Power Steering or Timing Belt?

Alright, I have a 1998 ZX2 with almost 130k on the clock, I have NOT ever had the belts replaced. I have recently replaced two wheel bearings, tie rod ends and a front axle.

I am getting a ‘rattle/rub’ sounds that sounds like a thick empty plastic bottle rubbing slightly on something moving quickly. lol

Forgive me, I am not at all used to working on this little 4banger horizontal engine (Jeeps and Mustangs are more my speed). But this noise is driving my batty.

I first noticed it when I was turning the wheels hard over to maneuver in reverse into a parking spot. Now more and I hear it when I turn the wheel really far, but also NOW I hear it when sitting at idle at a light in or out of gear. It comes and goes. Not all the time. But it started when I had the wheel hard over.

Also the car, when in gear (auto) and idle has a ‘shakiness’ in the wheel and a slight vibration. When in park, no vibration but still shaky in the wheel. When at idle and in gear at a stop light I get the vibration and the shake and the intermittent “rattle/rub” sound.

Could this all be from a bad motor mount and/or a loose power steering pulley? Or is it sound like the timing belt? Or, please God no, all three?

I would check out the whole suspension. Since it sounds like you have a couple of issue. For on the timing belt should be replaced at 120k. With this anything longer than that could cause it to break(don’t worry non interference engine). Second the serp belt should be changed at every 80k-100k. With this over time the belt stretches and cracks become more in the ribs of the belt with this causing it to snap off. Third is when you turn hard it makes more noise. With this you might be holding the steering all the way to its maximum point in the rack and pinion which causes a hissing or a harsh noise. If you let it go it goes away this is your issue. Other wise if its a harsh whine it could be he pump going on its way. Fourth is at idle. The zx2 idles kind of rough stock. Make sure there is a good tune up and all motor mounts are good in place.

Any more feel free to ask.

the noise you describe sounds like it could be related to either the timing belt or the serpentine belt, and their subsequent pulleys.

if you cannot isolate the noise enough to pinpoint which pulley is making the noise, then i’d recommend taking the serpentine belt off and firing up the car, sticking your head under the hood and listen to see if you still hear the noise. Don’t drive it or run it longer than a minute or so this way since you have stopped the water pump from functioning.

If you do still hear it, then it could be the timing belt walking on the pulleys and the noise you’re hearing is the belt chafing the inside of one of the plastic timing covers.

If the noise went away, inspect all the tensioner and idler pulleys. spin them and feel for any unnecessary roughness or noise. there are 3 to inspect, one under the altenator, one near the motor mount, and the one on the tensioner itself. Also, inspect the altenator and water pump to see if they have any unnecessary roughness or radial play.

Hopefully at this time you found your offending problem. If not, then it’s time to change the timing belt. Once you have the belt off, check the two idlers and tensioner for noise, excess play, or roughness when turning. If you have the sheckels, I’d recommend replacing all the pulleys now anyways since having to do the timing belt job again in short order because a bearing failed is not my idea of a good time.

Hope that helps…