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What Causes Engine Clicking and How Do You Get Rid of It?

What Causes Engine Clicking and How Do You Get Rid of It?

A healthy engine should sound like a jet. You should hear a constant and regular sound that can be pleasing to the car owners’ ears. When you are revving, the sound will grow louder but the constant sound will remain. If you hear a ticking or clicking sound from your engine, it can mean that there is an issue that needs to be addressed. It might be caused by a minor problem or a serious one. You may ask, what causes engine clicking?  It can be caused by low oil pressure or oil level, sticking engine part, bad bearing, ignition issues, loose parts, bad engine fan, exhaust leak, faulty spark plugs or wire, and normal wear and tear of components.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


These problems are usually what causes engine clicking. To get rid of the clicking sound coming from your engine, you will have to determine what exactly is causing it and have it repaired immediately. Although clicking noises are usually common, you still have to have it checked and corrected since they can be caused by something serious. In this article, we’ll get through each of what causes engine clicking and how you can get rid of it.



What Causes Engine Clicking? –  How Do You Get Rid of Engine Ticking?



When you find out that your engine makes a clicking or ticking sound, it can be alarming. You shouldn’t be hearing unusual sounds from your engine. You just want to hear your engine make that satisfying purr sound. But, as mentioned earlier, engine clicking is quite common. It is either caused by a minor problem or by a very serious one and in some cases, the engine clicking can be completely normal.


If you notice this problem in your car, you might ask, what causes engine clicking? Engine clicking can be caused by these following issues.


  • Low oil pressure or oil level


Low oil pressure or oil level may be what causes engine clicking. If the system has an insufficient amount of oil or oil pressure, it can result in the engine’s top end to suffer since gravity will keep any oil there further down in the engine. When this happens, the oil won’t get to the top of the engine and you will start to hear engine clicking or ticking sounds since the components there are not being lubricated enough.


The engine clicking sound you are hearing might be coming from the components of the engine valve train such as rockers, lifters, camshafts, and cam adjusters. Low oil pressure can also lead to your timing chain to produce clicking or ticking sounds. If the engine clicking is caused by low oil pressure or level, you need to correct it immediately since it can lead to engine overheating.


How to get rid of it.


To correct this problem, you can start by checking your car’s oil level. Make sure that your car is on a level ground when checking its oil. Then locate the oil dipstick, pull it out, wipe off any oil, put it back in, and pull it out again. You should be able to see your oil level on the dipstick. A healthy level should be close but not above the full mark. If the oil level is low, top it up.


Aside from topping the oil up, you need to determine why your oil level is low. Check for any leaks under the car or under the hood. Look for any dripping oil or tiny spots of oil. If you notice small drops of oil on your driveway, you need to have it checked immediately since it can mean that there is a much larger leak somewhere. A large amount of oil might’ve seeped while you are driving or accelerating.


If your car’s oil level is ok, you can then check your oil pressure. To do this, you will have to make use of your oil pressure gauge in the instrument cluster of your dashboard. Just ensure that it reads at least 15-20 psi when the engine is idling and warmed up. For cars with an oil pressure gauge without numbers, you need to make sure that it stays green. If its needle is in the red, check the oil level right away.


  • Sticking engine part


Engine parts that are sticking or worn are often caused when these components have been starved of oil. When this happens, it is what causes engine clicking. The noise may occur when there is excessive play between the connecting rod and the crankshaft. This results in a metal to metal contact which will produce a clicking sound. This rhythmic knock usually grows louder when the engine speeds up. This problem won’t change the engine’s temperature but its RPM will change.


How to get rid of it.


If this problem happens to your car, there’s really no solution for this but to have your entire engine rebuilt or replaced. This is something you have to think through since replacing an engine is very expensive, it might cost more than the market value of your car. You might want to have a talk with your mechanic whether you’ll have your engine replaced or buy a new car.


  • Bad bearing or accessories


There are some instances where a bad bearing or other accessory is what causes engine clicking. Bearings also tend to deteriorate over time which can cause wiggling or spacing that produces the clicking sound. The sound you’ll hear can vary depending on how damaged the component is.


How to get rid of it.


You need to determine what causes engine clicking. To do this, you can start your engine and listen closely for the source of the clicking noise by using an automotive stethoscope. Bear in mind that when you are using this tool, be extra cautious. You need to keep it as well as any piece of your clothing, jewelry, or hair away from any of the car’s moving parts.


