Hi my name is XXXXX XXXXX Just Answer.
The noise you are hearing is it louder at idle or while driving? Has the vehicle ever been overheated? Has the oil level been checked?
It's louder while driving. It has not been overheated. The Oil Level has not been checked.
The first step is definitely to check the oil level. Do this after the car has had at least 15-20 minutes to cool and for the oil to run back to the oil pan. Also check it several times to make sure you get a good reading.
After checking, what do I do if the oil is OK?
If the oil is okay and the engine has never been overheated then the noise is most likely being caused by a external accessory such as a idler pulley or alternator. The next step would be to listen to these various components with a mechanics stethoscope or a long screwdriver held to your ear. Normally you can identify the noisy component this way. However if you still can't locate it then the drive belts will need to be removed one at a time to see when the noise disappears.
What about valves and timing chain?
Does the noise indicate anything that could harm the car.
That is a possibility although rare on this engine unless the engine is sludged up. When all the drive belts are removed if the noise is still there then the problem is internal in the engine. You must first isolate the noise before being able to say whether or not it could cause any harm. I am not there to listen to the noise so I can't say at this point.
Can I continue to drive the car without isolating the noise, providing performance reamins good?
I can't tell you that because we don't know what is causing the noise yet. If the noise turns out to be internal then continued use could cause the destruction of the engine. We must find out what the noise is first before that can be determined.
Thank you for your insights. Are you local to Capistrano Beach?
If the noise is from a idler pulley then the pulley could eventually seize and throw all your drive belts off leaving you stranded. It is alot of "what if's" If the noise is just a heatshield rattling then you could drive it forever without harm. No I am in the Texas area.
Not even sure where that beach is but it sounds nicer then where I live :-)
We can see the ocean and it's 68 degrees. Even more comfortable now that I have your advice. Thank you; I will seek additional help here.