Ticking Noise When Accelerating: A Guide To Dealing With This

by Conner Mckay

Any car enthusiast will attest to you that the joy and the pride in driving is the roaring noise produced by a running engine. But this joy and pride won’t be the case always. A running engine will produce different kinds of noise depending on its condition and how well it is serviced. One of such noises is the ticking noise when accelerating which forms the core of this writing.

A car’s engine comprises many moving parts. These many moving parts are bound to produce all kinds of sounds ranging from usual to unusual. The sounds will be distinctive depending on the condition of your engine. The sounds can only be felt when the engine is running.

Many a time these kinds of noises can be very difficult to notice. In some instances, the noises may seem very unusual such as the ticking noise. A ticking sound emanating from the engine bay when the engine is running should not be taken as normal.

Therefore, this type of noise should not be ignored at any time it is identified. Arrangements to have this fixed should be made immediately after the sound is heard. This is regardless of whether it happens when the engine is idle or accelerating at high speed.

Problems associated with the engine are issues car owners would not wish to be mentioned any time they take a car for service. This is because problems associated with engine repair are often very expensive fixes. But this is not the case always.

When an engine-related problem emerges and is ignored for a long time, this is what breeds a major problem. This is why matters concerning the engine need immediate fixing before the problem can escalate further.

Contents of this article entail;

Ticking Noise When Accelerating

Any kind of noise that emanates from the engine is always a cause for concern. This, therefore, means it should not be ignored or taken lightly. A ticking noise should not be an exception. It can sometimes be very difficult to identify a ticking noise when you are accelerating the car.

You have to leave the engine on idle to be able to distinguish an unfamiliar ticking noise from the familiar engine noise from moving parts.

Ticking noises can also be produced beneath the hood of your vehicle. These are considered normal and should not cause any alarm. The following are the several parts that produce ticking noise that require no intervention;

1. Purge Valve

The main function of a purge valve is to release gasses stored in the charcoal canister into the intake of the engine, where they are burnt. When the purge valve carries out this function, a ticking noise is produced.

2. PCV Valve

When the PCV valve starts to wear out, it will produce a ticking noise from time to time. However, this should not be anything to worry much about. This is because a PCV valve can easily be replaced in case the noise becomes unpleasant.

3. Fuel Injectors

Fuel injectors are actuated using an electronically instigated method. A ticking noise can also be heard from the engine’s fuel injectors when these vehicle components are functional. The main role of fuel injectors is to inject the required amount of fuel into the engine to facilitate combustion.

Why Is My Car Ticking

Engine-related ticking noises can be traced from numerous possible causes which can vary on how severe they are. While some ticking noises can be easily identifiable, others are very difficult to notice.

A strange ticking noise from your engine is a sign that your engine is struggling to provide enough power to move the car. The following are some possible causes of the ticking noise in the engine;

Ticking Noise When Accelerating, Causes #1: Low Engine Oil Levels

An engine without enough oil will always develop mechanical problems which are caused by overheating and excessive wear and tear. Low oil levels can also contribute to the development of ticking sounds.

This will be because of inadequate lubrication that occurs when there is not enough oil in your engine to help it run smoothly. When there is not enough oil, the metal components in the engine are forced to aggressively rub against each other therefore producing a ticking sound.

When there are low oil levels, the little that remains will not be sufficient to lubricate the upper section of the engine. This can create a ticking or shrill tapping sound when the engine is running. In most cases, valve train components and the timing chain are the main components causing the ticking noise.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating, Causes #2: Rod Knock

The engine’s rod consists of bearings attached to it. When the bearings wear out, the rod knocks around causing the tickling sound. When the bearings are worn out they make the rod move. As it shifts around, a ticking sound is produced. The rod knock will not cause the engine to overheat but it will cause the engine’s RPM to change significantly.

If the root cause of a ticking noise is the knock, the only solution that will help stop the ticking noise will be to have the entire motor replaced. Although purchasing a motor might be very expensive, a replacement is inevitable mainly because any other fix will just be temporary.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating, Causes #3: Leaking Exhaust Manifold

When the exhaust manifold starts to leak, this can also cause the engine to produce a ticking noise during acceleration and idling. A leak in the exhaust manifold causes the exhaust gasses to leak from the manifold when under high pressure. When the exhaust gasses try to escape, they will produce a ticking sound.