If you hear the noise and it seems to be coming up front, do not test it using the automotive stethoscope. You just have to try removing the belt and run the engine for about 30 seconds to a minute to determine if the clicking sound has stopped. Then turn off the engine, allow it to cool down, and inspect each of the components.


  • Faulty spark plugs


If it has been a long time since you last changed your spark plugs, then a faulty spark plug might be what causes engine clicking. If your car is not that old or still not due for a spark plug replacement, the clicking sound can also happen when the spark plug is not seated the right way which can result in a bypass of exhaust gasses, causing engine click. This problem usually happens when you perform a do-it-yourself tune up.


How to get rid of it.


To correct this problem, you will have to visually inspect your spark plugs. Make sure that your engine has cooled down and is off when you do this. Remove the spark plug wire and wiggle the plug. You will know if it is loose when it moves. When it’s loose, remove it by pulling it out and inspect its thread. If there is no damage, reinstall it and make sure that the spark plug is torqued correctly. Make sure you’ll follow the recommendation of the manufacturer when tightening it.


If you see any signs of damage or cracks, replace it immediately. If you notice that it has stripped the cylinder head’s threads upon inspection, you will have to remove the cylinder head to repair or replace it. Unlike replacing the spark plug, removing the cylinder head should be done by a mechanic.


  • Loose parts of engine fan


The engine is equipped with some type of fan. When this fan is damaged, it can lead to clicking or ticking noise. There are also some instances where there are some loose parts that may rattle around which can cause the noise.


How to get rid of it.


You can do a visual inspection of the engine fan’s blades and shroud. Check for any signs of damage. Check for any loose parts like the bolts or clips that put the shroud in place on the radiator.  Inspect closely over the heat and dust shields, brackets, metal lines or any other components that may vibrate and get in contact with other components.


  • Exhaust leak


Any leak in your exhaust system can result in a very loud engine. If there is a leak in the exhaust manifold, this can cause a clicking noise. A leaking exhaust manifold can be due to a blown head gasket, broken manifold bolts or studs, or a damaged manifold. If the clicking noise is accompanied with an exhaust smell, it means that you have a leak.


How to get rid of it.


To determine that your car really has an exhaust leak, you can rev your engine while in park. You need to get it to reach about 2,500 rpm. When doing this and the clicking noise is gone, it means that you most likely have an exhaust leak. If the noise stays, it could mean that the problem is the oil pressure.


To correct this problem, the repair that needs to be performed is laborious and can be very expensive. You need to talk with a mechanic to know how much the repair will cost. If the repair bill is more expensive than the market value of your car, then it is better to move on and sell your car as is.


  • Misadjusted valves


Misadjusted valves might be what causes engine clicking. This can happen since when the engine spins several times, these valves will open and close. There is also a rocker arm which has a task of opening and closing the valves. It is controlled by a camshaft that has a pushrod and it has to be at the precise distance from the valve.


It has to be that way since these valves move too fast and at a short distance and time. If the adjustments are not right or precise, it can lead to components moving around and this may produce the clicking sounds.


How to get rid of it.


Have it checked by a mechanic and have the valves adjusted.


  • Normal operating noise or due to normal wear


Engine clicking can happen and it is sometimes normal, depending on the design of your engine. It can also happen due to normal wear. When you own a car that uses fuel injectors, the clicking sound you may hear is normal. These injectors are known as portable electric valves and they open and close at a fast rate to enable the right amount of fuel into the internal combustion chamber. You may hear the clicking sound when these injectors open and close when idle.


Another clicking sound that is considered normal is the one that comes from the purge valve. It is because this valve is responsible for releasing fumes stored in the intake system of the engine where they will be burned. It can happen that when they perform their task, they will give off a clicking sound.


Fuel pumps may also give off a clicking sound as it is starting. This usually happens with the electric fuel pumps. An old PCV valve might cause a clicking sound when it is worn or damaged. To prevent this from happening, you will have to replace your old PCV valve with a new one.


Cold starting an engine can also result in a clicking sound. The sound might be from the piston, cylinder wall clearance, or valves. However, when you keep driving and the engine has fully warmed up, the sound will slowly disappear.



What causes engine clicking? It can be caused by a lot of issues ranging from minor to major ones. If your car is experiencing engine clicking issues, you need to have it repaired immediately to prevent any further damage. However, for an engine clicking caused by a serious problem, you will have to decide whether you will repair your car and deal with expensive repair bills or sell your car as is.