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Is it Worth Fixing Engine Tapping? A Complete Guide!

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The unusual sounds you hear from the engine like tapping or clicking noises are some of the signs it gives to the drivers to let them know there is a problem somewhere in the engine. Engine tapping can be caused by a number of problems such as malfunctioning valve lifters, exhaust manifold leaks, faulty valve trains, low oil level, bad belt tensioner or pulleys, sticking engine parts, worn bearings, or too low octane. If you ask, is it worth fixing engine tapping? The answer really depends on what caused it. If the engine tapping is caused by something severe, then it might not be worth repairing.

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Since engine tapping can be caused by something minor such as low oil level or something serious such as a bad lifter or sticking engine parts, you need to determine what caused the problem so you can decide if it is worth fixing engine tapping. Oil leaks can be repaired for about $150 while replacing bad lifters can cost around $1,000 to $2,500. So is it worth fixing engine tapping? If the market value of your car is less than the total repair bill, then it might not be worth it. You can just sell your damaged car to build a budget for a new car.



Is it Worth Fixing Engine Tapping? –   Why is My Engine Making a Tapping Sound?



The engine is composed of many moving parts and components. It is the reason why you should expect that a running engine makes purring sounds and some soft noises. But if the sound or noises you hear from your engine is unusual or loud such as engine tapping or ticking, then it is not normal. They can be an indication that something is wrong within the system.


If you hear engine tapping sounds, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is the repair bill. It is no secret that the engine is one of the most expensive car parts to repair. You might ask, is it worth fixing engine tapping? While the engine tapping noise is an indication that there is a problem somewhere, not all problems that caused it will require an expensive fix. Some issues that caused engine tapping are minor ones that can be easily fixed.


To determine if it is worth fixing engine tapping, you need to know what caused it. Engine tapping can be caused by the following issues:


  • Malfunctioning valve lifters


Hydraulic valve lifters use oil pressure to expand the lifter that gives a zero valve lash clearance. This is what keeps the valve from tapping. The valve and spring in the lifter enables it to keep expanding and retaining the oil within the lifter when the engine is turned off. Now, when the oil is allowed to drain from the lifter because of the malfunctioning valve or spring, it will collapse.


When this happens, the lifter may take a while to pump up and expand as the oil pressure is being built up in the engine upon start up. This can cause the valves to tap since there will be clearance between the rocker arm and lifter. If you ask, is it worth fixing engine tapping? If the problem is caused by malfunctioning valve lifters, you might need to replace them. Replacing the valve lifters will usually need major disassembly of the engine.


A bad lifter that needs to be replaced can cost somewhere between $1,000 and $2,500. You can try to do some temporary fix like adding oil additives. There are oil additives sold in the market today that can free sticking filters. However, if the problem can’t be fixed by these products, a lifter replacement will be the only solution.


  • Exhaust leaks


Engine tapping can be caused by an exhaust leak. This can happen when there are broken manifold bolts or a blown head gasket. You can check your exhaust system and do a visual inspection. Inspect your exhaust manifold for any signs of cracks or leaks from its gaskets. If you spot black soot marks where the exhaust manifold connects to the cylinder head, then it can be an indication that there is indeed an exhaust manifold gasket leak.


You should also check your system for any broken exhaust manifold bolts as well as the gasket area where the manifold bolts to the system’s exhaust pipe. If the exhaust leaks are small, they can usually seal on their own once the metal parts of the engine are heated and expanded. Fortunately, this problem can be easily fixed by taking your car to an auto repair shop. Mechanics can patch these parts up. An exhaust leak repair usually costs between $100 and $800. The price can vary depending on where the exhaust leak is located.


  • Faulty valve trains


Another thing that can cause engine tapping noises is a faulty valve train. The engine is equipped with a number of valves that are working together to make sure that the engine will work properly and sufficiently. These valves are the ones that control the intake and exhaust valves. However, these valves can become faulty over time due to normal wear and tear and some other reasons.


The valve trains can eventually become misadjusted and when this happens, it can cause the tapping or ticking sounds. This can happen since when the engine spins for a few times, the valves will open and close. The rocker arm is the one responsible for opening and closing these valves. There is a camshaft with a pushrod that controls this rocker arm and it has to be at an exact distance from the valve since the valves move very fast and at a short distance. If it is misadjusted, it can cause these components to move around and create the tapping sounds.


