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No tick at startup, then slight ticking


April 10, 2006
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Year, Model & Trim Level
93 Explr 4dr
Ok, so I read about 25 different threads about lifter tick, and read a couple things about lifter replacement etc.

No one seemed to cover this though. When I start the engine ( standard 4.0 V6 with 362K) there is absolutely no tick for at least 15 or 20 seconds, then it comes on.

Performance seems unaffected, as it is running well. I have tried to get my hands down in all around the exhaust manifolds as I suspected this first. My ( usually flawed) logic is that once it starts heating up then the leak - slight ticking - would start. I could not find anything that seemed to be leaking in the exhaust.

I can just barely hear the ticking at highway speed. It is still just a slight tick at idle.

I was happy to read reports of people driving for 50 to 100K with a tick in the engine with no apparent harm.

My wife just lost her job and we are facing foreclosure next month so I really don't have any money to put into anything other than to try to cover the mortgage and food. The $16 for the Lucas Oil treat was painful.

I put in about a half a quart - don't know if that is enough to do anything.
I am only about 500 miles driven since the last oil change.

Any thoughts or ideas? I would have thought that if it was a lifter it would be worse at startup and then get better. I used to think I knew a lot about a lot of different things including mechanics, but after getting cheated by realtor, mortgage company, friends and not-so friends, I am starting to think I am really dumb. What did I miss?

To the Mods: If I have put this in the wrong place, please move it to where it should be. Thanks.

Show me a man who claims to know everything about everything and I'll show you a liar. :)

Anyway, a lifter tick would normally occur at startup since there's no / low oil pressure and would go away as oil pressure increased. Lifter ticks will increase with engine RPM, but an exhaust leak usually stays pretty consistent.

If you have a really long handled screwdriver, you can stick the blade on the valve covers and place your ear on the end of the handle and move the blade along the cover. If it's a lifter then you should be able to get a rough idea of which cylinder it's occurring on.

Based off what you've said, I would suspect an exhaust leak due to the fact that the ticking doesn't occur until after the engine has been running. If it were lifter tick / a collapsed lifter, then it would tick all the time and match engine RPM. One thing you can do is to take a flashlight and a small inspection mirror and look around the exhaust manifolds and see if there is black soot anywhere. If so, that's a huge indicator of an exhaust leak.

If you can do it safely, stick your hand around any areas of the exhaust where components are bolted together and feel for air. The manifolds to heads, manifold to exhaust pipe, Y-pipe to catalytic converter. Try to narrow down where the sound is coming from, then you'll have a better idea of what the cause is.