I know that questions about the cam chain tensioner have been asked, as well as answered, a million times already, but please bare with me okay?
So I'm getting the infamous cam chain rattle on cold starts. I'm positive it is the usual since it is nearly identical to all the videos about them. The only peculiar thing is, that it only happens on cold starts plus when the weather gets below 10 degrees celsius. Once the weather is warm, the rattle on cold startups disappear.
It started during the last winter, then I had no idea about what it might be, since the noise disappeared with the coming of the spring I didn't make a fuss about it. During the spring and the summer (and most of autumn) I didn't hear it not even once. Now since the weather dropped below +10 degrees celsius, it has returned and is present basically with every cold start. It rattles only on cold starts and for a second or less.
Now to the real problem why I'm asking here. I'm on a seriously low budget right now and seeing as the tensioner isn't the cheapest thing to replace (seen on ebay for 150€, the OEM dealer priced it 450€ :O), my question is, how serious is this? Should I replace the tensioner+chain and gaskets ASAP? Or can it wait. Since it only happens during the chillier weather can the issue be in the oil pump and not even in the tensioner? I'm asking this after seeing and hearing a lot of gruesome things that this type of issue can do over time. Then again I've also heard that if the rattle is on cold starts and only for a second or two then it might not be a problem with the tensioner and could be normal? I absolutely appreciate any insight you guys might have.
Mind you my car is a '97 A3 1.8 AGN (free breather).