Your car’s engine is its heart. It functions to produce the power required to start and propel the vehicle. Most driving conditions need the engine to be operating continuously.
The engine shouldn’t make any accelerating or idle clicking or ticking noises. Therefore, if your engine makes any ticking noises when it is idle, the problem has to be fixed right away.
It is unnecessary to emphasize the significance of keeping your car’s engine in top shape. Your car’s functionality depends heavily on the engine’s performance.
Several factors can lead to engine problems. An engine that receives little to no routine maintenance is typically more prone to problems in the long term. Therefore, it is crucial to get your engine checked out and fixed by a trained expert.
Identifying or addressing an engine problem as soon as possible is crucial before it becomes more problematic and costly to fix. You’ll save on expensive repairs, the engine of your automobile will last longer, and your favorite car will last longer.
Your car’s functioning and driving experience are improved when the engine operates at peak efficiency.
The engine is often built such that it runs quietly. However, several situations might cause the engine of your car to create odd ticking sounds while it’s operating.
In rare cases, the car can make a ticking sound without needing to speed. Even when it is only idle, the sounds will be produced. With so many moving parts in an engine, it can be challenging to identify which component is making the ticking noises.
Is a Ticking Sound In Engine While Idling Normal?
Yes, you should pay attention to any ticking noises originating from the engine area. However, not all of these noises are necessarily alarming. Ticking noises are typical in various car types. It’s possible that you were never aware of these low noises until you let your automobile idle in a small area where the sound was magnified.
Gases are kept in the vehicle’s charcoal canister and discharged through a purge valve into the engine’s intake. The gases are then burnt in the engine’s intake after that. The purge valve often ticks while it operates.
Here are a few ticking engine noise reasons that may be ignored. However, it’s crucial to avoid making assumptions about any odd noises coming from your car’s undercarriage. Always pay close attention to any tiny variations in the engine noises your car makes.
1. The Injectors
The fuel injectors in the engine should typically make a ticking noise. This is due to the electrical actuation of the injectors. As a result, when they operate, they make a purchasing or ticking noise. However, if the car has malfunctioning fuel injectors, the ticking noise could be stronger or louder.
2. The Purging Valve
The vehicle’s charcoal canister stores gases, which are released through the purge valve into the engine’s intake. After then, the gases are burned in the engine’s intake. The purge valve usually makes a ticking noise as it works.
3. The PCV Valve
The PCV valve occasionally making a ticking noise is typical. There is no need to be alarmed because this is typical with aged PCV valves. However, if the ticking noise worsens, it is advised to have the PCV valve replaced.
What are the Usual Causes of the Ticking Sound In Engine While Idling?
Depending on how the engine is built, a car generating a ticking noise can be typical. For instance, fuel-injected engines can cause a ticking sound in an automobile from the firing of the injector. Small electrical valves called fuel injectors to create clicking and ticking noises when they open and close fast at idle. It’s typical for the injectors to tick, so you may drive without concern.
However, under some circumstances, a ticking sound in the automobile might be a major problem:
1. A Defective or Faulty Engine Fan
Your car’s engine fan may be broken or loose if you hear a tapping or ticking noise coming from underneath the hood. Fortunately, any engine fan problems may be quickly found with a visual check. To determine if the clips and bolts keeping the engine fan in place are there or not, check and inspect them.
Additionally, you can determine whether the fan blades or shroud are damaged or worn out just by glancing at them. When the engine is running, any contact with the shroud or other parts, including cables or belts, might cause a ticking sound since the fan blades are spinning to force cold air into the radiator. Turn on your engine and look to see if anything is rubbing against the rotating fan blades.
Retighten any slack bolts and clips. It’s also a good idea to swap out any worn-out or broken components before they become major issues. Additionally, avoid touching or even attempting to repair the engine fan or fan blades while they are in motion. This puts you in danger and might seriously hurt you. It is recommended to use a competent professional’s services if you lack experience.
2. Failure of the Fuel Injector
As was previously said, your engine’s ticking noise can be typical. When the fuel injectors start firing, the fuel injection system in a Subaru probably makes a ticking noise.
When a valve train is misaligned, ticking sounds are a given. Uncorrected valve trains are frequently the major culprit behind ticking sounds in idle engines
You don’t need to be concerned about the ticking noises if this is the case. But some automobiles don’t tick when they’re brand new, so if yours does, and it happens after a while, have it checked out.
