By on May 3, 2016

2011_ford_mustang_eng_10-de-as_4_717

Walt writes:

Sajeev,

I wrote to you five years ago about a frozen Ranger parking brake, and later on about the incredibly dumb idea of purchasing a vintage Mustang with a loan. Thankfully, the former resolved itself, and the latter remained a pipe dream. What I did do, however, was buy a ’14 Mustang GT with a 5.0-liter Coyote V8 and six-speed manual. It now has around 9,800 miles.

At around 3,000 miles it developed a clicking noise at idle, audible with the driver side window rolled down and a curb or jersey barrier to bounce the sound back at me. The frequency of this click increases with engine revs. Existence of this issue with the 5.0-liter Coyote is well documented on F-150 and Mustang forums alike.

Theories range from “don’t worry about it,” to noisy fuel injectors, to normal operation of the variable valve timing system, or camshaft problems.

I haven’t noted any power loss or additional malfunctions, just the click. The only thing I have seen is oil consumption; about 3/4 of a quart over the last 5,000 miles or so. With forum posts that report anything from zero oil consumption to rates similar to my own, I don’t know what to make of it.

There doesn’t seem to be any technical service bulletins for such a problem. I am somewhat hesitant to take it in for unnecessary diagnostics and tear-downs if it’s a non-issue. However, if it truly is a ticking time bomb, I want to take care of it while the warranty is still in effect.

I would appreciate any insights you or the Best and Brightest may have to offer.

Sajeev answers:

Yeah, my 2011 Ford Ranger makes that fuel injector clicking sound too. It comes from the disc design (?) of newer fuel injectors, combined with the fact that computers normally dump extra fuel to keep a cold motor running. It’s the only logical reason I’ve seen for this phenomena, as it does cover a variety of makes and models over the last decade-ish.

I reckon you could disconnect a fuel injector when idling to see if the sound changes. It won’t hurt anything, as the old school EFI cylinder balance test has done this for years.

Speaking of old school, I was worried my 1988 Mercury Cougar would start that late-model tick after ditching the old pintle injectors for the discs (?) from a 2004 Mustang GT. Thankfully, they are silent — or perhaps Sanjeev got lucky after getting an old Cougar drunk late one night?

10599397_10152386164938269_6835086751414511857_n

(BTW, this is what happens when you can’t find your roll of painter’s tape.)

[Images: Ford, © 2016 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars]

Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

56 Comments on “Piston Slap: Tapping and Clicking Fuel Injectors?...”


  • avatar
    gtemnykh

    Could be different things. Ford released a TSB relating to the cam phasers as I recall, but the issue for some folks turned out to be much more sinister: horoscopes show cylinder wall scoring on cyl #4, some folks have lucked into short blocks totally paid for inside their warranty period.

    • 0 avatar
      heavy handle

      re: “horoscopes show cylinder wall scoring on cyl #4”

      I presume that’s autocorrect’s version of “boroscope”?

    • 0 avatar
      NeilM

      “Could be different things. Ford released a TSB relating to the cam phasers as I recall”

      Set the phasers to stun, Jim, not to click.

    • 0 avatar
      Sigivald

      Is there a !#!^$ Ford v8 that doesn’t/hasn’t had a cam phaser problem?

      (Says the guy with a Triton 5.4 3V.

      A newly rebuilt one, replacing the one that blew up at 130kmi.

      But I’m not bitter. Much.)

      • 0 avatar
        mason

        “Is there a !#!^$ Ford v8 that doesn’t/hasn’t had a cam phaser problem?”

        Gotta love the modular engine family!

        We own two 4.6’s, a 3 valve and a 4 valve, and they are both rattle traps. I actually get looks from the occasional attentive motorist that pulls up next to me at a red light.

        • 0 avatar
          gtemnykh

          I always thought that was cracked exhaust manifolds that caused the loud ticking/rattling on mod motors?