A leak in the exhaust manifold may not appear to be something of serious concern. This is because you can still drive even with the leak in place. The only disadvantage is that the noise can be super annoying. However, as a rule of the thumb, any malfunction in the vehicle should not be ignored. Doing so may breed more serious problems in the long run. A leaking exhaust manifold is not an exception. You will still need to have it fixed because excess leakage may not go down well with your engine.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating, Causes #4: Loose Or Faulty Spark Plugs

Spark plugs are very crucial in helping to absorb the explosions produced when the engine runs. When the spark plugs are loose or when they crack, a ticking sound is likely to be produced when driving the car.

If you have a loose or cracked spark plug, or when the torque is not correct. The spark plug will not be able to provide a spark when starting the car. It will also produce weird sounds when driving.

The best remedy to a cracked spark plug is to replace it. Remember also that, a bad spark plug can also strip the cylinder head thread. This may also compel you to replace the cylinder head threads as well.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating, Causes #5: Out Off Adjustment Valves

When the valve train is not adjusted correctly, this can also cause a ticking sound. Commonly, the major root cause of a ticking noise in your car will be a loose valve train. Therefore, in case of any ticking noise in your car, the valve train should always be the first place to begin your check.

The valves have to move fast for a short distance. If their adjustment is not strong enough, they can make wrong movements. It is these wrong movements that eventually manifest a ticking sound when accelerating at high speed.

Remember that a valve train consists of several components that work together as a unit. If any of these components are worn out, you will have a ticking sound mainly because the distance the valves will move will not be precise.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating, Causes #6: Damaged Engine Accessories

The front of the engine comprises several accessories that move when the engine is running. These engine accessories can also cause a ticking sound. They include the belt tensioners, pulleys, AC compressor, and water pump.

If any of the engine accessories are damaged, one of the most common symptoms they usually exhibit is a ticking sound. This weird noise will be produced when you are driving. A mechanic’s stethoscope can be a very important tool to help you decipher which component among these is having a problem.

However, even with this important tool, you will still need the required skills and knowledge to identify the exact cause of the ticking noise from this section. Therefore, it would be better to have a mechanic fix your car if you have identified that the engine accessory is the main root of the ticking noise when accelerating.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating, Causes #7: Normal Wear

Normal wear and tear are also one of the most common causes of a ticking noise when driving. This is an obvious situation because when the different engine components wear out, they may not run as smoothly as they used to run when they were still new with high efficiency. This means they will start producing weird noises one of which is the ticking noise.

One such component that will produce weird sounds upon wearing out is the fuel injector. Fuel injectors comprise tiny nozzles that tend to make noticeable tapping or ticking sounds when they wear out and start clogging.

Some fuel injectors in some models of cars often produce ticking sounds when they are injecting fuel into the engine. Therefore, in this situation, the ticking noise should not be a problem. You just need to identify the type of fuel injectors you have in your car and the type of noise they produce when injecting fuel.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating, Causes #8: Damaged Engine Fan

Tapping or ticking noise from the engine can also be a result of a loose or damaged engine fan. When the fan is damaged or when it is loose, it does not remain in its place. As the vehicle accelerates, the fan keeps on tapping on the surrounding engine components, therefore, causing the ticking noise.

When this happens, make sure you take your car for inspection by a qualified mechanic it will help you know if you have a problem with your engine fans. If the fans do not exhibit any form of cracks on it, you can also check the clips and the bolts as they can also be loosened by the cause of the same problem.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating, Causes #9: Clogged Oil Passages

Oil passages can become clogged over time due to the accumulation of sludge or carbon deposits. When the oil passages are clogged, oil cannot flow freely to lubricate the engine components. This inadequate lubrication can cause a ticking noise when accelerating or during engine idle. Regularly changing your engine oil and using high-quality oil can help prevent the clogging of oil passages.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating, Causes #10: Worn-Out Timing Belt or Chain

The timing belt or chain plays a critical role in synchronizing the engine’s camshaft and crankshaft. Over time, the timing belt or chain can wear out and become loose, causing it to slap against the side of the timing chain cover or other engine components. This slap can manifest as a ticking noise, especially when accelerating. Replacing the worn-out timing belt or chain can resolve the ticking noise and prevent further engine damage.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating, Causes #11: Faulty Fuel Injectors

While fuel injectors can sometimes make a ticking noise during normal operation, a louder and more pronounced ticking noise can indicate a problem. Dirt, debris, or a malfunction can cause a fuel injector to stick open or close, resulting in a ticking noise and poor engine performance. Cleaning or replacing the faulty fuel injectors can help eliminate the ticking noise and improve engine performance.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating, Causes #12: Loose Belts or Pulleys

