Chirping Tapping Sound Help

I have a 2005 Camry. 4 Cylinder engine, Automatic Transmission.

I hear a whining sound when pressing on the accelerator pedal. I hear this sound even with the car in parked. It seemed to be coming from the serpentine belt area. I also hear a ticking or rattling sound that seems to be coming from the air box area (I’m just noticing this now, maybe it was always there I don’t know) while the car is in idle. I have done the following, all bullets I have done recently, less than the last oil change ago:

  1. I took the belt off, it was a Toyota one that had probably less than 50k miles on it and spun the pullies to help diagnose the issue I was hearing. Power steering pulley and crank pulley obviously I could not spin by hand, too large. However, I spun the others. There was no belt dust anywhere.

  2. The tensioner pulley had some friction in it, I could hear a sound while it spun. I was going to put the belt back on and order a tensioner, however I broke the external hex on the tensioner. I think the strut was frozen up. This was the original one that broke that came with the car. I applied so much torque trying to get the belt back on it snapped off. So, I went to the parts store and got a Littens tensioner and replaced it. This did not solve my noise problem. I made sure the belt was fully on all the pullies and followed the routing diagram. I made sure to use a torque wrench on all fasteners holding the tensioner on.

  3. I also noticed that the alternator had some noise in it when I spun the pulley. I wasn’t sure if this was the brushes or the bearings inside of it. I had no way of knowing. So I replaced it with a Duralast alternator from the parts store. This did not solve my noise problem. After driving around, I noticed some black powdery substance on the tensioner. It didn’t seem like oil. I thought it could be belt dust or possibly even dust from the new brushes in the alternator. I had no way of knowing. I made sure to use a torque wrench on all fasteners holding the alternator on. I made sure the belt was fully on all the pullies and followed the routing diagram.

  4. So I took off the Toyota belt, it didn’t look bad at all, or look like the dust was coming from it. In the process of attempting to put on a new Gates belt and swap it out for the older Toyota one to see if it would solve my problem. I snapped the hex off the Littens tensioner. I made sure to go slow, I don’t know, I guess I just struggle getting the belt back on. But anyways, I went to the parts store and got a Gates tensioner and put that on there. I used a torque wrench again when installing the Gates tensioner. I was able to get the brand-new Gates belt on. This did not solve my problem. I followed the routing diagram.

  5. I checked that I have proper amounts of oil in the engine and the transmission.

Thanks for any help in further diagnosing this issue. The only other thing I could of checking, is taking the valve cover off, and checking for valve clearance. This would at least be something that I could measure and get a definitive yes or no on if it’s bad. When I look online, I see that pulley alignment and not having the proper tension, can result in belt dust and chirping sounds. However, I have this car has an automatic tensioner, and pulleys whose alignment I don’t believe can be adjusted.

This was when I had the Littens Tensioner on there. I noticed I could grab the tensioner by the external hex and wiggle the tensioner around, which seemed odd. This is despite using a torque wrench. Not sure if this is an issue or not.

I currently have a gates one. Not sure if this issue still exists (if it’s an issue or not).

This is the ticking sound with the car in idle and in Park. Not sure if this is related to the whining sound I’m hearing while pressing the accelerator or not. This video is how my car is right now, with the new Duralast Alternator, new Gates Belt, new Gates Tensioner

TLDR: Noise, chirping sound, when pressing accelerator. Replaced serpentine belt, serpentine belt tensioner, alternator, noise hasn’t gone away.

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I bet the car has a lot of miles?

Listening to the video, what you may be hearing is worn out timing chain components.


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Thanks for the idea. I have about 200k miles on it.

Listen to this guy.

He knows what he’s talking about.


Thanks. Replacing all of those components looks very time consuming, and cost prohibitive to pay someone to do. I guess I’ll start with the easiest thing first, the timing chain tensioner. Replace that part first, two nuts. If that doesn’t work, I guess I’ll measure the valve clearance adjustment to see if that needs to be done and solves my problem. Will have to take the valve cover off anyways so might as well. Will be able to quantify if it needs to be done and get a definitive yes or no if the valve lifter buckets need to be replaced or not. If that doesn’t work, I guess I will start investigating replacing some of the other timing chain components.

I noticed that most of the timing chain tensioners do not come with a gasket and you have to make one yourself with RTV gasket maker. I guess I will go with this one as it looks to come with a pre-cut rubber gasket?

Looking online there doesn’t appear to be a pre-cut rubber gasket for the timing chain cover, so if it comes to it, I guess I’ll have no choice but to make one with RTV.

I’m going to give it a go this weekend, the valve clearance adjustment and the tensioner.

Just curious, the service manual tells me to remove the spark plugs, this seems kind of unnecessary to check the valve clearance. Any ideas why it says to do this? I get having to remove the COPs to get the valve cover off, but the actual spark plugs?

Also I took a look at my car running with the Gates tensioner. There does appear to be some minor oscillation/vibration around the “dummy” bolt circled in blue. I don’t know if this is normal?

I think this is to be expected because there’s only two bolts holding it down to the timing chain cover, circled in purple.

I’m not familiar w/your Camry’s configuration, but on many cars it is possible to run engine briefly without an accessory belt. If that’s possible on your car, might want to give that idea a try. If sound is gone, then you know it has something to do with the belt path. Only briefly, b/c in some configurations something critical like the water pump doesn’t run without belt.