The injector valves tend to tick as they swiftly open and close to let the proper quantity of gasoline into the internal combustion chambers. It is essential to check with the dealership before assuming the ticking sound is a regular aspect of your car’s functionality. The injectors need to be changed if their ticking behavior is abnormal.
3. Leaking Exhaust Manifold
Your car’s exhaust system is in charge of carefully releasing the fuel that has been burned. The apparent exhaust pipe at the back of your automobile is only one part of the exhaust system.
It is a network of sensors, mufflers, and pipes. Due to corrosion, road debris, or collision and abrasion, the exhaust can occasionally develop leaks. A ticking noise might be the result of an exhaust manifold leak. Due to the manifold’s proximity to the engine, this can appear to be coming from the engine.
Even though there might not be an immediate urgency, it is a good idea to have the leak corrected as soon as possible. In addition to making unpleasant ticking noises, such leaks send poisonous chemicals into the air.
Leaks in the exhaust manifold lengthen the warm-up time, which raises your fuel usage. We should make sure a leaky manifold is changed right away because of this.
4. Defective Lifters
The hydraulic valve lifter is a little cylinder that is connected to the hydraulic valve of your car through the rocker’s arm. Lifter tick is a well-known occurrence where the lifter makes obnoxious ticking noises.
Depending on how serious the issue is, the engine may tick continuously or only sometimes. This problem is more likely to arise in older car models. It may still happen in almost any car, though.
The ticker issue is more likely to emerge in hydraulic lifters than in some mechanical and solid lifters.
However, why does it occur? Lifter tick is frequently the first sign of an underlying oil issue. Sometimes the only issue is that the lifters need to be changed since they are worn out. It may be worn-out lifters if you experience this problem with an older car that you have been driving for a long period.
In most new modern automobiles, the lifter tick is frequently caused by an oil problem. The hydraulic lifters may develop sludge or grit from the engine oil, which will produce ticking noises.
Ticking often begins when the lifters become ineffective. Additionally, the lifter tick might happen if you use oil that has an inappropriate viscosity, or is too thick or thin.
5. Valves That are Unadjusted
Ticking noises are a given when a valve train is out of adjustment. Usually, uncorrected valve trains are the main cause of ticking noises in engines when they are idle.
The valves must open and close once for each complete engine rotation. In a single cam engine, the rocker’s arm acts as a lever to open the valves while the pushrods are moved by the cam.
The lobes of the camshaft pressurize the valves of an overhead cam engine. Since the valves move quickly and across a small space, the distance between the valve and the pushrod or cam must be highly exact.
The exhaust occasionally leaks because of corrosion, debris from the road, collisions, and abrasion. A leak in the exhaust manifold may cause a ticking sound.
This distance is managed using shims and other modifications. The distance does tend to wander outside of tolerance, though, as regular wear and tear occur.
As these parts move about while the engine is idle, a ticking noise is made. This happens when the engine’s parts have too much flexibility in them. The rocker arms may be simply adjusted, or new shims can be installed to eliminate excessive play or clearance.
6. A Knocking Rod
Rod banging is not a frequent engine issue but is conceivable. This is fortunate since fixing it would be rather expensive. If you have a rod knock, it is simple to identify since the ticking becomes a rather strong knocking.
The rods, which are moved by the pistons, turn the crankshaft. The rod has several bearings attached to it to keep it stable while traveling.
However, when these bearings deteriorate, the rods start to jostle. While the engine is running, this process causes a ticking noise to be heard. Although the engine’s temperature is unaffected, you will notice a reduction in RPM, which makes acceleration difficult.
You will disassemble the entire engine to replace the worn-out bearings because of where they are located. This increases the cost of fixing a rod knock.
To stop the ticking noises, having the bearings replaced when there is a rod knock issue is frequently a temporary but expensive fix. The motor must be completely replaced as the only effective fix. Even though it may appear excessively pricey, other alternatives will eventually fail.
7. A Loose Spark Plug
Your car’s engine will misfire if your spark plugs are defective, just like it will if your valves are out of alignment. If the spark plugs were recently changed but you still hear a ticking noise, they can be installed or loose.
Spark plugs that are damaged or loose make a ticking sound. If you have a broken or loose spark plug, you can usually tell rather quickly.
Spark plugs isolate the combustion chambers of your engine. Therefore, when the engine is operating, gas will leak out of the cylinder. This is what makes the clock start to tick.
