Why Is My Car’s Engine Making a Ticking Noise?

Car engine problems come in many forms and have many different signs something is wrong. Most commonly, though, you’ll hear some sort of noise that indicates there’s an issue.

Occasionally, you may hear a ‘ticking’ sound. If you do, there’s some information that you’ll need to keep in mind.

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about why your car’s engine could be making a ticking noise.

An Oil-Related Problem

If your vehicle has a low oil level, a faulty oil pump, or low oil pressure, it’s not uncommon for you to hear a ticking noise while you’re driving. If your engine isn’t properly lubricated due to any of the above causes, a ticking noise will result from its parts coming into contact with each other as it functions.

As you may expect, this can lead to severe damage to your vehicle over time and is something that should be investigated immediately if you suspect this may be the cause. You also run the risk of putting the safety of both yourself and other drivers in jeopardy. 

An Exhaust Leak

Although it may not seem like a week could result in this type of sound, it’s actually a fairly common symptom. This is especially true when you rev your car’s engine.

A simple way to tell the difference between an exhaust leak and oil pressure is to put your car in park and press the gas pedal until you reach approximately 2500 RPM. If the sound tends to go away at this point, it’s more than likely an exhaust leak.

If the sound continues indefinitely, it’s often an oil-related issue. Both issues should only be repaired by an experienced professional to avoid any other complications fro arising in the future.

Spark Plug Issues

Since each cylinder of your engine is sealed with a spark plug, it’s not uncommon to hear a clicking noise if one becomes loosened or damaged. The same can be said for any type of wire that’s connected to your engine. 

In many cases, simply replacing the spark plug will be able to alleviate the issue. Sometimes, though, faulty spark plugs can result in damage to the engine’s hardware and often requires the attention from a professional in order to fix it. 

Engine Fan

As your engine fan rotates, it will likely produce a notable amount of noise. But, a ticking sound isn’t something that’s typical.

The most common culprit is a fan blade that’s loose or chipped. There could also be debris stuck in the fan, as well. 

Fortunately, this problem is relatively easy to diagnose and often involves taking a quick look under the hood car. Damage is often immediately evident, allowing you to move forward with a solution. 

Problems With Your Vehicle’s Ignition

Under normal circumstances, your engine’s cylinders will fire at specific intervals. If this timing is off, you may find that you hear a clicking sound while you operate your vehicle. This can become increasingly true at higher speeds.

Although this is often caused by carbon buildup, using poor quality fuel in your car may also result in this scenario. You can easily determine if this is the case by using higher-octane fuel the next time you fill up your car.

As you may expect, this is most common with cars that are specifically designed to take premium fuel. Using lower-quality fuel in these vehicles will easily result in long-term issues that could manifest as engine noises.

According to Steve Pinney from Fullthrottleautoservice.com, a ticking sound coming from your engine could be a sign that your timing belt is failing. This is a scenario that requires immediate attention.

Loose Parts

The cause of your ticking noise could be a loose part in general. Even a relatively small part located somewhere in between the hardware underneath your car’s hood could produce a similar noise as you drive.

The issue here, though, is that it’s not always immediately apparent that a part is loose— especially if you aren’t able to see it.

But, if you were recently involved in a collision of any sort and noticed the ticking noise afterward, it’s likely that something was knocked loose.

Typical parts that could be the source of the noise include brackets, heat shields, and anything else that could come into physical contact with another part of your car while you’re driving.

Fuel Injectors

Fortunately, a clicking noise that stems from a fuel injector likely doesn’t need to be repaired at all. Depending on your vehicle models, you may simply have a car that produces a clicking sound as its fuel injector functions.

For cars with direct injection, the sound is often even more apparent.

If you can narrow down the issue to a fuel injector, it’s nothing to worry about as long as you don’t notice any performance issues. Otherwise, you need to get your car diagnosed by a mechanic.


Identifying Your Car’s Ticking Noise Can Seem Difficult

But it doesn’t have to be.

With the above information about handling your car’s ticking noise in mind, you’ll be well on your way toward making the decision that’s best for you.

Want to learn more tips that can help you out in the future? Be sure to check out the rest of our blog.

Author: Brandon Park