Engine Tick or exhaust system? | Ford Explorer - Ford Ranger Forums - Serious Explorations
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Well-Known Member
June 29, 2015
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City, State
Clearwater, Florida
Year, Model & Trim Level
2005 Ford Explorer XLT
Hey there!

First off, let me start by saying that I am so proud of where ExplorerForum has come! The website looks great, and the community is bigger, better, and more active than ever!

Let's begin...

For a long time now, I have had an oil leak. I would put 2 quarts of 5W-30 in, and about 3 weeks later, I could start to hear a very slight ticking noise, which would get louder over the next week until I topped off the oil again. This leak was causing me to top off the empty oil with fresh oil every month, so I haven't really cared to fix it.... it's almost beneficial in my eyes!

I switched to 10W-30 probably 5 months ago and have continued the same process. I noticed the heavier oil lasts longer and leaks slower, which is why I switched... but of course, the leak hasn't disappeared. Once I hear the slight ticking noise, I know it's getting dry in there, and it's time to top it off with more oil. Instatly, the tick goes away--like it's been lubricated! Takes about 6 weeks to empty and start ticking again.

However, starting about a month ago.... the same ticking noise that I hear when it is getting low on oil... it seems to be "staying" now...

Most notably when I go through restaurant drive-thrus, and the building wall is to my left, the sound echos off of the wall and I can hear the tick VERY WELL. However, my oil is topped off -- so this tick must be caused by something other than whatever causes the tick when the oil is low.

Today I did a super quick ear check (it was hot outside and I had groceries in the trunk) under the hood to see whereabouts the sound is coming from... it was right around the area of the AC Compressor/Power steering pump/spark plugs. The tick is a very constant 3 ticks per second, possibly getting faster as I rev the engine slightly.

Tick is not to be confused with the AC compressor clicking on.

I believe it is important to note that I have had an exhaust smell for as long as I have owned my Ex, but the smell has gotten stronger recently. Might be related?

Not sure if the tick is related to my oil leak, so it is up to you if you want to bring the 2 issues together as one.

Any help is appreciated!

Thanks in advance. :)

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It could be normal valvetrain wear our trucks experience. That would be my guess. But it could also be injectors ticking too. You will need to do more sleuthing on this with a stethoscope to firmly locate the noises and go from there.

It's possible that permanent damage has occurred to your rockers/pushrods. They already have poor lubrication without being low on oil. Running them a little dry will certainly wear them down. Basically causing slap.

I eventually discovered that this tick is actually a different tick than the one associated with being low on oil.

The tick I was inquiring about in this post is actually coming from my AC compressor and has not gone away since this post.

My AC is still cold and never has stopped working, but that tick is obnoxious!

What might cause an AC compressor to tick like that? The tick stops if I turn the AC off (by pushing the knob in)

Constant repetitive tick? Or every so often?

When the clutch engages the pulley, it'll make a tick sound.

Constant repetitive tick? Or every so often?

When the clutch engages the pulley, it'll make a tick sound.

It's a constant, loud and steady click.

Similar to the click when the compressor activates, like you said, but it doesn't stop ticking

Does it make this noise with the belt off? Spinning the pulley only, by hand.

The bearing in the pulley may be going bad. If it makes the noise with the belt off and the clutch disengaged.

Otherwise, if it's the compressor, you've got problems coming.