Kimiko Kidd
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What’s Causing That Ticking Noise in My Engine?

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From grinding brakes to clunking wheels, paying attention to your car’s sounds can help you spot minor issues before they become costly problems. Monitoring your vehicle’s powertrain health is no different — here are some possible causes behind a strange ticking noise emanating from your car’s engine.

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Insufficient oil

If you hear a ticking noise from your car’s engine, the quickest, cheapest, and easiest first step you can take is to simply check the oil levels. Low oil can lead to more than annoying sounds — it can also result in major engine damage if left unaddressed — so be sure to top off the oil as soon as possible.

Valve problems

If you drive an older model or a vehicle with high mileage, valve issues can lead to ticking noises. Simply have the valves adjusted by a knowledgeable technician to eliminate the noise. Adjusting the valve can also lead to better responsiveness, improved power, and a smoother ride.

Rod knock

Under normal circumstances, connecting rods link the pistons to the crankshaft, channeling the power from combustion to the rest of the drivetrain. This system includes soft metal bearings that can wear out over time — and when these bearings have suffered enough wear and tear, they can begin to rattle.

Rod knock is critical issue that calls for major repairs. This isn’t an issue to DIY, so bring your car to a professional if you think this may be causing your car’s engine to make clicking noises.

Fan issues

Your car’s engine fan is crucial for maintaining proper temperatures. In addition to the engine overheating, a ticking noise is a clue that the engine fan is malfunctioning. Damage or obstruction to the fan will cause it to rattle and fall out of sync with the engine’s RPMs.

Check out our other coverage for more information on car noises you shouldn’t ignore.