I’m not able to hear your sound file, but from your description above, a valve clearance problem seems pretty unlikely. My guess is either something on the belt path, or problematic timing chain components. I presume your car has solid lifters (like my Corolla). The reason I remove the spark plugs for that is b/c otherwise the compressed air above the piston will be pushing on the crankshaft, making it hard to get the crankshaft and camshaft into correct position to measure valve clearances. It will be a net time-saver if you remove or at least loosen spark plugs.

You remove the spark plugs to make it easier to rotate the engine and to keep compressed air from rotating the engine when you get it positioned.

The “dummy bolt” looks to me like the place where you put a wrench on the tensioner so you can move it enough to get the belt on.


Thanks guys. Finally, had some time to work on this issue. Here’s an update.

I checked the valve clearance. One of the intake valves was greater than 0.011 inches but less than 0.012 inches. The specification is between 0.008 inches and 0.011 inches. So, I seem to be slightly out of specification, on the magnitude of 10 thousandth of an inch, which is too small out of specification, to result in correction.

The timing chain was nice and taught. However, I noticed that when I rotated the crankshaft, I would here a “knocking” or “tapping” like sound, and the chain would become loose, and then go back to being taunt.

No idea what could be causing this. But without taking it apart It almost seems like one of the sprockets is missing a tooth or one of the teeth is slightly damaged. When it gets on this tooth the chain becomes loose and the proper tension is not applied?

Here’s a video of what I saw. Thanks for any recommendations on how to further troubleshoot, if this is the likely culprit for my issue. I guess the easiest thing to do would be start with both camshafts. Take the chain off and inspect the two sprockets for wear.

Based on higher frequency of occurrence I’m guessing it’s something wrong with crankshaft sprocket. Something small in diameter.

Anyone seen something like this before? Only sometimes there is not proper tension.

I’m preparing for the worse, hoping for the best. Will try the tensioner soon and go from there.

Anyone know what type of holder I can use for this car for the crankshaft pulley, water pump, and power steering pump? I know they make them, but having difficulty finding them for this car.

Have only done this job before with engine removed from car. Replaced whole timing chain system.

That is normal. When a valve begins to close, it pushes the rotation of the camshaft forward causing slack in the chain. This doesn’t occur (or occurs to a very small degree) when the engine is running as there will be oil pressure applied to the chain tensioner.

Hey Thanks! Saved me from a large unnecessary headache and wasting my time!

Well at this point I’m stumped then.

  • New serpentine belt
  • New serpentine belt tensioner
  • New alternator
  • Spun water pump by hand, it’s quite
  • Checked valve clearance, all are in specification except for one intake valve that is off on the magnitude of 10 thousandths of an inch, and is too small to be corrected
  • Crankshaft to camshaft timing chain is OK

I guess perhaps the noise I’m hearing could by the oil pump to crank shaft timing chain. I have never ran this engine low on oil and have always changed the oil every 5,000 miles. So I think it’s unlikely. I’m kind of running out of ideas. I thought maybe the throttle body motor going bad might be creating the whining noise I’m hearing? If so, it would line up with the whining sound I hear every time I press down on the accelerator pedal. But I think this would be a different sound though? This happens with the car in park, so defiantly not wheel bearing.

I cannot spin by hand the power steering pump pulley or the AC compressor to check to see if they are loud. I guess it’s possible the bearings in those are bad. These pullies are to large though for me to spin freely with just my hand. Anyway for me to spin these with the belt off and listen to the noise they make? I’m not having any power steering or AC problems. Still got cold AC and a reservoir full of fluid for the power steering, no leaks.

For whatever it is worth, I turned the car on with the engine off, and with the accelerator pedal pressed, I could not hear any abnormal or loud sounds from inside of the car. Standing outside of the car with the hood open and someone pressing the accelerator, same results. I then used a stethoscope against the throttle body, and could then and only then hear a slight humming sound. So I think the throttle body motor is ok?

Any other ideas would be welcomed.

I guess maybe I can get some plastiguage, and check the clearances on the camshaft bearings. I don’t know if a symptom of them being out of specification is a whining sound? I could check these clearances pretty easily.

So the chain becoming un-tensioned slightly while rotating the crank by hand is normal expected behavior, but is the tapping, thumping sound normal?

my motor has lifter buckets. they do not have provisions for shims. the tap/click sound is noticeable in car. my wife drove it into garage last week when i was cleaning and i swear it is quieter outside the car. i couldnt hear a tap sound. seems odd. ya, the pic is not 100% right for my motor

Thanks for the reply. Which engine do you have?

Given that you say your car’s engine has been properly serviced, presumably oil never more than one quart low, no overheating incidents, not driven aggressively like a race or drag strip car, suggest to figure out a way to rule out all the serpentine belt accessories as potential causes before considering camshaft & crankshaft bearings or valve clearances. It’s not always possible to detect a noise when hand spinning something that actually causes a noise when engine is running.

If you are simply in the mood to replace something, maybe the timing chain tension and guide mechanisms.

Thanks I’m going to give it a try soon, running the engine for a short period without any belt on it

So it’s normal for the timing chain to go untaunt, then back to taunt, while turning by hand. Is the tapping sound normal? It sounds extremely similar to the tensioner getting depressed one extra tooth, resulting in the proper tension not being applied, and then extending back to the proper spot by one tooth. Given that the taunt, untaunt, taunt behavior is normal, I presume the tapping sound is as well if this is just the tensioner depressing and extending?