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I have a 2000 Toyota Camry with the 2.2l 4 cylinder, 5S-FE engine. The car has 143k miles on it. I currently run 0w40 Mobil 1 full synthetic motor oil with the Mobil 1 filter.

When I was changing the alternator I started the car to see if things were working properly. That's when I noticed a rhythmic noise that follows engine RPM. It basically sounds like a sewing machine. But, rather than try to describe the noise, the following is a link to a recording of the sound. It's a .WAV file about 90 seconds long. The second half is better than the first. I'm doing this on my phone or I would edit out the first half.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/kb5rs7gbvfchy0r/2016-03-11_22-49%20Engine%20at%20idle.wav?dl=0

When the recording was made the engined was at normal operating temperature.

I used a stethoscope to try and narrow this down, and I think it's coming from the valve train. Is this the much recently discussed noisy tappet? I would make recordings from the stethoscope but I have to figure out hire to do that.

One thing that makes me think tappet is the frequency of the ticking. It's very low compared to engine RPM. Which if it's one tappet would make sense, it would be 1/2 to 1/4 of the engine RPM. If it's 1/4 that would be roughly 2 per second and that sounds about right.

Any thoughts as to what the source of this noise is?

  • I'm having a hard time discerning exactly what you're talking about. I think if you had revved the engine a little bit, it might help. Also, my Mo-n-Law has a newer Camry I can listen to (when she gets home) which might help me tell the difference from what you are talking about. Her's is a 2006, I think ... don't know if that is the same engine, but her's only has about 34k miles on it, so basically just broke in. Let me know if you have any better way to describe what you're talking about. Also, is 0W-40 what is specified for the vehicle or are you running the thicker weight oil on purpose? – Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Mar 12 '16 at 18:48
  • What I'm hearing, instead of just a steady hum, is a repeating ticking. The second half of the recording (after the drop out in the center) shows it pretty well. I was moving the phone over the engine, and I wish I had done video with it because there's a place where it becomes pretty clear. Would have been good to know where that was. I think it was over the valve cover. The '06 does not have this 5S-FE engine. If it's a 4 cylinder it's likely the 2AZ-FE I4 engine. I would imagine they are close. Althouugh the 2AZ-FE does make more horsepower. I will make another recording and rev it some. – cdunn Mar 12 '16 at 19:25
  • Why are you running 0w40? What's the average temperature where you live? It could be an oil pressure issue. Toyota recommends 5w30 for the engine oil. – Ben Mar 13 '16 at 16:38
  • It was at the recommendation of a good friend who is an engineer and is a race instructor / crew chief. I trusted his opinion and my own research on bobistheoilguy.com seemed to verify that it was a good idea. – cdunn Mar 13 '16 at 16:41
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Since you are at the vehicle determining what is causing the sound should be easier. Below are some possible reasons for the noise you are hearing.

All credit goes to both websites.

Please see the information from the website link below. It is difficult determining what type of problem it is with the recording. The information below should help narrow the problem down.

The Car Noises Diagnosis credit goes to carproblems.com

http://www.carsproblems.com/diagnosis-car-problem/car-noises-diagnosis/

Car Noises Diagnosis

Almost all of you experienced this thing that cars and vehicles create variety of noise that is one of major car problems. When cars and vehicles create noise, it means there is something damage in the components of cars and vehicles. Car maintenance can be expensive for you so you must try to diagnose most of the car problems yourself. You can learn diagnosing noise problem of cars by reviewing the information given below. Here we will discuss some noise problems that most of cars have with possible problems and their solutions.

Backfiring

Incorrect ignition timing, faulty ignition and leaking valves can be possible problem of this sound of vehicle. Have ignition and check a valve properly is the right way to solve this problem.

Clatter from engine

This sound problem may be caused by badly adjusted valves and insufficient engine oil. You should add oil to the engine or refer to it towards car mechanic for proper maintenance.

