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My Ford F 150's clicking?


I’m not a mechanic but have been one when cars were a lot simpler.

I bought this 1999 F 150 ( on e bay )with a 5.4 liter V8. Upon inspection everything seemed relatively as described. I met the guy half way between our houses for the pick up.

However when I get it home and start it the next day there’s a faint clicking. This clicking gets louder as the truck warms up, it crescendos then stops completely when the truck is warm. To me it sounds like a sticking lifter? But I’m told my motor doesn’t have those.

So my question is two part

A) what could that clicking be?

B) Do you ( or anyone ) recommend some kind of engine flush? ( Or something else for that matter?

Shelby4ken is Stumped on Long Island

Good news-stops so aint a dropped vlv seat!!If last owner ran real thin 5W 20 oil, try thicker/synthetic. I’d go around her W/ a long stick to my ear to find it, old school.

Yes, you could have an oil related problem, but there are a few other possibilities. Exhaust leaks can make funny noises. Fuel injectors make faint clicking noises that you should be able to hear with the hood open. You didn’t mention how many miles are on the truck. Your engine has a good lot of timing chain for those overhead camshafts so I would suggest synthetic oil only, in an attempt to make them last as long as you can. Castrol Syntec is my favorite if you change your own oil. Those engines with roller lifters, such as my Chevy 4.8 are their own complicated affair so you aren’t secure no matter which type of engine you have. Your engine would have cost a fortune in the sixties. Nothing to worry about, unless you like worrying. You also have drive belt rollers, alternator bearings, AC bearing, and there is a chance that you have something that resembles lifters in those heads.

The ticking could still be a lifter…well, a tappet anyway.

Most overhead cam engines also haev a hydraulically (few have mechanical) operated assemblage between the camlobes and the valvestems that expands via the oil pressure and self-adjusts to “fill” the slop between the parts. These can get gummed up just like lifters.

Having said that, this engine may be a pushrod (I don’t know), and/or it could be one of those that has “piston slap”, a condition where the piston skirts are apparently too short and slap the sides of the cylinder walls until everything heat-expands to operating size. A quick search of the internet for this subject will turn of lots of data.

Thanks for the responses. I’m new to this new stuff. My 89 F150 6 cyl is still running…wife just can’t be seen in it! This new one I picked up has 124,000 mi on it. It’s not a pully because it starts out soft, builds in noise while warming up then just quits? It’s coming from the top end ( I believe ) drivers side.

<< Most overhead cam engines also have a hydraulically (few have mechanical) operated assemblage between the camlobes and the valvestems that expands via the oil pressure and self-adjusts to “fill” the slop between the parts. These can get gummed up just like lifters.>>

That sounds more like what I’m experiencing ( or that piston slap ) The colder it is outside the longer it clicks while warming up.

Now, can that gummed up blockage be removed? without removing too much of the engine? Will engine flush ( or several ) remove it?

And WHAT? No sarcasm? sheeeeeessss It wouldn’t be car talk without it!!!


There are products at the parts stores to flush the lubricating system out. I’ve never used them, but lots of folks here suggest Seafoam. If you follow the directions precisely they may help. Others here have suggested home remedies, but I’m personally a strong believer that unless you’re willing to risk serious damage home remedies should not be used. There are plenty of options from legitimate companies.

You got no sarcasm because your post was clear, concise, well organized and to the point, and you gave us all the information we needed. Congratulations. Nice work.

Crescendos ?

Take vehicle to the Boston Pops in Tanglewood this summer. They can tune your car, while you have your pickik lunch!


Im an auto lock technologist, not a mechanic!

I had the same problem in my '99 Montana. It turns out that I needed a special type of oil filter with an anti-flowback design, not just the typical Kmart $1.50 filter. Since using those, the clicking stopped. It used to be really loud on very cold mornings. Check and see if you need a special oil filter. Also, try some Lucas-brand oil additive.

Ha ha ha
That’s my problem! For my living I’m a piano mover. So while I can Tunafish I cannot tune a piano. me me me me…

I’m going to flush the block tomorrow ( Sunday ) Should be about 40 degrees or so. I’ll report my findings in the beginning of the week.


Sunday I added 1 quart of Gunk ? engine cleaner to my oil, let my truck idle for five minutes ( as per directions ) drained and filled with 5 quarts of Castrol Syntec and one quart of Marvel Mystery Oil ? engine cleaner.

I noticed a film of white scum on the bottom of the oil cap. ( An indication of water? )

The clicking has been drastically reduced not only in time but in volume. I will change the oil in 1,500 miles coem back and dlet you know how things are