Thanks to all the previous posters on this topic. I scoured these posts and they pointed to the timing chain. Well, they were correct. When I took off the timing cover spring parts and plastic pieces fell out like pinball's. Turns out out the timing chain tensioner self destructed and allowed the chain to get loose.
The actual repair on the 2.5 is so easy. After taking the fan (4 nuts), fan shroud (4 bolts), and harmonic balancer (1 bolt) off, the cover is right there. I did have to rent a harmonic balance puller. BE careful when using the puller! I messed up threads in the crankshaft by using the wrong head on the puller.Use the widest one in the kit. My loaner kit had an attachment that goes on the tip. If the tip of the puller shaft goes into the crank hole its TOO SMALL. I was able to repair the threads by gently working a tap of the same bolt size size into the hole. Back the tap often to get all the shavings clear of the hole. Use lots of lube (I used WD-40).
The tensioner bolts in from the underside. It looks like oil pan removal would be needed. I chose to leave to original mounting hardware on the engine and replace the plastic/spring parts. It only involves removing two c clips. Very easy. Note: Also if you are going to transfer new tensioner parts onto the old mount, do it before the chain and gears. You will have more room to work.
BEFORE YOU REMOVE THE CHAIN AND SPROCKETS, TURN THE GEARS UNTIL THE DOTS ON EACH GEAR ARE FACING EACH OTHER. DON'T TURN EITHER GEAR OR TRY TO START ENGINE. This will ensure your timing will be correct and save you from major headaches. When replacing new chain and gears, align dots and slide gears on at the same time. Its really easy.
You DO NOT need to remove water pump. Now might be a good time though because you have the front on the engine off.
You DO NOT have to unbolt/remove the oil pan. There are (4) bolts on the front underside of the pan that secure the pan to the timing cover. Remove them, that's it.
Im going with an electric fan and chucking the shroud/fan setup. It will require making a bracket for the coolant overflow and power steering pump. Its extra work, I know.
I hope this post helps someone! Feel free to contact me if ever have a