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.