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Old 05-22-2013, 06:01 PM   #1
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Jeep makes a clicking or slacked chain clattering noise

Hi, I have a 1994 Jeep Wrangler YJ 4.0L and it has started to make a clicking noise. It is similar to when you would put a card in your bike spokes to produce that repetitive noise, but more on the level of maybe metal clattering. To me it sounds like that or a chain that is slacked and is hitting metal tabs repeatedly. This all started when I was making a trip up to pinecrest, ca from the valley, It was a really hot day high 90's. I was about more than half way there and while the engine was under load going uphill, while accelerating the noise started really loudly with the gas pedal pressed. I immediately pulled over and decided to limp back home, while trying to accelerate very little. This made the noise less likely to happen, but when I needed to accelerate it would do it again. (55mph and up) When I reached town the noise wouldn't do it at all at local speeds. (35mph max) So when I reached home, I checked all fluids in the engine bay and the transfer case which were all clean. I haven't checked my differential fluid yet though. After this I let my jeep rest and took it out later that day to reach the speeds that produced those noises 55mph and up with acceleration on a flat road with optimal temperature. This didn't produce the noise at all, so I thought that it was just something that may have just been minimal and corrected itself, which I know that is highly unlikely. After that I've been driving in town fine, while staying away from the mountains. But over time these past few weeks the noise is coming back at local town speeds, 35mph while accelerating more commonly. I can't seem to figure it out, it happens while accelerating and comes and goes. for example one day it might not do it at all or at least once. Other times it may do it more often while driving. Today 5/22/2013, it did it multiple times accelerating, not as loud because of the speed difference compared to the mountains but still its there. I decided to come to the forum because everyone on here is super helpful and shares there compassion for jeeps as do I.

1994 Jeep Wrangler 4.0L Auto
The transmission has been rebuilt twice. (Once with previous owner and then secondly I had got it rebuilt)
33" Mud Terrain Tires
Front Axle: Stock
Back Axle: Mostly stock but has chromly alloy usa axle shafts
4" Lift, I'm pretty sure its rough country it contains white shocks with black boots, so I'm unsure about that.
The Drive shaft is stock.
So basically everything else is stock.

I have pictures of my jeep on my facebook if that helps at all, the ones on here are when I first bought it and quite a bit had changed in appearance.
https://www.facebook.com/dillonrcain

I can also put them on here if needed and additional information if need be.

Thank You!
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Old 05-22-2013, 06:08 PM   #2
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Hmm.... Do you have a loss of power at all while driving?

And sure man if you want to post up pics go for it!

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Old 05-22-2013, 06:17 PM   #3
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was it pinging? engine hot under load could be a timing issue
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Old 05-22-2013, 06:27 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicoJeepy View Post
Hmm.... Do you have a loss of power at all while driving?

And sure man if you want to post up pics go for it!
It may be a little under on power but it has always struggled going up very steep hills, I some times have floor it to make it stay at 55 going up so that I can maintain speed with traffic, while commuting to school. I think the power is different now because of that noise but that may just be my head thinking that.
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Old 05-22-2013, 06:30 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by BCDonny View Post
was it pinging? engine hot under load could be a timing issue
The engine temp does rise while going uphill but not extremely, I think that's normal because of the load. While driving up hills it's around 210 at most. The only other time engine temp almost reaches the danger zone would be on priest grade hill and that hill is extremely steep and I have to go up that at like 25, but that's only when going camping. I'm sure others know about that road in california. But no it's not pinging.
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Old 05-22-2013, 06:54 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackHawkDown15 View Post
The engine temp does rise while going uphill but not extremely, I think that's normal because of the load. While driving up hills it's around 210 at most. The only other time engine temp almost reaches the danger zone would be on priest grade hill and that hill is extremely steep and I have to go up that at like 25, but that's only when going camping. I'm sure others know about that road in california. But no it's not pinging.
Wait your from south of Jamestown right? You can tell where I live in Cali from my forums name
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Old 05-22-2013, 06:56 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ChicoJeepy View Post

Wait your from south of Jamestown right? You can tell where I live in Cali from my forums name
I live in Oakdale but I go through Jamestown a lot commuting to Columbia plus trips up into the mountains.
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Old 05-22-2013, 06:59 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BlackHawkDown15 View Post
I live in Oakdale but I go through Jamestown a lot commuting to Columbia plus trips up into the mountains.
Hell man I found a steal in Oakdale on Clist. The guy has a hard top and hard doors. Can't remember the price exactly but around 500. There is no way I'm driving all the way down there
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Old 05-22-2013, 07:24 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChicoJeepy View Post

