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Old 12-18-2005, 05:58 PM
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Default lifter ticking - possible solutions?

my car has lifter tick (or so i assume). i found this solution online and was wondering if it would work. what do you think? i don't want to damage my car or anything...

We have all experienced the famous (or infamous) lifter tick on our cars, some more than others, some were solved, some got worse. This will be the quick and dirty handy pocket reference guide for those of you experiencing this problem.
First let's describe what the problem is. When you start you car, (for some people it is when the car is cold or the first start after it sat for a spell), there is a noticeable "ticking" sound from under the hood. I noticed this on my 1995 VR-4 at about 70k miles. Upon opening the hood your ear pinpoints the noise as coming from under the valve covers. If you were to open the oil cap while the car is running (not recommended since oil will splash out) you will see the lifters, rockers, springs, etc. and will notice that the ticking gets louder since this is the source of the problem.

Next we will see what basic symptoms cause this ticking sound. For most people it is an oil that is too light in weight, air bubbles that have gotten trapped somewhere and are not compressing well, or perhaps it actually is loose lifters, springs, etc.

Now let's quickly go over some simple solutions to these problems. Mine was the simplest of all. I checked the oil level and saw that it was low. I added a quart of oil, checked the level (not much over the Min line which meant I was WAY low on oil), and then started the car. The ticking sound was still present. I added another quart of oil. Now the oil level was close to the Full line. I started the car and presto no more ticking. Presto, my problem took exactly 4 minutes to solve.

For others it is much more involved, so I suggest you first try this simple procedure:

1) Start the car.
2) Rev to 3,000 rpm for about 20-30 seconds.
3) Let the car idle.
4) Listen for ticking sound.
5) If still ticking then rev to 6,000 rpm and hold for 15 seconds.
6) Lower the revs to 5,500 rpm and hold for 15 seconds.
7) Lower the revs to 5,000 rpm and hold for 15 seconds.
8) Lower the revs to 4500, 4000, 3500, 3000, 2500, 2000, 1500, and 1000 rpm and hold each level for 15 seconds.
9) Lift off and return to idle (750 rpm).

Note: This is more finicky than the "rev to over 3,000 rpm for a spell and release", but it makes sure that the engine goes through a good range of revs and returns slowly..., so as to not introduce any more air bubbles that you are trying to remove or something like that.

Ticking still present? Read on.

Time to change out the weight of oil. Buy some really lightweight oil. If really gung-ho then drain all the oil from the car (caution - it will be hot after running your car). If not, then just put the lightweight stuff in for this exercise instead of your normal stuff. Anyway, the idea is to get some really lightweight oil to get to all the little crevices and get out all the stuff you want out. Then after a few hundred miles drain out the lightweight stuff and put in a good synthetic oil (Valvoline, Mobil 1, RedLine, etc.) to the appropriate level and see how you do.

Remember that oil goes to the engine, the turbos, and the oil cooler. If there is ticking it might be from the oil picking up nasty stuff from those other areas and depositing them around the lifters but at THIS point you can email the list and ask for help since this page is supposed to answer all the "quick and easy" FAQs.

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Old 12-19-2005, 01:04 AM
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Well, to a point that is not all that bad advice. Before you zing the motor to 6000 rpm be sure it has warmed up a little bit. At least so you have oil flowing in all the right places.
If the ticking only shows up at start up, it might be something as simple as the wrong oil filter. Not all oil filters are created equal. If the anti-drain-back valve is either missing or not adequate, the oil will drain back into the pan. You then have to wait for it to flow back up to the head. Best just to use the OEM filter.
If the problem is dirt in the lifters, a very thin oil may not be the answer. Remember that a certain amount of film strength is required for proper lubrication. Too thin of an oil can cause metal to metal contact under load. A good slow working ester may be a good solution. It will clean out all the passages in the motor.
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Old 12-19-2005, 01:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hannaco
Well, to a point that is not all that bad advice. Before you zing the motor to 6000 rpm be sure it has warmed up a little bit. At least so you have oil flowing in all the right places.
If the ticking only shows up at start up, it might be something as simple as the wrong oil filter..
thanks for the advice! it ticks all the time...when it's warmed up, when it's cold. the tick is less after it's been warmed up though. i don't think i have the wrong oil filter as the last one i got was an OEM one from the VW dealership. i am assuming the oil is OK, too.

i'll let you know how this goes. honestly, i am scared to death to rev the car to 6000 rpms! ouch!
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Old 12-19-2005, 06:32 AM
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Here is my view on this: in reality, lifter ticking is an indication of inadequate lubrication. Try to pay attention to what happens to your lifter tick next time you get your oil changed. I suspect you will find that your motor doesn't tick as much, or at all. However, after you have driven with that oil in your car for a period of time (e.g. after you have allowed time for the oil to get overheated and for its viscocity to break down), you will find that the ticking returns. I think your engine is telling you that the oil in it needs to be replaced.

Here is my own solution to ticking:

1) Get an engine oil flush periodically - they can do this at a place like EZLube. They will flush your engine out and get all of the contaminants and sludge / oil out.

2) Have them change your oil

3) I put prolong engine treatment in my car after an oil change.