The cylinder head threads are prone to be stripped by incompatible plugs, which makes it unable to control the cylinder compression. Additionally, this may lead to issues with low engine compression, which will negatively affect the performance of your automobile.
Start by physically checking your spark plugs to determine whether they are damaged or loose. Only do this when the engine has cooled off and is not running.
Replace the spark plugs right away if you see any cracks. Check to determine whether the spark plugs move by removing the spark plug wire. The manufacturer’s instructions should be followed to tighten any loose spark plugs.
8. Normal Vehicle Components Wear
The most frequent cause of a ticking noise in an engine when it is idling is undoubtedly normal wear. As was previously mentioned, various engine parts, such as injectors, are anticipated to create ticking noises while running.
The injectors often create a sound similar to a pencil tapping on a hardwood surface when they are functioning properly. Subaru is one of the automakers that produce more injector ticking noise than the others.
As it ages, the valvetrain also makes a ticking sound. Normal wear on the valves, pushrods, lifters, and camshaft causes a minor ticking sound to be produced.
If the ticking noise is coming from them, their points can overheat. The outcome is that they get weaker.
Even with an overhead cam engine, there will still be a very little ticking sound as the engine parts deteriorate. In this instance, the valve stems are in close contact with the cam lobes. The camshafts of an overhead cam engine are driven by chains.
These interior parts move hundreds of millions of times every time your car idles or you go to the store and return. As a result, they will eventually deteriorate.
These assemblies travel incredibly little distances when they are brand new and are carefully put together. They deteriorate and get looser over time. They could start making a ticking noise when the engine runs as a result.
9. Defective Reciprocating Parts
It is often a reciprocating component rather than a rotating component that emits a ticking sound when an engine component does so.
Reciprocating parts should receive greater attention since they are the most likely offenders. Pushrods, valves, and pistons are a few examples of such components. Ticking noises are an inescapable result of malfunctioning, damaged, or worn-out reciprocating parts.
It would be better if you thought about replacing the parts as soon as you hear the odd ticking noises. This is due to the possibility that they might escalate to noisier sounds, like clunking and even whining. Here are some of the reciprocating parts and how they could produce unsettling noises.
These reciprocating parts of your car’s engine move around the most. As a result, they frequently disappear fast. Engine ticking noises may be a result of a piston issue, such as excessive wear and tear or corrosion.
Pistons are essential to the engine’s ability to produce power. If the pistons are defective, ticking noises should be the least of your issues. Therefore, use the ticking as a caution to replace the pistons as soon as feasible.
Pushrods That are Bent
Pushrods are reciprocating parts that, if broken, can make a ticking noise. When you repeatedly push your automobile too hard or treat it like a race car, the pushrods are easily bent.
This bending movement is frequently caused by the pushrods’ inability to tolerate a certain speed of depression. It is best to replace the pushrods in this situation before they cause irreparable damage to your engine.
10. Low Level of Engine Oil
When you drive your automobile with low engine oil levels, excessive wear and overheating are the most typical problems. You might be surprised to learn that ticking noises can also be caused by low engine oil levels.
The internal engine parts are lubricated by the engine oil, which also serves as a cooling agent. Your engine oil running low can happen for many reasons.
Low oil levels cause ineffective lubrication, which is why engines with low oil levels make a ticking noise. This frequently happens because the oil does not reach all of the engine’s operating components.
The metal engine components are pushed to rub against one another forcefully in the absence of sufficient lubrication. This might cause a ticking noise to emanate from the engine area.
The engine oil must go to the upper part of the engine for the engine parts to be suitably lubricated. A little oil can’t get to the upper part in this situation.
The most reciprocating components of the car’s engine are these. They typically disintegrate quickly as a result. A piston problem, such as excessive wear and tear or corrosion, can be the cause of engine ticking noises.
As the engine idles, a loud tapping or ticking sound will be made by the metal parts rubbing against one another. Timing chain and valvetrain parts typically cause the ticking sound when the engine’s oil level is low.
Should You Be Concerned About Ticking Sound In Engine While Idling?
It varies. It is usually typical for your car’s engine, which uses fuel injectors, to make ticking noises. Likely, you don’t know whether your car has fuel injectors if you know very little to nothing about automobiles or engines.
This enigma should be able to be resolved with some web research. When in doubt, it’s usually a good idea to call your technician.
The majority of seasoned technicians can determine how most engines should sound if they are in top shape, so it is a good idea to come in for routine maintenance. If the technician discovers that a specific part or component is the source of the ticking noises, it is advised to replace those parts right away.
