2003 Cadillac Escalade - Ticks

start car in the morning comes a ticking noise like lifters for about 2 minutes and then quiets down

In the absence of any info on the number of miles on this Escalade, a lifter tick sounds about right.

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You can try synthetic oil and changing it at 3-5k miles or less a few times. It might clean out some sludge and free the lifter a bit, or it may not do anything. Seafoam in the crankcase can free stuck lifters too, but only temporarily in my experience. I’d try synthetic and short oil changes. Can’t hurt.

Not too uncommon to have a little lifter tick on an LS motor if it’s got high mileage and probably is not a huge concern.

Also, check your exhaust manifold bolts. They are prone to breaking. The tic might be an exhaust leak.


I had a failing serpentine belt tensioner that had the same symptoms.

Synthetic oils have the same amount of detergents as regular oils.

So, there’s no advantage in switching over to a synthetic oil with shorter oil change intervals.

I would try Seafoam in the oil to see if that helps with the noise.

If not, then what may be required is remove the valve covers and see if adjusting the rocker arms removes the tick(s).


Which engine, 5.3 or 6.0? On the 5.3, could be a problematic o-ring (for oil pump) causing oil cavitation. Refer to bulletin 02-06-01-038. If not that, other common tick sound causes

  • worn camshaft
  • problematic valve spring
  • cam roller problem
  • valve sticking or not sealing properly
  • lifter problem, esp if engine equipped w/active fuel management system

Suggest to make sure the spark plugs are seated properly too.

4.8, 5.3, and 6.0 of 2003 were basically the same engine with only bore and stroke differences. I don’t think any had AFM in 2003. I know the trucks didn’t.