          • 0 avatar
            mason

            That’s another common issue with them, although the sound is distinctly different once you’ve heard them both.

            The wife’s 4.6 also developed an exhaust manifold leak at 30k miles. Then the tech snapped the rear most exhaust stud while trying to change the gasket. They ended up having to pull the motor to drill and tap the stud. What a fiasco.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    Couldn’t the source of this clicking be easily determined with a mechanic’s stethoscope? (Or, failing that, using a long wrench or screwdriver as an ersatz one?)

  • avatar
    mason

    If its whining or ticking, it’s likely a Ford comin at ya.

    The better half’s 4.6 has had a nasty cam phaser “knock” since nearly new. I had it looked at several times by different mechanics and even different dealerships and they all said the same thing. “Don’t worry, they all do it”.

    Ive done periodic oil analysis at the end of an oil change interval and in 110k miles have yet to see any kind of elevated wear metals. For me, that was the only peace of mind. Well worth the $20 they cost.

    • 0 avatar
      Corollaman

      Whining, ticking plus the sound of an old spring mattress coming from the suspension of Ford trucks and SUV’s as they age, makes for quite a symphony

      • 0 avatar
        tresmonos

        Funny, my 30 year old Lincoln air suspension never creaked like your sh1tty twist beam chinese pot metal rear suspension does, Corollaman. But… with your professional & value added knowledge base, please tell me which manufacturer I can buy that has somehow figured out how to source McPherson struts from a Tier 1 supplier that defy material science / metallurgy.

        • 0 avatar
          Corollaman

          Oh my bad I was not aware that every Ford truck came equipped with air suspension, I thought they just used good ole springs and shocks. How stupid of me. BTW I don’t have a shitty twist rear suspension, the 98 Corolla did not have such an advanced system yet.

          • 0 avatar
            tresmonos

            Are you going to participate in value added discussion, today? Ever? I have little faith.

          • 0 avatar
            Sigivald

            Play nice, kids.

            (I like my ’05 Corolla, AND my F250.

            Yes, it’s noisier – it’s a *full size truck* with twice the mileage of the Corolla.

            And the Corolla was squeaky and rattly as hell until I took the center console apart and put RTV or foam on every two adjacent pieces.

            They both suck and they’re both great.)

    • 0 avatar
      06V66speed

      +1, mason.

      I’ve heard ticking and clicking out of (seemingly) every Ford product I’ve ever owned, *with* the exception of my 72 Mustang (which had a Torino-sourced 302 bored 30 over).

      My old man’s 96 Continental with the 4.6L Intech ticked like a sumbitch but never suffered any consumption issues, right on up to 160k or so miles.

      The worst at such, my ’89 TC, which by the way, always consumed oil. I once had a mechanic tell me that the 5.0L EFI was designed to “use” oil, and that he (the mechanic) would add a little oil each time he’d fill up the tank. I never could confirm that notion regarding 5.0L’s “using” oil. But sure enough, mine always did.

      • 0 avatar
        JimZ

        the 5.0 EFI motors had a little-known mesh PCV filter on the back of the lower intake manifold. nobody ever knows about it, they get plugged up, the PCV system stops working, and then crankcase pressure starts pushing past the gaskets. Oil loss starts going up, and a lot of it collects on the engine. Back in the ’90s I saw several late ’80s Panther cars in the middle of an engine fire, and AFAIK this was a potential cause.

    • 0 avatar
      DohctorSmith

      Have owned five DOHC 4.6’s since 1993 and have never heard this tick.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “I reckon you could disconnect a fuel injector when idling to see if the sound changes. It won’t hurt anything, as the old school EFI cylinder balance test has done this for years.”

    on an OBD-II car this will probably get you a check engine light for misfire codes.

  • avatar
    tresmonos

    It could be cam phaser backlash, an exhaust camshaft journal making noise or what Sajeev indicates about the fuel injector. They put a fuel rail cover on the Coyote at launch.
    gtemnykh may be right, too. I haven’t heard much about cylinder wall scoring, however.