All typical causes will be thoroughly inspected and diagnosed by the mechanic. Check the engine oil level if there are no problems with the engine.
If the ticking sound is out of the ordinary, your engine’s performance will suffer. For instance, rod knocking can damage the engine because it causes many mini-explosions that weaken the combustion chamber’s inner walls.
Such erosion may ultimately result in the breakdown of an engine block. The spark plug points may overheat if the ticking noise is coming from the spark plugs. The spark plugs get weaker as a result.
How Can the Ticking Sound In Engine While Idling Harm the Engine?
Knocking may have a significant negative impact on the engine because, as we already discussed, it causes numerous micro-explosions that may create tiny holes in the inner walls of the combustion chamber, all of which will cause the chamber to deform and alter its shape.
As a result of erosion, the engine block may eventually fail. It also causes the spark plug points to begin to overheat, which weakens them over time.
If the ticking noise is coming from the cylinder head, worn valves from defective lifters are most likely to blame.
If your crankshaft bearings are worn out, you need to act right away. A catastrophic engine breakdown is imminent if you keep operating the engine with this problem.
How Do You Diagnose the Ticking Sound In Engine While Idling?
The first step in resolving engine ticking when the motor is idle is to find the source of the problem. You may stop the ticking if the spark plugs were placed incorrectly by replacing them properly.
Spark plugs with cracks need to be changed right away. Before attempting to put the replacement spark plugs on the engine, be sure they are compatible.
The best solution is to have the worn-out or defective reciprocating components replaced if they are the source of the annoying noise.
Although it may appear pricey, it is worthwhile because alternative treatments will only be short-term. Have a qualified mechanic inspect your car for broken pushrods, pistons, or other reciprocating parts.
The pistons propel the rods, which spin the crankshaft. Several bearings are mounted to the rod to keep it steady while it is moving. When the bearings are worn out, they produce a ticking sound when the car is in idle mode.
Changing or topping up the engine oil is the simplest yet most efficient approach to stop an engine ticking noise. For the engine to function properly, oil is necessary.
It lubricates the internal metal parts, which if they weren’t lubricated would aggressively rub against one another and finally cause an engine failure. The most frequent cause of engine ticking sounds, as previously mentioned, is insufficient engine oil.
Finally, if you discover that the ticking noise is originating from the bottom of the engine, it is frequently an indication of deteriorating crankshaft bearings. The oil pan has to be taken out to obtain a better look.
If this is the cause of the ticking sounds, replace the bearings right away or get a professional technician to do the task. Your car’s engine will sustain severe harm if you wait too long.
How Can I Fix Ticking Sound in Engine While Idling?
The several factors that might produce engine ticking sounds will determine how to remedy it. As a result, several strategies will be required to address this issue.
1. Top Off or Change Your Engine’s Oil
Oil has a role in some engine ticks. You should change it when it’s soiled. Try topping it with suggested oil additives if it’s low.
Leaks from worn-out gaskets or seals may cause low oil levels. To halt the leaks, you can apply additives like Blue Devil oil. There will always be adequate oil in a leak-free engine. As a result, stop ticking sounds and maintain constant lubrication of your engine components.
2. Utilize Oil Additives to Clean Engine Components and Oil
Special fluids called oil additives are used to purify engine oil. The viscosity of the oil (its weight or thickness) is unaffected by this fluid. Along with cleaning the oil, it can also clean other engine components including lifters, rocker arms, valves, etc.
Regularly cleaning your engine oil using oil additives will improve your car’s performance. Please consult your owner’s handbook for the appropriate additions for your vehicle’s oil.
3. Replace Corroded Spark Plugs
The internal combustion engine’s head is where spark plugs are located. They won’t seat properly if they are worn out, which will allow gasses to bypass and make the engine click. You need to change the defective spark plugs if you want to get rid of these ticking sounds.
4. Carry Out Some Adjustments to Valves
The pushrods and valves need to be separated by a certain amount. The valves won’t open and close at the appropriate times if they are not correctly aligned. There will be an engine clicking sound if this occurs.
Therefore, make sure the valves are appropriately set to provide the proper time for opening and closing. This is especially valid for vehicles with higher mileage.
5. Perform Some Adjustments to the Lifter Spacing
The engine will make a clicking sound if the lifter is too tight or too loose. To get rid of this noise, make sure it is balanced. Lifter adjustments can be time-consuming, therefore a professional technician may be needed to do them for you.
