 2015

    Since the timing chain has scheduled replacement at 105k miles, I would probably just do the tensioner at that time. I had a 2006 v6 sonata that I traded off a few months ago with 120k miles on it. It was a former rental car and I continued to drive it like a rental car... The car held up really well. I wouldn't worry about it and just stick to the scheduled maintenance.

  • 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…..