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Timing chain rattle - what exactly 'rattles

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  • [Corsa B 1993-2000] Timing chain rattle - what exactly 'rattles

    The known chain rattle _ corsa B 1.0 l et al.

    But what exactly is the cause of the rattle?

    Is it the wear of the chain?

    Is it the stretching of the chain?

    Is it the wear of the cam and hub sprockets?

    I would imagine that it is a combination of all the above but does any one contribute more to wear?

    My guess is that it stretches due to heat as a result of thin oil is as a result of infrequent oil changes.

    Am I right?

  • #2
    You're right - it's a combination of the chain and sprockets wearing, which leads to the chain stretching as well. The 'thinness' of the oil isn't really what it's about, modern oil runs 'thinner' than older oils due to the design of engines and narrow oil feeds.

    What causes wear due to poor oil changes is that when oil gets old it loses its detergents so it stops cleaning the engine. Then deposits start to build up and block the oil feeds, particularly to areas with narrow oil feeds like timing chains. It's oil starvation more than the viscosity that causes premature wear.
    1972 Viva restoration thread -


    • #3
      Thanks Taurus.

      That all naturally makes sense.

      I did not think of it as a starvation issue and omitted to consider that indeed modern oils are thin at operating temp.

      Is there an upper mileage 'limit' to the chain and sprockets EVEN if the engine oil was regularly changed?

      Finally, are the cheaper timing chain and cam sprocket sets which are on ebay or amazon of any merit or are only OEM or very good Aftermarket brand name parts recommended as replacements?

      Happy new year


      • #4
        Mileage limit is a bit like - how long is a piece of string? As you know I change my oil and filter every 5k, I changed the timing chains on my Vectra at 100k as a precaution, but to be honest they looked brand new and the interior of the engine was immaculate. The Z22SE engine has a reputation for chains snapping which is why I changed mine. The Corsa engines can snap chains, but they aren't as prone to snapping as the Vectra engine.

        I've heard Corsas engines with horrendous rattles and they go on for ages, on a Vectra they can snap without any warning at all.

        So my personal thing with the Corsa is if it's had frequent oil changes and the chain is running quietly they'll last way beyond 100k, especially on a car used mainly for longer journeys. The other thing is that they'll a lot simpler than the Vectra engine to work on so changing the chain isn't such a big job anyway. I'd go off how its history and how it sounds rather than a set limit.

        In terms of OEM vs aftermarket - it's a no brainer - go OEM every time. There are far too many poor quality aftermarket kits around to take the chance. Buy from Autovaux or Vauxhall World Parts and you'll get OEM kit at a decent price.
        1972 Viva restoration thread -


        • #5
          my sister in law was told by the garage that her corsas cam chain would break at 105,000 miles.... I bet her it wouldn't and its still going. each engine is different and has had a different life!


          • #6
            Mines got 115k miles, still running fine on the original chain/tensioner/sprockets, not burning any oil, either. Engine is as quiet as a new Corsa D - chain engines are definitely noisier than belt engines, but nothing objectionable.

            As stated, keeping on top of oil service is key to prevent sludging.

            My neighbour also has a Corsa B with the same 3 pot, similar mileage, and his sounds awful, lol. Yet he's been driving it to work for years sounding like an old diesel and it just doesn't die.


            • #7
              Like everything in life - a function of how well it was looked after.

              If I did have an engine with a rattling chain how likely is it that the galleries to the main and big end bearings are somewhat blocked by sludge?

              Or are the galleries here - unlike the gallery in the chain guide - sufficiently large enough so as not to 'usually' block to the extent where bearing wear could occur?


              • #8
                As ever - impossible to say for sure since every engine will be different, but the oil feed for the chain is much smaller so in general when deposits block that they are starting to form elsewhere but initially not to such a drastic extent. That's when the last thing you want to do is to use a flush - do several oil & filter changes at 2-3k intervals and that will cleanse the engine more effectively.
                1972 Viva restoration thread -


                • #9
                  I know of an engine with an 'alleged' 76k miles on it and a roaring timing chain (did not see or hear it myself)

                  I am thinking that the mileage could be wrong.

                  It is of course difficult to say and doubtless that without full lubrication the chain/cogs will wear, but I think even with poor maintenance, it is somewhat suspect that such mileage exhibits such - given the reported noise - seemingly extreme problems.


                  • #10
                    I've known many with less miles and failed chains, at 76k it's not unusual to hear them sounding like a bag of spanners in a cement mixer. I've known chains last less than 30k, they really do need good oil changes to make them last.
                    1972 Viva restoration thread -


                    • #11
                      Thanks - good to know.

                      If I get this engine, I will compare the teeth on the cogs to good ones - just for fun.


                      • #12
                        The amount of wear needed to be noisy is really very slight, sometimes worn cogs don't look very much different from new ones.
                        1972 Viva restoration thread -


                        • #13
                          If you get it stick a chain kit on it
                          They are cheap enough and do a oil and filter change the do another change about 1000 miles on
                          Use good quality oil


                          • #14
                            Re the point on OEM vs Aftermarket.

                            I fitted a cheap aftermarket chain, sprockets, guides tensioner etc to my daughters 1.2 16v two years ago & it it still quiet & sweet.

                            I guess you just can't tell.


                            • #15
                              I suppose it all depends on whether you have a 'gambling mentality' - I haven't, so I stick (in general) to genuine parts.