Hell man I found a steal in Oakdale on Clist. The guy has a hard top and hard doors. Can't remember the price exactly but around 500. There is no way I'm driving all the way down there
Oh I have a hardtop and full doors already but that's a really good deal especially around here when they can go up to 2000.
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Old 05-22-2013, 08:49 PM   #10
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The noise sounds like its coming from underneath.
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Old 05-22-2013, 09:09 PM   #11
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Sounds like the starter motor. Pull it off and if the inner thing with teeth moves up and down without being retracted on its own, it's bad. It will cause it to make a clicking sound almost like a chain. Here's a pic of the one from my silverado (same thing happened on my wrangler, just didn't get picture). the left is bad, the right is good.
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Old 05-22-2013, 09:10 PM   #12
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Does the clack only happen at certain RPMs when not under a lot of load?. I have a clack noise in mine that is the timing chain hitting the guide in the timing housing. You might be missing the slack retainer like I am.
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Old 05-22-2013, 09:57 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by c5wagner View Post
Sounds like the starter motor. Pull it off and if the inner thing with teeth moves up and down without being retracted on its own, it's bad. It will cause it to make a clicking sound almost like a chain. Here's a pic of the one from my silverado (same thing happened on my wrangler, just didn't get picture). the left is bad, the right is good.
I forgot to mention that while accelerating and going up hill, the teeth will come in contact with the internal motor teeth. Also if it goes away while braking and going downhill the teeth are being forced forward away from the internal teeth.
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Old 05-23-2013, 12:41 AM   #14
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I forgot to mention that while accelerating and going up hill, the teeth will come in contact with the internal motor teeth. Also if it goes away while braking and going downhill the teeth are being forced forward away from the internal teeth.

Here are some pictures of my starter, the teeth on it hardly move up and down at all very miniscule. So I don't think its that. Wish it was because that is easy to replace!

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Old 05-23-2013, 12:50 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by metalharo9187 View Post
Does the clack only happen at certain RPMs when not under a lot of load?. I have a clack noise in mine that is the timing chain hitting the guide in the timing housing. You might be missing the slack retainer like I am.
It used to only do it when I was going at high speeds and needed to accelerate. But now in town when I accelerate it will do it occasionally. It has never done this before? Do you mean that the timing chain could of been tight enough before and was missing this retainer? I don't know if the timing chain has ever been replaced and I don't know if that piece is moving. To me it sounds as if its coming from underneath me. But that can be debatable because sound does travel while driving.

Oh also my jeep does have over 210,000 miles on it, original engine.
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Old 05-23-2013, 01:06 AM   #16
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There's a chance it could be the catalytic converter going out, happened to my bro's cherokee. It might also be something with the timing chain, or the chain in the transfer case is having issues.
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Old 05-23-2013, 01:19 AM   #17
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There's a chance it could be the catalytic converter going out, happened to my bro's cherokee. It might also be something with the timing chain, or the chain in the transfer case is having issues.
Are there any easy ways to check these or no? Also what steps would you take? Thank you for the help by the way!
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Old 05-23-2013, 01:31 AM   #18
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I would start by trying to remove the catalytic converter(easy if it's bolted on), it would be the simplest point to start and just leave it off while you're testing you're car out. Then if that's not the problem, I'd take it to someone who can diagnose the problem and handle fixing it(the timing chain can be difficult if you have never done it or seen someone do it, and the transfer case is very tricky). I see that you're in california, I'm wondering how close you are to me in Highland/Redlands area.
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Old 05-23-2013, 01:39 AM   #19
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I would start by trying to remove the catalytic converter(easy if it's bolted on), it would be the simplest point to start and just leave it off while you're testing you're car out. Then if that's not the problem, I'd take it to someone who can diagnose the problem and handle fixing it(the timing chain can be difficult if you have never done it or seen someone do it, and the transfer case is very tricky). I see that you're in California, I'm wondering how close you are to me in Highland/Redlands area.
I live in Oakdale, but yeah my cat is welded on so I don't know where to go about that. Maybe use a cutoff wheel but then I would be screwed after i took it off, I lack a proper welder to put it back on. I wish there was a way for me to diagnose it properly, but I can see why I should go to someone.
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Old 05-23-2013, 01:54 AM   #20
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Well, Oakdale is quite far from me. It's always difficult to diagnose other people's vehicles over a forum, especially when the problem can be one of many things. I'd hold off on your cat though, but if you did cut it, autozone carries couplers and clamps to put it back together without welding. If it was that cat though, it would sound like clanking on a metal pipe right under the passenger seat.
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Old 05-23-2013, 01:16 PM   #21
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Well, Oakdale is quite far from me. It's always difficult to diagnose other people's vehicles over a forum, especially when the problem can be one of many things. I'd hold off on your cat though, but if you did cut it, autozone carries couplers and clamps to put it back together without welding. If it was that cat though, it would sound like clanking on a metal pipe right under the passenger seat.
Oh no I haven't taken it off and yeah it doesn't sound like that, so I guess I can take that out of the possible problems.
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Old 05-23-2013, 02:53 PM   #22
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Have you checked the ujoints on the front axle? And I'm talking about the ujoints right behind the hubs, when they start to go bad they make the same sound as you describe. Just look under the front at each side and you will see them. You can reach in and wiggle them to see if they have any movement.
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Old 05-23-2013, 04:50 PM   #23
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^ that. Start w/u-joints. They make a snapping/clicking sound as they spin when one of the caps & bearings starts to go bad.