However, you may find detailed instructions on how to adjust lifters in your car’s owner’s handbook.
They stop debris from contaminating the engine oil. Ineffective filters that let dirt into the engine oil may be to blame for an engine ticking noise.
6. Carry Out the Engine Pushrod Replacement
Together with the valves and lifters, the pushrods operate. They impact the lifters and other engine components and produce an engine clicking noise if they are bent or worn out. Replace the engine pushrods to get rid of this noise.
7. Change Faulty Oil Filters with New Ones
Oil filters prevent dirt from getting into the engine oil. A clicking sound in the engine might be attributed to bad filters that let dirt into the engine oil. Make careful you replace defective oil filters to prevent this.
8. Replace Defective or Worn-Out Pulley Drives
Pulleys that are defective or worn out will not rotate properly with bearings. When accelerating or idling, the engine will make a ticking sound as long as they are not spinning properly. Hire a mechanic to replace them to prevent this.
9. Replace Faulty Bearings
Rods will knock and produce engine noise if their bearings are damaged and attached to them. Therefore, be careful to replace worn-out bearings to prevent damage to the rods.
You will need to rebuild the complete engine if a faulty bearing is the cause of your rod knocking. Avoid doing this chore since it will cost you money.
10. Fix Leaking Exhaust Manifolds
In addition to the engine clicking sounds, exhaust manifold leaks cause the environment to be filled with hazardous vapors that contain carbon monoxide. This prolongs the warm-up period, increasing fuel usage rather than decreasing it. Therefore, be careful to promptly repair the exhaust manifold.
Why Does My Engine Still Tick After Changing the Oil?
After changing your oil, your engine may still tick for a variety of reasons.
1. Inappropriate Motor Oil Level
It’s conceivable that your oil never reached the proper level after you changed it. The best course of action is to top it off with the advised oil until it reaches its maximum operational volume.
2. Existing Leaks in the System
There can be leaks after changing your oil. The oil level may drop due to this leak, which may also sound like a ticking. Make sure you thoroughly check the oil filter and plugs for fluid leaks.
While your car is running, lay a piece of cardboard beneath the engine to look for leaks. After some time, check to see whether any oil has fallen on it.
3. Existence of Loose Oil Filter or Drain Plug
During an oil change, these two parts might get partially loosened and generate leaks that sound like ticking.
How Much Does a Ticking Engine Cost to Repair?
Depending on the source of the tick and the make and model of your automobile, engine repair costs may vary.
Their lobes pressurize the valves of an overhead cam engine. Since the valves move quickly and across a small space, the distance between the valve and the pushrod or camshaft must be highly exact.
If the lifter is the source of the tick, an oil problem is most likely. Oil changes are reasonably priced. You would pay between $25 and $50 for it. However, you could have to pay between $1000 and $1500 to replace a whole lifter if the damage is more severe.
Between $300 and $400 would be spent on the lifter as a whole, with the remainder going toward labor expenditures. This is because switching lifters is a time-consuming and very difficult task that requires expertise.
If the pushrods are the cause of the issue, replacing them will cost between $600-$1000. Additionally difficult and time-consuming, this procedure requires a professional to do.
Repair costs are high when knock rod issues are brought on by defective bearings attached to the rod. This is because you will need to completely rebuild your engine by replacing several parts. Depending on your engine type, this might cost between $900 and $1500.
Typically, to remedy engine clicking sounds, you need first have a professional determine what is making the noise. then find out how much it will cost to repair the parts.
Engine ticking noises can be brought on by broken pushrods, valves, mufflers, or other exhaust system parts. Or it can be a result of the engine’s routine activity. First, investigate to see what is making the ticking sounds and when it occurs.
You shouldn’t be concerned if the noise is coming from parts like fuel injectors, PCV valves, purge valves, etc. As they operate, they frequently generate a clicking sound.
However, if the noise is coming from pulley drives, lifters, bearings, etc., you must have these inspected and changed as necessary. Otherwise, more expensive engine components will be ruined.
Nyangano Maurice specializes in vehicle troubleshooting and has more than 10 years of experience in the automobile industry. Over many years of experience as a car mechanic, he has acquired a broad range of skills, including engine repair, brake systems, electrical systems, and more. He frequently hosts community workshops and training programs to help motor vehicle owners understand their vehicles better.