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Engine Ticking: What Could Be Causing It and How Can You Stop It?

Engine Ticking

From the second that you first start up your car, you’re going to hear all kinds of sounds coming from your engine. More often than not, the majority of these sounds are going to be perfectly normal. But every now and then, you might hear engine ticking coming from underneath your hood. And this is usually going to be at least a little bit of a cause for concern for you. You might not have to worry about engine ticking too much, but it could indicate a serious issue with your car in some cases. Take a few minutes to learn more about engine ticking below before finding out how you can stop it from occurring.

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What Is Engine Ticking?

First things first: Before we start talking about what you should do when you hear engine ticking coming from underneath your hood, you need to know exactly what you need to listen out for when it comes to your car’s engine. If you’ve never heard engine ticking, you might not be familiar with what it sounds like. This can make it difficult for you to keep an ear out for it and prevent you from noticing when your engine is ticking on you.


Generally speaking, engine ticking sounds what you would think it would sound like based on its name. It’s going to seem like your engine is ticking over and over again when you’re experiencing engine ticking. But it’s worth noting that you won’t always hear just ticking when your engine is ticking on you. You might also hear it clicking or even making a tapping sound when you have engine ticking going on. Your ears should perk up right away if you hear any of these sounds and suspect engine ticking.


You should also know that you can hear engine ticking in a variety of different situations. In some instances, you might hear engine ticking when your car first starts up and is idling. In others, you might hear engine ticking when your car is accelerating or even in the aftermath of you getting the oil in your car changed. Regardless of the situation, you’re almost always going to want to investigate engine ticking further to see what’s causing it.

Should You Be Concerned If You Hear Engine Ticking?

In just a second, we’re going to discuss what causes engine ticking and then segue into what steps you can take to stop engine ticking from taking place. But before we do, we need you to know this: Engine ticking does not always suggest that there is a serious problem with your engine. You’re typically not going to have to worry about doing major engine repairs when you have engine ticking going on.


But with that being said, that doesn’t mean that you should allow engine ticking to linger for any longer than it should have to. As soon as you start to hear engine ticking coming from underneath your hood, you should set out to find the cause of it by calling on a mechanic for assistance. If you wait too long to have engine ticking checked out, it could lead to further problems down the line for you. And that’s obviously the last thing that you want when it comes to your car’s engine.

What Causes Engine Ticking?

Now that you’re aware of what engine ticking is and how concerned you should be about it, it’s time for us to talk at length about what might be behind it. There are quite a few things that can cause engine ticking to occur, and it’s going to be important for you to try and pinpoint the specific problem that’s having an impact on your car. If you don’t, you’re going to continue to hear engine ticking. Keep reading to find out about some of the most common causes of engine ticking.

1. Little to No Oil

When is the last time that you had the oil in your car changed? If it’s been awhile now, then a lack of oil in your engine could be to blame for the engine ticking that you’re hearing. This is actually one of the most common causes of engine ticking. Those who don’t change their oil often enough or those who have an oil leak in their cars could be subjected to engine ticking because there is little to no oil in their vehicles.


Your engine will usually start to tick on you when there isn’t enough oil in it because the various components in your valve train won’t be lubricated as much as they should be. This can lead to worn-out gaskets and seals through your system, which will in turn produce engine ticking. If you don’t do something about this, that engine ticking could lead to your engine overheating on you and possibly even seizing up on you altogether.


This is one of the causes of engine ticking that you do not want to ignore under any circumstances. Most people know that it’s a terrible idea to drive around in a car that doesn’t have enough oil in it. You could put your engine at risk and potentially even cause your entire car to break down on you if you’re not diligent about keeping enough oil in it at all times.

2. Rod Knocking

A lack of oil in your car’s engine is far from the only issue that will cause engine ticking to occur. If you hear a ticking sound coming from your engine, it could also be caused by a rod knocking in it. There is a bearing that is attached to the rod in your engine, and when it goes bad, it’ll allow the rod to move around freely and create a ticking sound. You’ll hear your engine ticking until you replace the bearing and get the rod working like it’s supposed to.


This is one of the more serious problems that can plague a car owner and cause engine ticking. While it might seem as though it would be simple enough to fix a rod knocking issue, you’re actually going to have to call on a mechanic to rebuild your whole engine for you to correct the problem at hand. And you’re also not going to have a choice as far as whether or not you have to do it. You can do some serious damage to your engine if you don’t fix a rod knocking issue and get it under control.

