Is Your Car’s Engine Ticking While Idling Top Reasons Behind the Noise and What To Do
Posted in: Engine & Drivetrain

Is Your Car’s Engine Ticking While Idling? Top Reasons Behind the Noise and What To Do

The car engine is bound to make some noise. It is not surprising in agreeing that cars encounter noises issues or mechanical issues. These issues may occur unexpectedly, or perhaps, due to human error. The engine makes noise as it comprises moving components & parts that collide again & again to run. Thus, while some noises coming from your car can be quite normal. But when the sudden onset of a strange ticking sound in engine while idling comes from your vehicle’s hood, then could be a cause of worry. This noise automatically begins to turn the impending engine failure & excessive expenditure.

If you’re experiencing problems, such as your car’s engine making a ticking or clicking sound, whether during acceleration or at an idle state. Here’s what you need to know about the possible causes. Also, we are going to share with you solutions to such common problems that occur in automobiles.

What is the Ticking or Clicking Sound in Cars?

engine ticking sound

A car’s engine often makes sounds since various components come in direct contact with each other to function. The ticking sound comes when your engine components require more oil or are damaged. The engine’s design is not identical to each other. Each engine’s component structure in a different way at a different position. While some components do their operations quietly, there may be others that may produce soft or high noise. When you hear a ticking or clicking noise coming from your car, it is a possible sign of a problem.

What Causes Ticking Noise in a Car’s Engine?

Although it is normal for a car’s engine to make certain sounds and noises when the ignition is turned on. But, not all sounds are menacing. Sometimes, knowing the type of sound that comes from your vehicle’s components should state the source of the problem. So, if you hear a ticking noise coming from your car, then it may likely be caused due to a couple of reasons.

Some common scenarios which could be the reason for your car’s engine to make that clicking or ticking sound include:

  • Loose Component(s)
  • Spark Plugs
  • Fuel Injector
  • Faulty Hydraulic Lifter
  • Engine Oil Level
  • Low Oil Pressure
  • Old Engine Oil
  • You Forgot that You Own a Car

Let’s get to know about these common causes a little more in detail.

  1. A Loose Component: It is true that even the smallest component can become a major cause of a problem, whether it’s your car or something else. Similarly, what most people fail to check properly is any loose component in their car that could also be causing ticking sounds.
  1. Spark Plugs: The use of spark plugs in your car is to seal off the cylinder heads. But, a loose or broken spark plug could also become a major cause of your car’s engine thus, letting out a ticking or clicking noise. If a spark plug that is connected to a spark plug wire suddenly becomes loose, it might strip the cylinder head threads, due to which the cylinder heads could become severely damaged.
spark plugs
  1. Fuel Injector: A fuel injector is a component that supplies (or injects) fuel right to your car’s internal combustion chambers. It works through a series of valves that operate by an open and close cycle. Some cars come pre-installed with fuel-injected engines. But there may also be individuals that choose to have fuel injectors installed on their car’s engine for improved performance. It is, so, quite normal for these fuel injectors to make certain sounds, including a high ticking sound at times. But, problems, such as a ticking noise, may also occur when one or more fuel injectors begin firing.
fuel injector
  1. Faulty Hydraulic Lifter: A hydraulic lifter (also called pusher) is a component which is usually installed between the valves and the camshaft of your car. Thus, these lifters function with the help of oil pressure and are mostly automated to self-adjust the valves, which is now becoming common in newer car models. However, if one of these lifters becomes bad/faulty, or even empty, it may cause your car’s engine to make a ticking noise. Another likely cause could be when there is air stuck in the hydraulic lifter.
faulty hydraulic lifter
  1. Engine Oil Level: As you may know, engine oil is needed for your car and some components to function properly. However, when the level of engine oil starts to decrease, chances are, your car may begin to indicate certain issues, also by making sounds. Even if you recently had your car serviced at a car servicing station, and had the engine oil level checked properly, then you may need to check for any leaks. Most common areas of its leakage are oil pan and seals (or gaskets). Engine oil leak is possible and could be causing the issue.
check oil level
  1. Low Oil Pressure: Low oil pressure is generally an indication that your car’s oil pump is starting to get bad. It may also be telling you that perhaps, a component in your car is causing low oil pressure and should be replaced as soon as possible.When there is low oil pressure, then low oil warning blinks in your dashboard, with the check engine light. Such warning could be accompanied by a ticking sound that can be heard quite easily when the engine is still running. If you ignore a low oil pressure warning, this may cause an impending danger to your car’s engine.
low oil pressure
  1. Old Engine Oil: If you don’t pay attention to your car’s engine oil frequently, problems could arise at any undesired times. In other words, it is important that you change your car’s engine oil from time to time, particularly when it’s become too long and old. It is often suggested that you change your car’s engine oil after having covered a set mileage, or at least once every year. It is also that most car manufacturers will contain some sort of advisory for their customers about getting their cars and the components serviced for better performance and longevity.
  1. Car Not Driven for a Long Time: Some people tend to forget that they also own a car, be it an inherited one, as well. There is no point in just keeping your car (even if it’s old) parked permanently in your garage or outside your home. Often, vehicles that are standing or sort of abandoned can certainly cause a lot of problems to occur when you turn on its ignition after a very long time.

How to Fix Ticking Noise Problems Occurring in Your Car’s Engine?

fixing engine ticking noise

Here are a few simple solutions to help you fix the ticking noise problems when it occurs in your car.

Change Engine Oil: As already said earlier, you must check the state of your car’s engine oil and change it upon getting old. However, keep in mind that you only use the engine oil type which is recommended by your car manufacturer. This is because having the right engine oil type does matter for the proper functioning of your vehicle. So, if you unknowingly use a different type or brand of engine oil that isn’t quite recommended, you may experience problems, like the ticking noise coming from your engine.

If however, you or your mechanic has changed the engine oil, despite that you’re still hearing the ticking noise, then it could be because of air that may have got stuck in the hydraulic lifter.

Fix Loose Parts or Replace Bad Components: Aside from occasionally checking and changing your car’s engine oil, you should also check for any loose or bad/faulty components and immediately replace them. These can include spark plugs, hydraulic lifters, metal bearings, pulleys, engine fans, water pumps, loose bolts, belt tensioners, AC compressors, and other accessories that are usually located in the front or around the engine. Even you can also replace the engines with used engines with a warranty or rebuild engines.

Drive Your Car Often: Last, but certainly not least, sometimes, not having driven your car for a very long time could also cause many problems occurring in its components. Many people simply ignore this, however, it is equally important as with the other suggestions stated above. Therefore, you should make it a habit to analyze the health of your car by taking your car for a ride now and then. Doing so can help determine whether your car is complaining of any faults, or if everything is just good.

If you’ve never had the experience to deal with problems occurring in your car, you can simply take your vehicle to a mechanic and get it fixed there quickly.


We hope that you’ve found some great help through this auto-mobile guide, and you can now easily be able to fix the ticking noise in your car’s engine.

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