Aside from the tapping sound, it can also lead to misfires and reduced power and performance so one way or another, the tapping sound needs to be fixed. If you ask, is it worth fixing engine tapping? If fixing it means you have to repair or adjust the valve train, then it will be worth it. The adjustment will only cost you around $80 to $150.


  • Low oil level


Low oil level can cause some of the engine components to cause tapping sounds. This can happen when these components are not being lubricated enough. If you notice unusual sounds coming from your engine, you should check your oil level right away. If it is low, you can top it off to prevent any further damage.


However, you need to find out or investigate why your oil level is low. You should check your car for any signs of oil leaks. You can check the surface under your car, right below where the engine is located to see if there are any leaks or small drips or puddles of oil.


Oil leaks can be caused by worn gaskets or seals. Regardless of what caused it, the problem should be corrected right away since it can lead to engine overheating. If you ask, is it worth fixing engine tapping? It will be worth it if the problem is caused by a low oil level. You can just top it off or repair the leaks if there is any. Oil leaks can usually be repaired for about $150. However, if the leak is caused by something more serious, the cost can go up to $1,200 or more. If this is the case, you need to assess your vehicle and its condition to know if it is worth fixing engine tapping.


  • Bad belt tensioner or pulleys


When you hear an engine tapping noise, you tend to assume quickly that the sound is coming from the engine. However, there are times when the noise does not come from it at all. The sound can sometimes be coming from the accessory belt. This can happen since when the engine spins, it will turn a belt that is connected to many different pulleys throughout the engine bay. The belt should be at the right, precise amount of tension in order to turn quietly and smoothly.


If the belt becomes faulty due to normal wear and tear and becomes stretched out, the tensioner won’t work like it’s supposed to and this can cause tapping, clicking, or rattling noises. The same problem can also happen when one of the pulleys becomes bent. Fortunately, if the engine tapping is caused by these issues, you will just have to replace the belt, adjust the tension, or replace a bad tensioner or accessory pulley to fix the problem. Replacing a belt tensioner can cost between $200 and $250 while a pulley replacement can cost somewhere between $80 and $200.


  • Sticking engine parts


When the engine components are starved of oil or have worn down due to normal wear and tear, it can cause some engine parts to stick which can lead to engine tapping. The noise can be produced when there is a metal to metal contact caused by an excessive play between the crankshaft and the connecting rod. You will know if this is what’s causing the engine tapping noise when the sound grows louder when you try to accelerate.


  • Worn bearings


Bad or worn bearings can also cause the engine tapping sounds. This happens eventually since the bearings wear down or deteriorate as they age. This can result in spacing or wiggling which may produce tapping noises. Replacing bearings in the engine is often a laborious repair since the mechanic needs to get deep into the engine to reset bearings that have become dislodged or misplaced due to some factors such as vibrations and other issues within the system.


If this is the case, then the answer to the question, is it worth fixing engine tapping, is no. If you have it repaired or replaced by a professional, it will usually cost between $2,000 and $3,000 for all parts and labor. This repair should only be done by a professional with a substantial skill to do the job. If you think that it is not worth fixing engine tapping, you can just sell your car as is and move on. There are companies such as Cash Cars Buyer that buy cars even if they are damaged.


  • Too low octane


Too low octane in your system can also cause unusual noises to occur such as tapping and clicking sounds. The air and fuel mixture burns up in one, controlled detonation inside each cylinder when the engine of your car is running smoothly. If the air and fuel mixture in the cylinders is detonating in more than one place at a time, you will usually hear a detonation knock. The air and fuel mixture’s parts may begin to ignite too early and when they collide, they can produce a tapping or knocking noise.


This tapping sound can be heard when your car has a performance-tuned engine rated for high octane fuels and you put in fuel that has too low an octane rating. This sound can occur since high octane fuels burn more uniformly and can prevent knocks. It is for this reason why you need to consult your owner’s manual and see what octane rating your car needs. If your car needs premium fuel, you need to make sure that it is what you are putting in your car.



If you ask, is it worth fixing engine tapping, the answer can vary depending on what caused the problem? You will have to have your car checked by a mechanic to assess it, determine the problem that caused it, as well as determine its overall condition and value. If the repaired value of your car is worth much or more than the cost of the needed repairs, then it is probably worth fixing. But if it is not, you still need to consider if your car will need another repair in the future. If you think that your car may experience some other problem soon, then it is better to sell your car as is before things get worse and its value continues to decrease. If you decide to sell it, Cash Cars Buyer gives instant cash offers to cars regardless of their condition.

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