Loose belts or pulleys can create a ticking noise that increases with engine speed. The belts and pulleys are connected to various engine accessories, such as the alternator, power steering pump, and water pump. If any of these components become loose or damaged, it can cause a ticking noise. Tightening or replacing the loose or damaged belts and pulleys can resolve the issue.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating, Causes #13: Damaged or Bent Valves

The valves in the engine open and close to allow air and fuel into the combustion chamber and exhaust gases out. If a valve becomes damaged or bent, it may not seat properly, causing a ticking noise when the engine is running. A damaged or bent valve can lead to poor engine performance and should be addressed immediately to avoid further damage.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating, Causes #14: Failing Camshaft

The camshaft controls the opening and closing of the engine valves. A worn or damaged camshaft can cause a ticking noise, as the camshaft lobes may not lift the valves correctly. This can lead to poor engine performance and potentially serious engine damage. A worn camshaft should be replaced as soon as possible.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating, Causes #15: Worn Piston Rings

The piston rings create a seal between the pistons and the cylinder walls. When the piston rings wear out, they may not seal properly, allowing combustion gases to leak past and create a ticking noise. Worn piston rings can also lead to increased oil consumption and poor engine performance. Replacing the worn piston rings can help eliminate the ticking noise and improve engine performance.

It’s important to address any unusual noises coming from your vehicle as soon as possible. A ticking noise when accelerating can be a sign of various issues, ranging from minor to severe. It could be due to low engine oil levels, a rod knock, a leaking exhaust manifold, loose or faulty spark plugs, out-of-adjustment valves, damaged engine accessories, normal wear and tear, a damaged engine fan, clogged oil passages, a worn-out timing belt or chain, faulty fuel injectors, loose belts or pulleys, damaged or bent valves, a failing camshaft, or worn piston rings.

To diagnose and fix the issue, it’s recommended to consult a qualified mechanic who can accurately identify the cause of the ticking noise and perform the necessary repairs. Regular maintenance, such as changing the oil, replacing worn-out components, and keeping the engine clean, can help prevent ticking noises and other common engine problems.

How To Fix Ticking Noise In Engine

Having now known the possible reasons that can lead to the emergence of ticking noise when accelerating. The next step of action is to know how to deal with such a problem when it arises.

Fixing the ticking noise when accelerating is not that complex. You only need to fix the underlying problem and the noise would disappear. This can be done in four different steps which include;

STEP 1: Maintain A Regular Timely Service To Your Car

Regular and timely car maintenance is always the best remedy for tackling car mechanical issues before they can become more severe. Sometimes it is all you need to help fix smaller chunks of car issues such as the ticking noise when accelerating.

The ticking noise will sometimes be caused by low oil levels. Therefore, a simple service like adding more oil to the engine can simply fix the problem.

Additionally, during routine maintenance check-ups, other issues such as loose clips and bolts on the engine fan, loose spark plugs that cause the ticking noise can be fixed by just using a simple method of tightening the bolts.

Other problems that may be a bit complex can also be identified and fixed before they can get severe and lead to more costly damages. It is not a good decision to ignore taking the car for routine service just because the car has not exhibited any malfunction symptoms.

STEP 2: Decipher The Main Root Of The Problem

If servicing the car does not offer any amicable solution to the condition of your car, then you will need to give your car a thorough inspection by a professional car mechanic. This thorough inspection should mainly concentrate on the engine area to help fix the problem.

A thorough engine inspection should focus on components that contribute to the general functionality of the engine such as the spark plug to determine if they are worn out or damaged. The inspection can also point to the valve train that is commonly known to be the number one source of ticking noise when they have issues.

A thorough and complete engine inspection should allow you to identify the underlying issues that need to be fixed. Sometimes these issues may require scanning of the vehicle’s computer to extract any OBD 2 fault codes that may have been stored by the computer. These fault codes can help to diagnose all the problems that may have led to the codes being stored in your onboard computer.

STEP 3: Repair Or Replace The Faulty Parts

After the faulty parts or components have been identified using the OBD 2 scanner, the step that follows will be to have them fixed or replaced. Whether fixing the part will involve replacing, repairing, or cleaning, this will greatly depend on the vehicle’s mechanical part that is to be fixed. The type of service will also depend on the extent of the problem at hand.

However, to ensure you are on the safe side, it is always advisable to replace any parts that may be the root cause of the ticking noise when accelerating. Sometimes repairs alone don’t offer a permanent solution as the problem may keep coming back again and again after a short while.

Quite often car owners get worried when any mechanical problems emanate from the engine and will do all they can to make the service as cheap as possible by avoiding replacing the worn-out parts but would rather opt for a repair.

