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Hello...

I have a very well cared for 2001 Focus ZX3 with 55k miles. I am the second owner. I bought it from an old lady who rarely drove it. At the time it had approximately 20k miles.

Just last week out of the blue, the engine developed a chatter coming from the left side of the engine, timing belt or accessory belt area.

Does anyone have any ideas on what this noise may be? There are no other performance or electrical issues at the moment. I have not taken off timing belt cover. I understand the timing belt should be replaced around 80-90k miles. Could mine need replacement earlier despite mileage since it's 10 years old? Could it just be a tensioner on either belt? Alternator starting to go? Any feedback is appreciated.

Regards,
Stefano
 

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First off, left and right hand of cars is determined by sitting in the vehicle- always, all vehicles. Rt= passenger side. That keeps us all on the same page. Brits drive on the right side of the car, and we drive on the right side of the road.

I would assume the accessory belt is the problem first, however you should inspect the timing belt since it is so old in age. I'd remove the accessory belt and rotate the idler and tensioner pulleys. See if those feel rumbling when rotating.

If you're also experiencing a lot of vibrations, then your problem might be the motor mount, and vibrations are what's causing the sound. The front engine mount on the RT side is a common problem on these cars. The OEM mount is hydraulic filled, and fluid leaks out eventually. This leads to vibrations at low engine speeds. The only good mounts are Motorcraft, or solid polyurethane replacements. The solid mounts cause more vibration, but never go bad. k
 
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