CarTalk.com Best of Deals Car Reviews Repair Shops Cars A-Z Radio Show

Clicking Noise When Cold

I have a 2005 Ford Explorer. Every time I start my car and it has been off for more than a couple of hours it makes a clicking noise that goes away as the car warms up. This happened once last fall and I took the car in for an oil change and the noise got much better then completely stopped. It just came back within the last couple of weeks, but I just had an oil change about a month ago. I checked the oil and it’s not low. The noise was going away after less than a minute, but now it has started lasting more like five minutes (depending on how long it takes me to get on the freeway). By the time I arrive to work the car is quiet.

I keep reading that this probably has something to do with the lifters. Some people say that it might be engine sludge, etc and that a cleaning agent might be helpful. Other people say that cleaning agents might be harmful. Someone told me I just need to get my lifters replaced. That’s an expensive repair. I am just not sure what to do and I am afraid that just taking it to my mechanic will lead to getting new lifters whether completely necessary or not and I can’t really afford it.

Any suggestions?

Take it to your mechanic and ask him to listen and tell you what he thinks. The only way he’ll take the liberty of replacing your lifters without your consent is if you drop it off and say “fix it” without giving him any groundrules.

By the way, the engine, mileage, and maintenance schedule would help us to pass on any common problems and their solutions if we know of any.

What you are describing sounds like lifters. My recommendation, get another oil change. Fresh oil will help remove any sludge without the harsh solvents that you are concerned about. Use the clicking sound as a guide to oil changes for awhile.

If after a couple of oil changes, the problem doesn’t clear up, you could ask for the oil change place to use 10w30 oil instead of 5w30. If that doesn’t help, it is quite possible that it is only one lifter that is causing the problem. If you have an OHC engine, then replacing a lifter isn’t that hard. If the cam is in the block (OHV) engine, then you might just want to get used to the noise.