Yes, it is known that engine problems can be very expensive to fix but you would rather incur an expensive expense once and have the problem fixed permanently than opt for a shortcut that would end up being expensive in the long run.

STEP 4: Perform A Test Drive To Confirm If The Issue Is Resolved

This would be the final step to take to help confirm if the problem has been fixed. You cannot just be certain that the root issue has been repaired by just replacing and repairing the problematic parts. You will have to take the car for a test drive.

The ticking noise is always more pronounced when you are driving from moderate to high speed. Therefore, you have to take your car to a place far from the neighborhood or far away from a busy street where you can test all these speeds.

During the test drive, keep a clean ear since the noise can sometimes subside but not go away completely. This is why trying all the speeds is necessary.

If in any case the noise is still there or maybe you are not skilled enough to pinpoint the root source of the problem, the only alternative that is left is to have your car inspected by a qualified mechanic. They have the skills and the tools necessary to diagnose the root cause of the problem with ease.

Why Ticking Noise After Oil Change

Sometimes you may find that the engine of your car starts making a ticking noise immediately after an oil change. This may end up worrying you much for no good reason especially when it starts just after an oil change.

The engine’s health is dictated by its ability to circulate a clean and proper volume of oil. Oil should always be changed at designated service intervals and if this is not done and the oil was left to drop below the designated operating capacity, several issues can quickly arise and compound the problem.

If the oil has recently been changed but your car keeps on producing the ticking noise, it is imperative to conduct several tests both visual and non-visual on your car. The following steps can quickly help in conducting and completing your inspection.

1. Check Oil Levels

The first thing to do is to check the oil level. There can be a possibility it was not filled to its full operating level when it was changed. If you find out that the level is indeed low, add more oil until the recommended capacity is reached.

2. Check For Leaks

You can visually inspect the oil filters and the oil drain plug for possible signs of escaping oil. A piece of cardboard can be placed under the car’s running engine and left to sit there for some time. The cardboard can later be removed and inspected for possible oil leakage signs.

3. Check For Drain Plug And Oil Filter Tightness

Any oil leakage should help you check the drain plug and the oil filters to confirm if they are loose. It is possible that either of these two could have been tightened well during the oil change and may serve as the source of the ticking noise induced by a leak.

Note that there are several notable causes of engine-related ticking noise just after an oil change. By addressing an issue of this magnitude promptly can help in mitigating the occurrence of more serious and permanent engine component damage.

Here are some of the possible causes of a ticking noise just after an oil change:

Ticking Noise vs Knocking Noise

It can sometimes be difficult to decipher the difference between a ticking noise and a knocking noise. Ticking noise is always higher in pitch and closer in context to rattling sounds of some sort.

On the other hand, an engine knock sounds more like a repeated hammering and is often much louder compared to a ticking sound.

A knocking sound is also far more serious than a ticking sound. This usually signifies severe engine issues rather than the ticking sound. The knock normally emanates from the engine’s rotating components. Engine knocks are caused by:

Engine Ticking Noise Facts:

  • Hearing a loud engine-ticking noise while driving can be stressful.
  • This article covers 6 potential reasons for the ticking noise and how to fix them.
  • Low oil pressure or level, misaligned valves, misadjusted lifters, faulty spark plugs, rod knock, and exhaust leaks are some culprits behind the ticking noise.
  • Fixing the ticking sound depends on its cause, such as changing or topping up engine oil, using oil additives to clean engine parts, changing damaged spark plugs, realigning the lifter, or replacing engine pushrods.
  • Repair costs of a ticking engine depend on locality, diagnosis, and labor charges, and common estimates are oil change: $50-150, spark plug: $115-200, pushrods: $600-1000, bearings: $900-1500 (depending on the car engine type), etc.
  • Certain engine components may emit an engine tick normally, like fuel injectors, purge valves, or cold starting engines.
  • Regular engine maintenance, like checking engine oil levels, using the right engine oil, and replacing damaged parts promptly, can reduce the risk of engine ticking noise.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating: In Conclusion…

The ticking noise that emanates from the engine can easily be ignored if it does not have any effect on the general performance of the vehicle in any way. As we had stated earlier some of the vehicle components listed earlier can produce ticking noise in their normal operation.

But this does not mean you overlook any ticking noise that you may find unusual. Fixing any unusual ticking noises, especially those from the engine helps your car to run smoothly.

The annoying ticking noise will emanate from underlying issues such as worn-out spark plugs, rod knocking, issues with the valve train, and even low oil levels in the engine.

Most of these issues are not that complex or even expensive to fix. They are very simple and easy to fix engine problems therefore there should be no excuse to keep driving your car on a ticking noise. In most cases, vehicle maintenance will go a long way in preventing the issue.

