Trying to solve timing issue in 2004 Vue 2.2L

Old 08-21-2017, 12:07 PM
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Location: Lake Wales, FL
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Default Trying to solve timing issue in 2004 Vue 2.2L


I'm "kind of" new to this forum. I've read it for quite a while, but I just registered as a member today because I want to pose a question that maybe someone here can help me with :-}

I have a 2004 Vue with the 2.2L engine. We've had this car since 2005 when we bought it at a Saturn lot as a used car with 8600 miles on it. It now has 226,000 miles.

A while back, it started making an engine rattle that sounded like the whole thing was going to fall apart. This noise would appear from time to time, last anywhere from 25-100 miles, then just as quickly disappear. Back in 2015, it started doing it, and it didn't stop, so we discontinued using the car. It sat in my backyard for the past year and a half. A few weeks ago, I charged up the battery, started it up, and it was still doing the noise (it started as though it had been driven yesterday--right up!).

I believe, after doing some research--including on this website, that the timing chain tensioner has malfunctioned. I removed the tensioner from behind the engine (passenger side of car), and found that it was frozen in place, but mostly extended. I managed to work it loose, but it seems to have some scoring in the inside sleeve. I bought a new one, which is one of the "improved" models, and installed it.

Here's my problem: Before removing the old tensioner, I removed the valve cover and exposed the timing chain and valve mechanism. After doing this, I turned the engine over with the starter to see if the rattling sound was indeed coming from the area of the timing chain (which I believe it was). So...when I put it all back together, I tapped the little tensioner thing to "activate" the new tensioner, which made the tensioner tighten the chain like it's supposed to do. Then, I put the valve cover back on, reassembled the ignition coil and spark plug feeder thing (instead of wires), got it all put back, and tried to start it.

I figured that one of two things would happen: either (a) it would start up and still make the rattling noise, or hopefully (b) start up and run quietly. Well, when I tried to crank it, it went "whoosh-whoosh-whoosh" with the sound of air puffing from the tail pipe. No start, and cranking like the timing was off. The battery promptly ran down, so I charged it, hoping that maybe it just wasn't "catching" and would maybe do something better with more turning power. When I tried this, it seems to have backfired through the throttle-body thing, so I've come to the conclusion that the timing is now off.

Here's my question: Have I done something to change the timing? Does the removal of the tensioner affect valve timing? the ignition system somehow timed so that rotating the engine with the electronic ignition module/coil removed affect spark timing? I didn't remove the chain at all, though I "did" unscrew the little plate that runs across the top between the two camshaft sprockets to see what the tension was like on the chain, but the engine didn't turn while this was off, nor did it turn with the old tensioner removed. I drove it across the backyard to a shady spot under a tree to work on it, so it was running until I took it apart. Again, I never removed the chain, nor did I turn the engine with anything removed that would've allowed the chain to jump teeth on anything. When I turned the engine, only the valve cover and ignition stuff was removed.

If you have any suggestions, please let me know! I'm leaning toward this being a problem with ignition timing instead of valve timing, but I don't know how to set ignition timing. I guess that there's a crankshaft position sensor, which could be making the whole thing spark 180-degrees out of time. That would cause the backwards backfire, I'd think. I don't know how to check ignition timing here, so I'm at an impasse regarding proceeding :-{
Old 08-21-2017, 07:57 PM
02 LW300's Avatar
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Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Willamette Valley, Oregon
Posts: 1,276

Welcome to the forum. The chain jumped time when you removed the tensioner. The engine unfortunately probably bent several valves when you tried to start it. Now you have to decide whether this car is worth repairing. At that high a mileage my question would be how much oil did the engine use and how nice is the Vue?
I have repaired several 2.2 Ecotec engines and drive one today.
Old 08-26-2017, 02:30 AM
derf's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 2005
Location: My Saturn ;)
Posts: 7,695



Your post got hung up in the forum and was not publically posted.
One of the other moderators replied to your question (see above).

Again, our apologies for not noticing this sooner.

Old 08-26-2017, 05:48 AM
Rubehayseed's Avatar
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Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Lake Wales, FL
Posts: 3,749

Hi Josh, I'm in Lake Wales too! Unfortunately, I don't know diddly about that engine. Andy is the man who does since he owns about a thousand Saturns (joke). But, you may be going to one of the salvage yards around here and find a head for yours. I'm sure Andy can probably tell you what years and vehicles may interchange. Welcome to the forum, by the way.
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