    My money would be on the noisy fuel injector. Mine ticks like a sewing machine yet it doesn’t bother me as it sounds just like the dozens of Coyote’s I’ve driven around for weeks at a time. Coyote’s are prevalent enough that I would find someone else with an engine and do a comparison. If it’s still worrying you, take it into a dealer to have it on record that you and a service writer heard the sound prior to your warranty expiring. Just in case.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      The #8 cylinder has a propensity to $hit the bed and score the cylinder wall. It seems to be most common in earlier Coyote Mustangs. The problem seems to be exacerbated on tuned vehicles.

      That being said, the OP’s tick could be anything.

  • avatar
    davefromcalgary

    Tres, bball, educate this Ford luddite. Is the Coyote direct injected? Im guessing Sajeev’s Ranger isnt. My understanding is the high pressure injectors used in DI systems are loud. The Verano rythmically ticks along quietly but noticeably at idle. Are Fords more prone to ticking for some reason?

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      No. It’s traditional port injection. It’s typically much quieter than the 3.5TT, which has DI.

      The 3.5TT is much quieter at idle than DI four pots though. My Focus ST, and especially VW GTI were way louder at idle than my MkT.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        I borrowed the Sierra to tow a uhaul last weekend.

        I’ve always liked the notion of the ecoboost. I think turbos have a place. But I gotta say, the sound of the small block (through a slightly hotter than stock Borla dual exhaust, dealer installed) is a hard thing to give up.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          The whoosh of the 3.5TT leaves something to be desired when compared to LT V8 with aftermarket exhaust.

          In other, non-truck segments, the 3.5TT makes a great noise when compared to the competition.

    • 0 avatar
      tresmonos

      They are not DI. But the injector system is still audible (just not as loud as a DI fuel pump). The cam phaser, valve lifters on the 5.0 can be heard.

      I’ve heard of lash adjuster contamination years ago (not a big deal and was contained), the exhaust side #2 cam cap needing retorqued (also fixed).

      If there is any corrective action needed, my guess would be that Sajeev’s column won the lottery and we are witnessing the report of a defect within 6 sigma levels of the cam cap being loose.

      • 0 avatar
        davefromcalgary

        Tres I know ford is your bailiwick, but I seem to recall the GM 3.4 and 3.8L V6 engines having a rhythmic tick at idle.

        Or anyone else who may have noticed this?

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          My 96 Achieva’s 3100 certainly had an idle tick.

          • 0 avatar
            davefromcalgary

            Ah yes the 3100 as well. From the time I was 10 till 20, we had 4- 3800’s, 1 2.8L, two 4300s, and 2 3100’s role through our household. Not to mention a few twin cams.

            Two of the 3800’s are still going strong in my dad’s possession.

  • avatar

    The biggest problem with that engine has always been THAT IT’S NOT A SUPERCHARGED 6.2-L HEMI.

  • avatar
    LXbuilder

    I’m with Sajeev, it’s injector noise and 5.0 Coyote is definitely not the only place you’ll hear it. 5.7 Hemi Mopars that make that same ticking noise, and if you use a simple stethoscope to listen for it, you can hear they are the source.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “5.7 Hemi Mopars that make that same ticking noise”

      I read about this, but I’ll have to give my particular 5.7L some credit here because it doesn’t have any noticeable injector tick (I’m sure with a stethoscope I’d hear something).

      Not sure if this is because the engine is relatively young (only 13000 miles), because I live in a year-round warm climate, the fuel I use, or just luck.

      Although maybe the Hemi is *supposed* to tick and mine is broken.

    • 0 avatar
      JimZ

      the Magneti Marelli injectors the SRT-4 used were notoriously ticky.

    • 0 avatar

      My Dad’s 2005 300C ticked louder than my Ranger from sometime after the first 1000 miles to all the way to 16,000 miles or so before he sold it.