If everything is bound up tight, make sure its in N and jack up a front tire if you need to. Then the front axle shafts should have a bit of play in them. But, those end caps for the ujoints should not.
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Old 05-23-2013, 04:52 PM   #24
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Wow this is weird I have what sounds to be the same thing going on with my jeep! I have a 94 4.0L Auto, 4" lift and 33" tires. I am twisted on the noise. I found mine never did it during the winter. Only since it has warmed up dose it do it. I need to be driving home when traffic is really bad and on a hot day it will make a clicking noise like a card in a bike tire only metal sounding! RPM dependent noise, Only on acceleration and goes away if I let off the gas and re-accelerate very lightly, but it is very intermittent and hard to diagnose cuz once it is out of drive it will not make the noise. I just tried putting some heavier oil in it 10w40 to see if that helps. Almost a rod knock noise. Cannot duplicate to try and investigate.
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Old 05-23-2013, 08:57 PM   #25
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Wow this is weird I have what sounds to be the same thing going on with my jeep! I have a 94 4.0L Auto, 4" lift and 33" tires. I am twisted on the noise. I found mine never did it during the winter. Only since it has warmed up dose it do it. I need to be driving home when traffic is really bad and on a hot day it will make a clicking noise like a card in a bike tire only metal sounding! RPM dependent noise, Only on acceleration and goes away if I let off the gas and re-accelerate very lightly, but it is very intermittent and hard to diagnose cuz once it is out of drive it will not make the noise. I just tried putting some heavier oil in it 10w40 to see if that helps. Almost a rod knock noise. Cannot duplicate to try and investigate.
Yeah it did again today, that's weird how we have the same setup and that you have the same noise.
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Old 05-23-2013, 08:59 PM   #26
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Have you checked the ujoints on the front axle? And I'm talking about the ujoints right behind the hubs, when they start to go bad they make the same sound as you describe. Just look under the front at each side and you will see them. You can reach in and wiggle them to see if they have any movement.
It did it again today on acceleration when it hit a certain rpm, then felt like it lost some power maybe it was just me thinking that. But I'll check the ujoints right away.
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Old 05-23-2013, 09:35 PM   #27
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From what I could tell their isn't any movement in the ujoints, I even jacked up the driver side and put In neutral.
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Old 05-24-2013, 06:22 PM   #28
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Alright now it's doing the noise while driving when I go above 2k rpms. When increasing speed below 2k rpms, it'll shift fine. I also believe it shifts fine even when going above those rpms. So hopefully that rules out the transmission. Today it started doing it again after hitting rough railroad tracks and went away after going below 2k rpm, but would return going above that. So something could be loose I guess or what ever got jostled when I went over the railroad tracks. I'm just listing everything that agitates whatever is making the noise.
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Old 05-24-2013, 06:32 PM   #29
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My noise always is at low rpm in first, second gear when accelerating. If the transmission switches gears up shift or downshift or if I let off the gas for a sec it will go away. Then come back randomly but only makes the noise after being fully warmed up. Changing to a heavier weight oil didn't help. I got home and it was making the noise so I played around in the parking lot. It will make it slightly brake torquing in gear. Goes away in park but could hear it lightly in neutral. Had someone walking by hold the brake while I looked under it and sounded almost like it was from the oil pan but couldn't really tell plus I had to let the guy walking by go. Lol
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Old 05-24-2013, 07:02 PM   #30
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I have the exact same thing, I would bet serious money its the timing chain hitting the housing guide.

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