I recently developed an engine tick!
I was casually driving home from work the other day when I heard a faint ticking noise coming from the engine. I immediately pulled over to find my oil was low. After examining the engine and under body, it was apparent my oil plug was in fact leaking (minor but noticable). Working in a dry gravel pit I must not have noticed a trail left behind. I added the quart of oil I carry in my trunk to hold over getting to the closest service center. They fixed the oil plug and performed an oil change adding in DuraLuba sludge away. ( assuming the ticking noise was a lifter sticking) they informed me to drive for a while and let the Duralube circulate and hopefully free up the lifter. ( again, assuming that’s causing the ticking noise.) I have only driven about 30km with no change. Looking for possible second opinions.
Engine: 2.2L DOHC ecotec
Sound: Ticking noise, not experiencing issues with start up, acceleration, or heavy idle.
The ticking increases with RPMs ( up to 2500 and then seems to get quieter) along with ticking as pedal is depressed.
No sign of overheating.
It sounds like a valve adjustment is required
There are many items that can make a ‘ticking’ noise that is tied to the RPM of the vehicle.
Having the sound match RPM’s certainly gives a clue that it is associated with the operation of the engine.
Many times a valve adjustment is required. This is a component of a regular maintenance schedule for almost all vehicles.
A valve adjustment ensures that valve clearance between your camshaft and your valve actuator (there are many different types) is correct. As normal wear occurs on the motor the gap between the two increases until enough gap is there for you to begin to hear a ticking noise.
There are certainly other possibilities regarding the sound.
a bad pully for a belt
a failing water pump can sometimes make a ticking sound
an alternator that is beginning to fail can make a ticking sound.
a way to check
You can get a long screwdriver and place the tip on the valve cover of your engine. Then press the handle into your ear and push the tragus of your ear over the canal and you will be able to listen to the inside of the engine. If the valves need to be adjusted you will hear the ticking loud and clear from the valve cover.
IF not, use the technique to listen around the engine bay to see if you can identify the source.
I have a screwdrivers with 18" shafts that are easy to do this with. You could also use a steel or aluminum rod or any other long tool that can transfer the sound through it. It will need to metal.
Concur w/CorollaGuy above, a ticking sound under 1 quart + low oil conditions most likely would be from the valve area. I would expect the problem to go away once the oil was restored. Since it didn’t, you may have some permanent damage to the engine internals, valve area or elsewhere. I don’t think this is just a simple sticking lifter problem. Note that the ticking may be unrelated to the low oil. Coincidence. A small exhaust leak will make a pft pft pfft sound, which could be described as ticking. A worn out bearing in a drive belt accessory, tensioner, or idler pulley can also sound like ticking. Or the drive belt itself could be damaged. Sometimes it is possible to narrow down the location of a sound using a length of old garden hose as a sort of stethoscope. If you could better locate the source of the sound, folks here might have some more ideas.