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Discussion Starter #1
I know I don't have a SS, but I do have the 5.3 in my Rainier, so I hope you all don't have a problem with me asking this:

My Rainier's 5.3 L (with 180k miles) started to make a loud rattling noise from the engine area and it is in sync with the engine RPM's, not the wheels turning.

I checked the oil level and it was within the hash marks on the oil dipstick, so I made an appointment to have it diagnosed at the dealer.

I'm no expert, but I swear the noise sounded like it was low on oil, so even though the oil was NOT low, I OVERFILLED it with about 3/4 of a quart ...and the noise quieted, like 85%! So I canceled the dealer diagnosis so I could do some research, but my searches aren't finding my circumstances.

So what could this be? Any input is appreciated! Thanks!
-Tony
 

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I know I don't have a SS, but I do have the 5.3 in my Rainier, so I hope you all don't have a problem with me asking this:

My Rainier's 5.3 L (with 180k miles) started to make a loud rattling noise from the engine area and it is in sync with the engine RPM's, not the wheels turning.

I checked the oil level and it was within the hash marks on the oil dipstick, so I made an appointment to have it diagnosed at the dealer.

I'm no expert, but I swear the noise sounded like it was low on oil, so even though the oil was NOT low, I OVERFILLED it with about 3/4 of a quart ...and the noise quieted, like 85%! So I canceled the dealer diagnosis so I could do some research, but my searches aren't finding my circumstances.

So what could this be? Any input is appreciated! Thanks!
-Tony
Sounds like the common piston slap issue with that many miles.
What weight oil and how long since you changed it?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
o ring on pickup tube in oil pan
o2bob: I'm not sure what your answer means. I know what an o-ring is, I know what an oil pan is, but I don't know what a pickupo tube is, sorry to say!

Sounds like the common piston slap issue with that many miles.
What weight oil and how long since you changed it?
theheder: I use 5w-30 oil every time ...and I change the oil religiously, even before the dash computer gets down to 0%. The last time I changed it was 1500 miles ago.
 

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O ring failure on the oil pickup tube that connects it to the oil pump is a common problem, but I don't think that is your issue.

High miles with worn piston rings / cylinder walls seems more likely. I would try running a thicker high mileage type oil and document / compare the engine sound before and after.
 

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I agree with above. In short you are screwed. The engine is almost gone. Over filling the oil or changing viscosity is just a temporary band aid. You will need a new engine soon, sorry.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for the replies!!

I forgot to mention that the noise is only present when the engine is under load, like acceleration or going up steep hills, NOT cruising at constant speeds (city or highway).

(1) Which oil should I try? I'm a novice to oil weights.
(2) If the noise goes away with thicker oil, what would that mean? Thanks!
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I agree with above. In short you are screwed. The engine is almost gone. Over filling the oil or changing viscosity is just a temporary band aid. You will need a new engine soon, sorry.
Dcast: Do you say that because if the piston rings and/or the cylinder walls are bad, it's not feasible to repair?

Also: I just got 21 MPG with this 5.3 V8 on the highway going about 60 mph. Wouldn't I get bad mileage if the rings/cyliders were shot? I'm not an expert, so it's just the 1st thing that pops into my mind and I could be totally wrong ...thanks!
 

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You can repair the engine but not by over filling the oil or upping the oil viscosity. The cylinders can be bored, new pistons and rings can be put in, the crankshaft will have to be reground and new main and connecting rod bearings will be needed. Then when your in there the cam and cam bearings, lifters and a valve job should be done. In other words a complete engine rebuild. The engine has to be removed to do any of the above so if you leave anything out you will just be wasting money on labor for the engine removal. I am a ASE Automotive Master Tech, trust me when it gets to where you are you will need a new engine or complete rebuild very soon.
 

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he said he put extra oil in it got better. I was thinking extra oil covering pickup tube where o ring is suppose to seal.and not sucking air
 

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Discussion Starter #12
The noise the engine makes kind of sound like (past times in my life with different cars) a low oil engine noise in its frequency - how often it ticks. It stays with RPMs, so it's fast.

But I didn't want to say it sounded like "tapping" because all the tapping I've ever hear had a high pitch to it. Mine has a lower tone than that - almost like if you hit a small metal bucket.

I hope that helps a little?
 

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It’s hard to say what the cause of a noise is without hearing it and diagnosing it in person.

There are to many things to list, that it Could be.

If it is beyond your knowledge or experience level, bring it to a qualified mechanic to be diagnosed. Otherwise your just going to get a bunch of shots in the dark as to what your problem may be.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
awdvette: Thanks for the thoughts ...I decided to actually do that.

Now that the noise is 80% gone from adding oil, do I drain it back to normal levels to take it to the dealer so they can hear it?
 

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If you overfill the oil at some point the crankshaft will start dipping into the oil and make it foam. Then things get worse. You have never said what your oil pressure reads. Is it in specs or is it low? You said you have 180K on the engine. That is getting close or even beyond the normal life of a engine depending on how it was used or maintained. Filling the oil to the point where it will cover the pickup tube o-ring to my memory will be way to much oil and still does not fix the problem. I agree that you should take it in and have it checked, but I think you are due for a engine rebuild. Just my opinion, let us know what the shop says. Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for all the input everyone!!

FYI, I'm only putting in an additional 3/4 of a qt. and I heard that that's not to the point of foaming ...feel free to correct that notion.

My oil pressure, btw, is at 40 when driving, and around 38 when sitting still at idle ...so I think it's OK?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
FYI:
  • I decided to change the oil because if I take it to the dealer to get diagnosed, it'll not be overfilled by 3/4 quart and I want them to hear the noise.
  • It only had 1300 miles on it but it was really black.
  • After the oil change, the oil level is perfectly right at the top hash mark, so it's not overfilled.
  • But the sound is STILL reduced by 80% even though the oil is not overfilled by 3/4 qt!
So if I take it to the dealer, the noise will be so quiet, they will not be able to pick it out from amongst all other noises! Now I'm not knowing what to do. ...just drive it till I hear the noise again?
 

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I assume those pressures are from the gauge on the dash? That doesn’t reflect actual pressures, a mechanical gauge is the best way to be sure.

Your not going to hurt anything running an extra 3/4-1 full qt. in this application. Most people on here did that for many years until there was a fix for the poorly designed front sump oil pan, to prevent oil slosh.

Honestly I would suggest an oil change, cut your filter open and look for metal (bearing debris). If you find metal, you know it’s time for a tear down and rebuild or new engine. No metal, Refill to the appropriate level with quality oil and recheck for the noise. Noise Gone, leave it alone. If it’s still there get it diagnosed.

Don’t get me started on which oil, there are so many great choices with pros and cons to each.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Yes if the noise is gone I’d run it until it comes back.

What oil are you using?
I have always used and still using 5w-30 conventional. I just changed the oil yesterday but left the oil filter alone sine I changed it and the oil about 1300 miles ago.
 
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