If my car is idle, and the key isn't in the ignition, everything works as usual, but the second I flip the car key (turning on the battery, but not the engine) there's a midly loud ticking noise.

It persists when the car is running, but as soon as I turn the car's engine & battery off it just goes silent again.

The battery iself is well fitted and is quite new. I do realize that there are other questions here with similar issues, but most of them occur after the car is moving, while this happens as soon as I flip the key (independently if the motor is running or not)

  • What area of the car is the noise coming from? Interior, exterior, front, rear, engine compartment, etc?
    – CharlieRB
    Dec 7, 2016 at 12:42
  • Front, unsure exactly where from, but it's right in front of the driver's seat. The weird part is that today the noise was gone. Only difference between today and the past 3 days was that the weather was warmer
    – Oak
    Dec 7, 2016 at 19:35
  • I would suggest if this happens again, turn off all interior accessories (radio, blower, wipers, etc) and see if you can isolate where the sound is coming from. If it stops with shutting off the accessories, turn them back on one at a time to see which triggers the sound.
    – CharlieRB
    Dec 7, 2016 at 21:25

1 Answer 1


The noise could be a relay that is getting pulled in, then dropping out again – which would cause the clicking sound. Most cars have a load reduction relay, and there may be others as well, that apply power only when the ignition is on.

Usually the clicking sound happens when the battery is very low, so it is a bit puzzling that you're hearing this when the battery seems to get good.

Some cars also have valves in their vacuum systems that modulate the parameter they are controlling (turbo boost, EGR, etc.) by opening and closing relatively frequently (several times per second). In my experience that sound can be heard, but requires careful listening.

Unless this sound is typical of Fiats and somebody recognizes it, the next thing to do would be for you to try and isolate the sound. Since it happens with the engine off, it should be fairly easy to do this, and relatively free of danger. Here's what to do:

  1. Open the hood and front doors.
  2. Turn the ignition on and listen for the sound.
  3. Move around listening to the sound so that you can identify the general area it comes from. The area around the steering wheel, the fuse panel, and the firewall are particularly worth paying attention to.
  4. Once you localize the source, start looking for a little box with wires coming from it. It will look something like the ones to above and to the right of the yellow arrows in the photo below:

enter image description here

  1. Also listen around the brake booster (the large round thing more or less directly in front of the driver) for noise coming from the ABS controller and the belts on the engine for noise coming from the A/C compressor – really just keep listening until you're pretty sure you know where the sound is coming from.

  2. If you can isolate it well enough that you think you see the source that is great, but even if you can't it will help tremendously to know about where it comes from (e.g., above the pedals, in the area around the fuse panel).

  3. If you can point to what you think is the source. You should be able to confirm this by holding a "dense rod" against it and listening to the other end. As long screwdriver works well for this, but anything dense will conduct sound pretty well. If the "stethoscope" is touching the source you will hear a very distinct click.

  4. Send us a photo of the culprit.

  • Forgot to update /accept. Turns out it was loose connection that has been working fine since I last smacked it months ago. Glad I got notified of this question
    – Oak
    Oct 24, 2017 at 3:49

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .