Clicking Noise from engine of 2000 VW Eurovan (Sticky Lifter?)

Hello. I recently bought a 10 year old VW Eurovan in need of major repairs - timing chain, new transmission, some other odds and ends. The body and everything else was in good shape so we went for it. I relatively reputable repair shop in town did all of the repairs, but the one issue that we can’t seem to shake is a ‘tick tick tick tick’ clicking noise that sounds as if its about as fast as the engine RPM’s. It’s particularly noticeable / loud when the engine is idling at start up, when the car is moving towards an intersection at the very start of the day it can be a pretty pronounced loud clicking when engine is revving down in lower gear. As the car runs longer, it tends to make the clicking more prominent at idle. It hasn’t had any noticeable effect on performance, gas mileage, etc. The sounds is audible from drivers seat, but outside the car near the small engine compartment it is harder to hear.

Having taken it to two mechanics, both suggested that it was probably a ‘sticky lifter’ and that it wasn’t a concern and wouldn’t affect anything. One suggested staying on top of oil changes and that it might ‘work itself out’.

So my question is, should I care? Other than the clicking noise, does this matter at all for engine life, performance, reliability, etc? If yes, what? If no, given that this thing already has 140k miles on it and that we’re just using it for a city run-around with all of our kids for the next few years, I will just stop caring and turn up the radio.


It could be a sticky lifter or it could be a lifter that is worn along with a damaged camshaft lobe. Timing chain failures are usually caused by lack of regular oil changes so this could go along with either the sticky lifter or damaged lifter/lobe scenario.

Over time constant ticking will damage the lifter and lobe if it’s not damaged already.
What I would suggest is adding something like SeaFoam or Berryman B-12 to the engine oil and see if that clears it up.
Those products are comparatively cheap and worth a shot anyway. Knock on wood that it’s a sticky lifter.

Go to your locale auto parts store and find a miracle in a bottle. Seafoam whatever.

Eurovan’s will bankrupt you. I know three Eurovan owners and failing transmissions and $3-$4k timing chain replacements are the tip of the ice burg. Two are recovering.

Thanks Andrew J and OK4450 for the replies. I will try the Berryman B12 option and see if it has any effect.
Andrew, I’m not sure how you can get worse than a transmission replacement other than the engine blowing up on the highway, but suffice it to say I will not be driving this vehicle any longer if that happens :).

Others still potentially reading this thread:
I am still seeking an answer to the question: “So my question is, should I care? Other than the clicking noise, does this matter at all for engine life, performance, reliability, etc? If yes, what?”


While not intimately acquainted with your engine, yes, you should care. Not necessarily for any “fear factor” of catastrophic proportion, but the noise is indicative of certain conditions that should be remedied for the overall longer term health of the engine.

If any of the solvent based flushes fail to fix this, assuming that this is something that can be fixed with cleaning, I’d highly recommend trying Auto-Rx ( Use as directed. It’s a slower process than most of your solvent based cleaners.

I thought that I had answered it. A clicking lifter can cause a bit of an engine performance problem as it does not allow the valve to open all of the way and over time a clicking lifter can be destroyed along with the lobe on the camshaft if it goes on long enough.
At some point the clicking may become a knocking and it’s time to park it.

Clicking or knocking, it’s not a vehicle I would leave town in so keep it close to home.
The B-12 and SeaFoam are good products and if they don’t clear it up nothing will.

Don’t put solvents in your engine! the rubber seals may be attacked by something as strong as B-12. Use Auto-rx if you want, but pennzoil probably works just as well.

I also have a 2000 Eurovan (MV weekender), and I run pennzoil platinum for 8-10,000 miles, more if I’m driving long trips where engine oil isn’t taxed as hard. Just use a good filter from Germany.

You just put a lot of money into this car, don’t risk it by subjecting it to aggressive chemicals. Good luck and be gentle on the transmission with frequent ATF changes.


I am assuming here that the most basic testing has already been done on this.
If not, you might want to doublecheck that any of the sparkplugs are not begging to work themselves loose. When that happens they begin to “click/tick”.