View Full Version : engine ticking sound

08-30-2004, 12:32 PM
I noticed that my '92 5spd has a slight, but noticeable ticking sound coming from the drivers side (sometimes it's there, sometimes it's not) when the engine is warm. I did a search on "ticking" and it seems likely that i have a bad lifter with a loose rocker bolt somewhere in the motor. I understand that it could also be a leaking exhaust header.

The ticking sound is not there all the time- it comes and goes, only when the engine is warm, regardless of what accessories are on (AC, etc..).

I may have asked this before (i don't remember), but here are my questions;

1. How easy is it to change the lifters? Can they be done in a day?

2. Can anyone post instructions step by step how to do this?

3. How can you tell the difference between if the problem is a lifter or a leaking exhaust manifold?

sounds like light metal tapping, not very loud, but just enough to be noticeable- i can hear it real good when idling beside a wall on the driver's side, and the tick noise does speed up when i rev the engine slightly.


David Neibert
08-30-2004, 01:33 PM
To determine if the ticking is coming from the rockers/lifters put a large screw driver against the rocker cover and place your ear against the handle. You will be able to hear it much louder if it's coming from a rocker.

I seriously doubt that you need to replace a lifter (requires removing the intake manifold) and more than likely it's just a rocker with a little wear on it causing slack between it and the pushrod.

As the engine warms up the oil gets thinner and would make sense that the noise is only present after warmup. If the noise was from an exhaust leak you would hear it all the time.


08-30-2004, 02:06 PM
First off, check all your exhaust manifold bolts. How does the car perform? Rough idle or misfire? Does the noise volume increase with rpm?

08-30-2004, 02:16 PM
If it were an exhaust leak chances are it would decrease as the engine gets warmer. I would put in some detergent and clean all old oil andgunkout..Then drain it and add a heavier oil sometimes that can make a lifter stick. I had that problem and it got loud as the engine warmed up. just my .02


08-30-2004, 02:22 PM
the car is VERY strong, and it idles nearly perfect (after a little custom tuning), overall there are no other warning signs that the engine is about to crap on me. i just now got in from the parking lot (at work) and tried the screwdriver method- did not hear anything on either valve covers. But what i did hear was a faint ticking noise when i placed my ear near the driver's side wheel well. it sounded as if it was coming from something that's at the exhaust manifold level. did not see any evidence of exhaust leakage (no black soot marks anywhere). i let it idle for a good 20 minutes and it seems to come and go. at first i thought it was the injectors, though they make a similar clicking sound, it was off beat from the ticking sound. i also checked for idler pulley noises- mine are relatively noiseless. i'm sure that it's something inside the motor, but again the ticking doesn't seem to be very loud at all (the engine doesn't sound quite like a ~~~)- just loud enough to be noticed or singled out. and it's definitely not a rod knock or spun bearing sound. btw, my other SC engine did not have any ticking sounds, and has 193k miles on it- so i'm thinking that maybe somethings loose in the valvetrain. like i said the noise comes and goes- it's not consistent.

Should i take the valve covers off and tighten all the fulcrum bolts?

08-30-2004, 05:33 PM
I've had a similar problem in the past and it was a spark plug wire arcing, causing a ticking sound. I found it at night in my dark garage with the engine running, it was easy to spot. It didn't really effect the idle that much when it was arcing.

08-30-2004, 07:24 PM
I had the weld break on the oil dipstick brace and it swisted down. This caused the end of the dipstick to hit the crank and caused a tapping noise. Its worth a check.

08-31-2004, 10:43 AM
thanks very much guys for the responses. at least the ticking isn't getting any louder YET. I will check the dipstick, and check for arcing at the plugs tonight to make sure.

08-31-2004, 12:22 PM
hey dude, about a couple of months ago mines did the same ticking noise on the passenger side, well after i replaced my valve cover gasket, i said hmm, it does have a ticking noise, let me check to see if the rockers are loose, and they werent, well about 2 weeks ago, the drivers side started to do it, im going to check the bolts on the manifolds to see if they are loose.

i dont really worry about it, cuz my engine runs strong.