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Gary, Chevy Technician
Category: Chevy
Satisfied Customers: 16779
Experience:  15 years GM master tech
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Chevrolet malibu I have a 2001 chevy malibu with a 3.1. I

Resolved Question:

I have a 2001 chevy malibu with a 3.1. I have a knocking/ticking noise in my engine. Seems to be on the right side. Pulled the valve cover off and everything seems to be ok. Any suggestions?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Chevy
Expert:  Gary replied 6 years ago.
cutting out the cylinders made no difference at all?will the noise be loud cold but slowly go away as it warms up?it is more of a tick or a deep thumping sound?will it increase as you rev it up?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
I could not tell a difference with cutting out the cylinders. It is a loud tick when it is cold - then gradually gets quieter as the engine warms. Once at operating temp., it is considerably quieter - but is still noticeable. It does seem to increase while reving up at cold temp.
Expert:  Gary replied 6 years ago.
how long have you owned the car?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
3 months - it was doing it when I bought it. I thought it might be an easy fix but can't seem to get to the bottom of it. Now that it's getting colder the noise is getting louder.
Expert:  Gary replied 6 years ago.
ok more than likely it is piston slap noise.very common for these 3.4J engines.the fix is to replace the 1 threw 4 pistons with a newer designed piston that has a coating on the piston to stop this noise.if you do NOT fix it there will be NO engine damage at all.just an annoying sound.some people can live with it and thats fine it will NOT harm anything.if it is driving you nuts and you want the noise gone you must replace pistons 1 threw 4.that WILL fix this is the bulletin for the X wife has a 2001 Malibu same engine making the same noise.she has well over 150k on it and no problems at all other than that noise


Cold Engine Tick Noise
(Replace Pistons) Models:
2000-01 Buick Century
2000-01 Chevrolet Lumina, Malibu
2000-01 Pontiac Grand Prix
with 3.1L Engine (VIN J - RPO LG8)


Some customers may comment on a ticking noise (similar, but not related to valve or lifter noise) that occurs 10-15 seconds after a cold engine start. The noise will last for 1 to 2 minutes, and will fade as the engine reaches operating temperature.


The noise may be caused by excessive piston to bore clearance during cold engine operation resulting from the specific piston design used in cylinders 1 through 4.


Service pistons for cylinders 1 through 4 will now be of the same design of those used for all production 2000 and 2001 for cylinders 5 and 6, and will have polymer coated piston skirts. Pistons in cylinders 5 and 6 are not exhibiting the described noise condition.

Important :
^ Note that this is a customer annoyance issue, and does not affect the durability or life of the engine.
^ Removal of pistons from engine cylinders 5 and 6 is NOT necessary if equipped with polymer coated pistons. It is recommended to rotate the crankshaft until the piston skirt is exposed in the lower crankcase area for inspection. Replace pistons in engine cylinder positions 5 and 6 ONLY if there is evidence of damage to the polymer coating on the piston skirt, or scoring on the cylinder wall (heavy scratches) is evident. Detailed diagnosis of cylinder wall/piston skirt wear is discussed in step 4.
Customer: replied 6 years ago.
It only seems to be on one side of the engine though - is that normal for this service letter? Wouldn't you hear it on both sides of the engine?
Expert:  Gary replied 6 years ago.
it almost sounds like cam shaft or center of the engine.its almost like a lifter deep type noise.if you have good oil pressure and you do NOT see any rockers loose or a collapsed lifter and the oil does not have any metal in it it more than likely is the piston slap.keep in mind the rear pistons could be the noisiest ones thats why it seems to be more rearward
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