  • avatar
    TMA1

    May I suggest a louder exhaust system that will drown out the ticking sound?

  • avatar
    tanooki2003

    Typically if it’s a slight click then i wouldn’t worry about it so much. it would be the fuel injectors and there is not a whole lot you can do about it. Usually it can be determined if the noise is evenly spread across all the fuel rails.
    If it is making a louder tapping noise or even sounding almost like an unrefined engine from the early 80’s, especially in a specific concentrated section of the engine then it is the lifters. I’ve had Fords and Hyundais that from time to time have lifter noise cause by partial oil starvation, especially after driving hard a lot. In that case i would use a full can of SeaFoam in the crank case maybe 400-500 miles before your next oil change to flush out any possible buildup of oil sludge and burnt oil causing the slight starvation. Then add synthetic blend oil along with Z-Max engine treatment. i prefer Z-maz but you could also use the STP motor treatment that comes in the same shape can as SeaFoam.
    It may or may not take care of the lifter noise the instant the new oil + additive is put in. Usually you have to drive about 200-300 miles for the new oil to completely circulate a few times and clear up.

  • avatar
    TEXN3

    My dad had a similar noise (slightly louder than normal injector noise, more like a lifter) when his 2012 GT had a few thousand miles. I also had a similar noise on my company pickup (F150 5.0). Goes away after a few more thousand miles and a couple oil changes.

    Like tresmonos stated, take it in and they can log your concern.

  • avatar
    EAF

    I doubt the noise you refer to is injector tick. In my experience, injector tick is something that is always present and does not “develop after 3,000 miles.” While some injectors can be more audible than others, they are usually very easy to discern and isolate.

    It could be many many different things. Exhaust leak? Piston slap? Chain or tensioners? VVT components? It sucks but I would take it in to a reputable dealer to have it looked at.

    You mentioned oil consumption, what oil is your engine spec’d for? What oil & filter are you running? Is it still the factory fill at 9,800 miles? Is the noise more audible when the engine oil is hot?

  • avatar

    I’m not a mechanic but I’ve been doing IT work for a small chain of auto repair shops for 20 years or so. I’m out in the shops very very often keeping the Tech 2’s, IDS’s, DRB 3’s and Can scan tool stuff working. I see a lot of cars. Mostly broken cars.

    Seems to me that almost all modern engines, regardless of make, have injector noise. The quieter ones all have some miles on them. 80k or so. There’s a sweet spot in there mileage wise when most engines seem quiet.

    I own two Town Cars. One has 147K on it and the other has 54k on the odo. The low mileage car has a fair amount of injector noise. Nothing overly objectionable but it’s there. The 147k car is quiet as a mouse. You can hardly hear it idle at all. Never had the injectors serviced. They seem to “wear in” for lack of a better term.

    I don’t know the how or whys but that’s the casual observer take for what it’s worth.

  • avatar
    Compaq Deskpro

    My Pentastar Challenger did this since brand new on the dealer’s lot. I don’t think much of it because my Crown Vic did it a lot louder.

Read all comments

Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Arthur Dailey: Sleeper? The VW Westphalia with the pop top, of course. Slept a small family. The buzz of the air...
  • -Nate: ? What logic ? . He’s just afraid and frightened people do & say odd things…. -Nate
  • -Nate: Very interesting . Looks like they’re going to try to be like GM was long long ago . If they can make...
  • Arthur Dailey: Have to agree that the instrument panel on those Grand Prix’s was excellent. Far better than the...
  • Arthur Dailey: An old saying is that ‘a fish rots from the head down’. It is the same with a corporation....

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Who We Are

  • Matthew Guy
  • Timothy Cain
  • Adam Tonge
  • Bozi Tatarevic
  • Chris Tonn
  • Corey Lewis
  • Mark Baruth
  • Ronnie Schreiber