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I have had several folks give several different answers to this issue. I have a 91 spider with 38K (original) miles that makes a noise like dice in a can through all 5 gears when the engine is under load (especially 5th gear) or at speed (in gear, very little load) I have been told it is the:
1. valves tapping
2. knocking (I use 92 octane fuel exclusively)
3. idler pulley out of adjustment
4. "somethin's loose in there"

It is going tot he local Alfa mechanic later this week for service and I would like to have some idea. Anyone got any advice?
Thanks!
 

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and it might even be your cat converter that is coming apart inside
Traced my funny noise there a few weeks ago, and I was sure that it was coming from engine compartement
 

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Try this:

With the engine cold, lift the car (supporting appropriately) and using your hand, tap lightly on the cat converter and other parts of the exhaust. When the converters get some age on them, the metal grids inside break loose and can rattle.
Wiggle the heat shields as well. Usually they are attached with sheet metal screws, which can work loose.
 
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