3. Faulty Reciprocating Components

There are a number of reciprocating components in your car’s engine that can cause engine ticking to set in. Some of these components include the pistons in your engine, the valves in it, the pushrods, and more. They’re often the culprits when mechanics start looking into the reason for engine ticking.


Over time, it’s not all that uncommon for all of the different reciprocating components that we just mentioned to wear out. When they do, it’ll often result in them making ticking sounds. These ticking sounds can then evolve into clunking or even whining sounds, which can indicate that the problem is getting worse. And if you don’t do something about it? You could have even bigger issues on your hands before long.


The problem with faulty reciprocating components is that they can be tricky to diagnose. A mechanic will have to pop the hood on your car and spend a decent amount of time digging around to find out what’s causing engine ticking to occur. This can be a time-consuming process and might take some trial and error for them to get to the bottom of what’s wrong with your engine.

4. Valve Train Issues

Most people know that the engines in their cars play an extremely important part in the overall well-being of their vehicles. But what they don’t always realize is what a huge role timing plays in an engine. There are lots of valves located within an engine that are always opening and closing, and if those valves don’t open and close at just the right times, it can wreak havoc on an engine as a whole.


There may be times when the valve train in an engine needs to be adjusted to get the timing just right in it. When these times come, the lack of timing within an engine might cause ticking sounds. At that point, everything from the rocker arm in an engine to the camshaft will need to be inspected, and the valve train will need to be adjusted to stop engine ticking. Otherwise, the components within your engine won’t move around at the right times and engine ticking will continue.

5. Firing Fuel Injectors

Remember how we said earlier that you won’t always have to be too worried when you hear engine ticking? That’s going to be the case if you experience this specific “problem” with your engine. That’s because it’s not actually a problem at all! It will produce engine ticking, but it won’t be anything you need to be concerned about.


When the fuel injectors in your car are activated and firing fuel, they will sometimes make a ticking sound that sounds just like all the other ticking sounds we’ve talked about here. But the difference between these sounds and those sounds is that these ones will be normal. They’ll be nothing more than an indication that your fuel injectors are working as intended. This is a best-case scenario for anyone that has noticed engine ticking coming from their car.

How Can You Fix Engine Ticking?

As you can see, there are so many things that can cause engine ticking to occur in your car. Everything from a lack of oil to problems with your valve train can result in engine ticking. So, how do you fix it? Well, it really all depends.


In some cases, the only thing that you’re going to need to do to get engine ticking to stop is put oil into your car. That alone should do the trick and stop engine ticking from affecting your vehicle. But in other situations, you might have to call on an experienced mechanic to rip your engine apart and rebuild it to prevent engine ticking.


You also might not have to do anything at all to avoid engine ticking. It could simply be showing you that your fuel injectors are doing their jobs. Still, that doesn’t mean that you should roll the dice and avoid having a mechanic check your car out to see what’s happening behind the scenes and causing engine ticking. You should make a service appointment for your car right away to get to the bottom of the problem.

Should You Continue to Drive a Car When You Hear Engine Ticking?

Anytime you hear engine ticking, you might wonder whether or not it’s safe to continue to drive your car. It’s almost impossible to tell, which is why you shouldn’t tempt fate by trying to drive your car when it’s making ticking sounds. While the sounds might not be anything, they could show that your car is in need of engine repairs right away.


The best thing that you can usually do is contact a local ASE-certified mechanic or, better yet, an engine specialist and arrange to have them look at your car’s engine. They can find out what’s causing engine ticking and make the right repairs to your car to get the ticking to stop once and for all.

Can You Get Rid of a Car That’s Experiencing Engine Ticking?

If you have an older car that’s demonstrating signs of engine ticking, you might not want to spend a dime trying to fix it. This is the approach that most people will take when they have an old car that’s not worth much money anymore. But they don’t always know what to do with a car that has an engine ticking, which leaves them in a tricky spot.


Fortunately, it’s simple enough to sell your car to junk car buyers when this is the case, even with engine ticking going on. Cash Cars Buyer will gladly make you an offer for your car in spite of the strange sounds coming from your engine. You can collect cash for your car and be on your way. It’ll prevent you from having to worry about your engine ticking anymore. Contact us today to see how easy it is to get an offer for your old car.

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