5 Causes of Engine Ticking Noise: at Idle, Accelerating, and After Oil Change

A car engine is bound to make noises. After all, there are so many moving components and parts inside of an engine as it is running. Most of these noises are not very loud and they are nothing to worry about. But there are times when engine noises will sound a bit unusual or strange. The greatest example of this is when there is a ticking noise coming from the engine. A ticking noise could be caused by any number of reasons, such as a low amount of oil and loose components. You may hear the ticking noise while the vehicle is idle, accelerating or even after you have received an oil change. To understand which reason it is, you must understand the signs to watch out for.

The Top 5 Causes

Below are the top 5 causes of an engine ticking noise:

1) Bad Reciprocating Components – When there is a ticking noise in the engine and it concerns a particular component, then it will usually be a reciprocating component that is to blame and not a rotating component. Some examples of reciprocating components include pushrods, pistons, and valves. If any of these components were to become worn out, damaged, or go bad for whatever reason, you will begin to hear ticking noises. If you don’t replace these components in a timely manner, the ticking noises may progress into a whining or clunking noise.

2) Low Amount of Oil – When you have low amounts of oil in your engine, this will cause the components of the valvetrain to cause ticking sounds because the components are not being lubricated enough. The reason for low engine oil could be due to a leak somewhere. Perhaps you have damaged or worn out gaskets or seals. Either way, you will know if you have low engine oil because your engine will start to overheat. It needs the oil to cool it off. Therefore, if you hear ticking sounds in addition to any of these other symptoms, then it is due to low engine oil levels.

3) Rod Knocking – If the bearing attached to the rod has gone bad, then the rod will knock around and cause a ticking sound. This could happen if you have a worn out bearing because it will cause the rod to move. There won’t be any temperature changes to the engine, but the RPM of the engine will change. The solution to fixing the rod knocking problem would be to rebuild your motor, which is going to be rather expensive. But it will have to be done sooner or later.

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4) Fuel Injectors Firing – This would be a normal reason for engine ticking. Certain model cars with a fuel injection system will have ticking sounds whenever the fuel injectors start firing. This is basically the valves of the injectors that are opening and closing fast in order to allow the proper fuel amount to enter the internal combustion chamber. This sound is nothing to worry about and it is part of the normal operation of your vehicle.

5) Valves Not Adjusted – A valve train that is not adjusted will cause ticking sounds. This is the usual cause of these sounds, so you might want to check this first. When your engine spins a couple of times, the valves open and close. There is something called a rocker arm which is responsible for opening and closing the valves. The camshaft has a pushrod which controls the rocker arm and it needs to be the precise distance from the valve. This is especially true because the valves move fast and at a short distance. If the adjustments are not exactly right, then the components will move around and cause the ticking sounds.

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