Civic ticks when the engine is warm

I have a '03 Civic DX 5 speed. It has 128000 miles on it. I’ve notice now that it is getting colder, my engine ticks when it is warm - I can hear it at idle and low rpms, but not at higher rpms. It sounds perfect when it’s cold, but once it is warm, it has a “tic-a-tic-a-tic-a-tica…” sound.

Tom and Ray talked about a Dodge Dakota that made the same sound when the engine was cold (about 8 episodes ago). So what does it mean if it only does it when warm?



It probably means that you should pop open the owners manual to the maintenance section and find out whether or not you’re due for a valve lash adjustment. Actually, I suppose it just means that you should have the valve lash checked no matter what the manual says.

Worth investigating if any of the spark plugs hasn’t worked itself loose, and is about to get launched towards the hood at 200mph.
Open the hood and try to jiggle each spark plug wire. Any excessive movement should be cause for concern.

Sounds like you need a valve lash adjustment to me. This should cost less than $100 to have done, unless you want to try it yourself. It just takes a couple wrenches, a feeler gauge, and about 45 minutes worth of work. Just don’t screw it up…

Wouldn’t out of adjustment valve lash be noisier cold than hot?

Any chance this could be an ignition spark jumping? Sometimes aged spark plugs may misfire when warm and that spark provided by the coil is going to attempt to go somewhere. This often means through the end of hte plug wire or plug boot.

That’s what I was wondering - if it doesn’t make noise when it’s cold, then what’s there to adjust if the engine has to be cold when they adjust the valves? (Also, the local Honda dealership will do it for $70, which isn’t bad, but I don’t want to pay that if that’s not the problem.) :slight_smile:

Often times you can see the stray sparking if you look at the engine in the dark. Since it seems very repeatable a mechanic should not have a problem locating the source of the noise.

With many cars this is not an eyeball process anymore as they use deep well plugs. There is simply no way of seeing down into the holes.

It would either be a physical inspection by removing the wire or coils as the case may be along with the plugs or connect the engine to an oscilloscope and watch the firing pattern.

If the plug well seals are leaking and the plugs are aged this could be a good reason to suspect a spark tick also.

This engine should get its valves adjusted every 30k miles.
This is one area where the Owners Manual can be too optimistic.
It ticks when it’s warm because the oil is thinner.
I’ve owned 4 Hondas ('75 Civic, '81, '85, '88 Accords) and adjusted the valves on all of them:
One of the most satisfying DIY maintenance jobs.