I know some people don't like the idea of engine treatments... but as I understand it, that's because many treatments use silicates, which just collect in your engine and create problems later on. Prolong essentially does nothing but increase oil viscosity - I find that putting it my engine pretty much elliminates lifter noise.
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Old 12-19-2005, 01:29 PM
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thanks for the advice ttupper. my engine ticks right after getting my oil changed. ticks all the time, really. currently, i AM running an engine treatment, but i worry about it working since my car only makes about 10-15 min. jaunts about the city.

here's the treatment i am currently running: http://www.auto-rx.com/
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Old 12-19-2005, 02:12 PM
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hmmm.

Well, i'm no expert. But it doesn't say anything about enhancing lubrication, just about cleaning. Have you ever tried a treatment like prolong?

I had them do an engine oil cleanser at EZ-Lube here in cali, then used fresh oil with prolong. That stopped my lifter tap tap tapping.

Tom
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Old 12-19-2005, 02:28 PM
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i'll be trying a few more things come spring. but, with the warmer weather, i'll be dealing with my engine ping, too.
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Old 12-19-2005, 02:34 PM
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hee hee - I have that too. Aren't NB's so charming?

I had hoped getting my pluhs replaced would stop the pinging, but all that did was ping my wallet

I *have* noticed that when I run higher octane fuel, especially if I add a fuel treatment, it pings less.

I wonder what causes it

Anyway, have an awesome day
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Old 12-19-2005, 02:39 PM
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i was recommended the highter octane fuel, too, and it did seem to help some. i will be trying various things when the weather gets nicer. my beetle has 90K miles, so i know it's not going to have a quiet engine (or should it?), but it's frustrating to not be able to find a solution to all of these problems.
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Old 12-22-2005, 11:13 AM
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Ah, yes, you are using Auto-rx. Good stuff to clean out all of the junk in the motor. Just remember to do the rinse phase with non-synthetic oil.
Once that is done, you will know if the ticking is due to dirt, or something else.
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Old 12-22-2005, 04:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hannaco
Ah, yes, you are using Auto-rx. Good stuff to clean out all of the junk in the motor. Just remember to do the rinse phase with non-synthetic oil.
Once that is done, you will know if the ticking is due to dirt, or something else.
i am about halfway through the treatment phase, but i wonder how well this will work since all my trips are 10 mins. or less and it's freezing here! i know about going the rinse phase (read up on the website). i'll be interested to see how it turns out. certainly can't hurt.
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Old 12-22-2005, 04:52 PM
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I'm not sure if I would take advice from some idiot who is driving around 2 quarts low on oil and wondering why his engine sounds funny.....

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Old 12-23-2005, 03:38 PM
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Porkchop,

Thanks for saying the obvious
Air bubbles that have been caught somewhere??? C'mon
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Old 12-23-2005, 03:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Porkchop
I'm not sure if I would take advice from some idiot who is driving around 2 quarts low on oil and wondering why his engine sounds funny.....

good point. well, i guess i won't be trying this solution...back to the drawing board.
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Old 12-24-2005, 05:37 AM
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Not to rain on anyone's parade, but lifter ticking CAN be caused by air. Lifters depend on lubrication to maintain proper allignment in the bore. When lubrication is not provided to lifters, a mixture of oil and air can be trapped in the lifter bore. Because air is compressible and oil is NOT, the lack of enough oil in the bore and the presence of air means that the air compresses allowing the lifter to contact the shaft and TICK. So, the aforementioned idiot (whoever they are) apparently knows more about lifters than we do.

Read the following article for an explanation:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...08/ai_n9453109

Like I said earlier, I would strongly suggest an engine treatment that increases the lubricating potential of the oil. I use prolong because it does not contain teflon or other particulates.

Last edited by ttupper; 12-24-2005 at 05:46 AM..
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Old 12-24-2005, 05:51 AM
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That does not mean, by the way, that I advocate red-lining your beetle. I think the solutionis to make sure your oil has the best lubricating properties possible. To me, operating your engine in the red is, um...... not really wise.
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Old 12-24-2005, 10:53 AM
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5) If still ticking then rev to 6,000 rpm and hold for 15 seconds.

Sorry. This is NOT good advice.
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Old 12-25-2005, 03:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by inoverdrive
5) If still ticking then rev to 6,000 rpm and hold for 15 seconds.

Sorry. This is NOT good advice.
i haven't done the revving thing. i wanted to see what people thought about it. i can't rev much past 4K rpm without cringing. i guess i need solutions to try. well, right now, i'm trying the auto rx.

the lifter tick is really annoying and it does it all the time. even my (stupid) mechanic couldn't offer any advice. guess i need a new mechanic, eh? it ticks from the moment i start it up and continues until i shut the car off. it ticks faster the faster i drive and is louder when it's colder.

i also noticed that even in 50 degree weather, it will ping, too. i just can't win.
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Old 12-25-2005, 03:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ttupper
Read the following article for an explanation:

http://www.findarticles.com/p/articl...08/ai_n9453109

Like I said earlier, I would strongly suggest an engine treatment that increases the lubricating potential of the oil. I use prolong because it does not contain teflon or other particulates.
thanks for the article. good read.
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Old 12-25-2005, 02:29 PM
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Hey Callisto9,

Merry Christmas!

Now I mentioned this before when you first started posting about your pinging and I will mention it again.

Check your plugs to make sure they are tight. This problem sounds even more like what I heard when 2 of my plugs loosened up. I could heard the ticking of the plug firing and it sounded very similar to a ticking lifter. It would change speed with engine speed of course, and it did not lessen when the engine warmed up.

Probably not that simple but it's any easy check and it's free! Another guy posted he had the same problem and his plug finally fell out. So you may check it.
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