This is why following a strict vehicle maintenance practice is necessary even when the car has not started exhibiting any mechanical problems. Prevention is always the best approach rather than waiting to cure.

Ticking Noise When Accelerating: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are some popular frequently asked questions (and their answers) about the ticking noise when accelerating…

What Causes Engine Knock

Engine knock is typically caused by the fuel in the cylinders detonating in more than one place at a time. Other common causes include using fuel with an octane rating that is too low, carbon build-up on the cylinder walls, or incorrect ignition timing. The detonations create extra heat and pressure in the cylinder, which produces a knocking or pinging sound.

Why Is My Car Making a Clicking Noise

There can be several reasons why your car is making a clicking noise. It could be due to a low oil level, which can cause the valve lifter to make a clicking sound. Other possible causes are a loose belt, a failing CV joint, or a rock stuck in between the tire treads.

What Makes a Car Loud

A car can become loud for various reasons. A common cause is a malfunctioning exhaust system. A hole in the muffler, exhaust pipe, or a loose exhaust manifold can all lead to increased noise. Other causes can include a failing fan belt, an engine knock, or a problem with the air intake system.

What Causes Lifter Tick

Lifter tick is caused by the hydraulic valve lifter (or lifter) not being able to maintain its prime. When this happens, the lifter is unable to properly lubricate the valve train, leading to a ticking noise. This can be due to a low oil level, using oil with the wrong viscosity, or a lifter that is worn out or damaged.

Why Does My Car Make a Noise When I Start It

There are several reasons why your car might make a noise when you start it. A common reason is that the oil has settled and it takes a moment for the oil pump to distribute the oil throughout the engine. Other reasons can include a weak battery, a failing starter motor, or a problem with the serpentine belt.

Why Is My Car Making a Flapping Noise When I Accelerate

A flapping noise when you accelerate can be due to a few different issues. It might be something simple like a loose belt or a piece of plastic that is caught and flapping against the vehicle as the wind speed increases. Other possibilities include a loose wheel well liner, a failing CV joint, or a problem with the exhaust system.

Is Lifter Tick Bad

While the lifter tick itself is not necessarily bad or harmful, it is often a sign that there is a problem with the lubrication of the valve train. If left untreated, it can lead to more serious issues such as a damaged camshaft or valve train components. It’s best to address the lifter tick as soon as possible.

Why Does My Car Click When I Turn

A clicking noise when turning is often due to a failing CV joint. The CV joint is part of the drive shaft and is responsible for transferring power from the engine to the wheels while allowing the vehicle to turn. When the CV joint starts to wear out, it can make a clicking or popping noise, especially when turning.

What Does a Knocking Engine Sound Like

A knocking engine sound is often described as a deep and rhythmic thud or knock that is heard while the engine is running. It can vary in intensity and may become louder under acceleration or load. It is different from a ticking or clicking noise, which is usually higher pitched and less rhythmic.

Can Lifter Tick Cause Damage

While the lifter tick itself may not cause damage, it is often a sign that there is a problem with the lubrication of the valve train. If left untreated, this can lead to wear and damage to the camshaft and other valve train components. It is important to address the lifter tick as soon as possible to prevent further damage.

Why Is My Engine So Loud All of a Sudden

A sudden increase in engine noise can be due to several reasons. It could be because of a problem with the exhaust system, such as a hole in the muffler or a loose exhaust manifold. Other possibilities include a failing serpentine belt, a problem with the air intake system, or an engine knock due to low-octane fuel or carbon build-up.

Can a Bad PCV Valve Cause Engine Knock

A bad PCV valve can cause a variety of issues, but it is not typically associated with engine knock. A faulty PCV valve can lead to a build-up of pressure in the crankcase, which can cause oil leaks, excessive oil consumption, and poor performance. However, engine knock is usually caused by other issues such as low octane fuel, incorrect ignition timing, or carbon build-up.

What Does a Blown Engine Sound Like

A blown engine can produce a variety of sounds depending on the nature of the damage. Common sounds include a loud bang or explosion, followed by a knocking or rattling sound. There may also be a hissing or whistling sound if there is a leak in the head gasket. In some cases, the engine may also make a grinding or screeching noise.

What Do Bad Spark Plugs Sound Like

Bad spark plugs can cause a variety of issues, including misfires, poor fuel economy, and poor performance. The sound associated with bad spark plugs is often a misfire, which can be described as a popping or stuttering sound. There may also be a ticking or tapping noise if the spark plug is loose or not properly seated.

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