Whining or chattering from engine

This sound problem occurs if camshaft drive belt is tensioned badly. To solve this problem, you must refer your vehicle to professional mechanical as soon as possible.

Rattle when accelerating

Causes of this sound problem include wrong grade of fuel, engine overheating, incorrect ignition timing or other ignition faults. You should use higher grade of fuel to get rid of this noise problem of your car. Also refer it to mechanic.

Knocking with engine which increases with engine speed

Worn camshaft can be a major cause of create this noise problem in the vehicle so you must take your vehicle to mechanic to solve this noise problem.

Screech when steering

Power steering belt slipping can be a cause of screech when steering. You need to check it properly and go to mechanic for proper maintenance. However adjusting the belt properly can solve this sound problem of car.

Moan from engine when steering

When power steer fluid level is too low, this sound problem usually occurs in the vehicles. So you just need to top up the fluid level for this problem.

Roar or rasp under acceleration

Blown exhausting is the main cause of occurring this noise problem. So keep check on exhaust to reduce this noise problem.

Squeal or groan when braking

Brake components of car are worn or defective, this sound problem can occur with your vehicle. Referring the vehicle to mechanic is the best option for proper maintenance.

Hiss from engine

This is another sound problem that vehicle creates often and it caused by leak from coolant, air or vacuum. It is better to go to the mechanic for the solution of this sound problem of car.

Clicking from wheels

Loose hubcap and stone in hubcap can cause this noise problem with your vehicle so you need to tight the hubcap or remove stone from it to get rid of this sound problem of your car.

Above are the most common sound problems of cars that every car owners have to face on and off and most of you may wait for this useful information to solve this ultimate problem of vehicles.

http://www.cartalk.com/content/car-noise-emporium-27

The Car Noises Diagnosis credit (below) goes to cartalk.com

Noises you hear coming from the engine compartment/front:

Bad Bearing in Timing Belt Tensioner: woh woh woh woh

Bad Turbo: boooOOOOOOooo

Boiling Coolant: bllgh blllgggh blllllgggghh

Brake Booster Failing: hissssssssss ssss ss

Clutch Release Bearing on the Way Out: jee je je jeee

Clutch Screech: screek, screek, screek

Connecting Rod that went through the Engine Block: clicketta clicketta clicketta

Dieseling: blubBLUBblubBLUB

Engine Knock: tuckaTHUCKtuckaTHUCKtucka

Engine Reving Up and Down: vooRRRR, vooRRR, vooRRR

Fly Wheel: gurrEENK, gurrEENK, gurrENK

Loose Belt: YEEeeEEeeEEeeEEeeEEee!

Low Coolant: bwwob bwwwobbubwub

Misfire: puhVRooPuhHoo puhVROOpuhHOO

Power Steering Pump Going: nnnghuh nnnguh

Sticky Lifters: dicka, dicka, dicka, dicka

Transfer Case on the Way Out: glaghhghgghhh woongghhh

Water Pump: grrgula, grrgul,grrgula, vum wum wum wum wum

Weak Battery: wurrrrRRRRrrrrwuRRRrrr

Wiper Transmission Sound: eee eee eeee eeee

Vacuum Leak: vwishhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  • This is hilarious. – I have no idea what I'm doing Mar 14 '16 at 15:52
  • Yes, I thought it was rather different when I played the audio files. I expected car sounds not the radio show hosts making the sounds. – mr_tuner Mar 15 '16 at 23:02
  • Yup, it's the "Car Guys". Isn't one of them named Tappet? I'll not list him as one of the flavors of tappet when I get around to answering that question.. lol – cdunn Mar 16 '16 at 20:30
  • They actually call themselves the "Tappet" brothers Click and Clack tappet I think.- Hard to hear the audio at times. However, there content is very humorous and their bios are full of sarcastic humor. I think their real names are in the bios. - Not sure due to their humor. They really keep the radio show entertaining with their humor. – mr_tuner Mar 17 '16 at 2:40

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