2013 Chevy Cruze. 86000 miles.

Our car has been ticking while idling, and the noise gets louder and faster when accelerating. Oil has been changed regularly. Water pump was changed recently due to a leak. Not very car savvy, so I'm not sure what else to say about it...

  • I have the same problem with mine ppl keep telling me it's the lifters in the engine Commented Mar 3, 2017 at 15:54

3 Answers 3


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.

other possibilities

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.

Hope this is helpful. Good luck.


One possibility the other answer didn't mention is piston slap. A car with a piston slap can be driven, but the sound definitely affects resale value, as nobody wants a car with piston slap.

Piston slap is a ticking sound coming from the lower parts of the engine (the pistons moving in the cylinders). If you have piston slap, you may need to replace the entire bottom half of the engine to get rid of the sound, as pistons typically aren't the only worn component -- typically, cylinders are worn as well. Typically, it makes sense just to continue driving with the noisy engine, as the replacement of the bottom half is quite expensive.

However, is your sound piston slap? If the sound is worst when the engine is cold, it may very well be piston slap. Good cases of piston slap go completely away after the engine has warmed up for a while, whereas bad cases of piston slap can be heard even on a completely warmed up engine.


Sticky hydraulic lifters. Change the motor oil with Mobil 1 and substitute 1 quart with Marvel Mystery Oil. Run the car at highway speeds for 200-500 miles and change the oil again, this time adding a half quart MMO.

I had the same problem with my Mercedes-Benz E350 and the problem was solved after three weeks of driving.

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