Why Is My Car Making a Clicking Noise When Driving?

Everyone loves their appliances and machines and would feel bad if any of them happened to be in bad condition. Cars are no different, and any malfunctions can be a pain. You may encounter severe damages to your car if you don’t take care to notice the signs of damage.

If your car is making a clicking noise when driving, this isn’t a good sign. Detecting this clicking sound and verifying what it means could mean the difference between a hefty mechanic bill and a healthy vehicle.

In the rest of this article, I will go through why your car is making a clicking noise, how to fix the problem, and whether or not you can drive a car while it makes this sound.

Clicking Noises in Cars

Generally, cars in good condition shouldn’t make any noise, but it doesn’t mean they work without noise. They are machines and will inevitably make some noise. However, clicking noises are not normal in cars regardless of the model, brand, or build.

Your car is clicking while driving because of loose brake pads, faulty spark plugs, or low engine oil. Additionally, when there’s damage to the lifters in the engine cylinder head or the CV axles shaft boot, your car can produce clicking sounds.

Some people tend to get distracted or worried by the ticking sounds that their cars make and desire a solution. Depending on what the ticking sound means, you might or might not need to worry about a solution for it. Nevertheless, here are the different issues that ticking sounds in your car might mean.

Issues Causing Ticking Sounds in Your Car

Clicking sounds are proof that your car has an issue with its functionality. Most of the time, it is a problem with your engine, so you can observe these sounds from the trunk of your vehicle. It could be a problem with engine or suspension components, oil level, or tire cap.

Loose Brake Pads

You will likely experience ticking sounds while taking a slow drive or pushing the brake to slow down a bit. The reason is that your brake pads are loose and not in the best-fixed position required for optimum functionality. These sounds might not be obvious when you move at full speed but will be evident at slow speeds.

It is also not good to leave your car’s brake pads fastened improperly, especially when moving at high speeds.

Low Engine Oil

Low engine oil in your car always spells a bad occurrence, especially If you don’t discover it early – engine oil functions as a lubricating agent between the several components working in your car. The engine’s little to no oil makes the parts dry and makes ticking sounds on contact.

The components in the vehicle are mostly metallic and require a medium to allow smooth movement between them. Engine oil fulfills this requirement, helping the parts avoid friction resulting in damages reducing your car’s efficiency.

Faulty Spark Plugs

This is not a common issue with cars, but when it does arise it can cause ticking sounds. Regular maintenance requires changing your spark plugs at a specific mileage depending on the vehicle. Observing ticking sounds with high mileage cars signifies that your spark plug might be the issue.

Like other issues, you might not notice it at high speeds due to external noise or your car’s regular sound. However, some drivers observe it after slowing down a bit or when they start driving at low speeds. The ticking noises might also be caused by a little gap in your plug’s position, causing gasses to escape.

Damaged Lifters in Engine Cylinder Head

Every car has a component in the engine that works to open and close the valves. It is called the lifter, and it can get worn out or damaged just like every other component in cars. The lifter will give off a low tone clanking sound that you will hear as ticking.

That sound results from the lifter hitting metal parts of the valve and won’t stop until it’s checked. You will likely experience the sound regardless of your car being idle or on the road at full speed.

Damage to Your Constant Velocity (CV) Axle

Clicking sounds occur for different reasons, but if you observe it while making a turn, then it’s your axle. A constant velocity (CV) axle is a component that allows the car to move in different directions. It works by enabling the transmission to exhibit various movements by driving the car wheels with the help of bearings.

Damages done to the CV axle’s shaft boot will cause a set of clicking sounds from the dry components. The reason is that the shaft boot holds grease for lubricating the axle, just like the function of engine oil.

How To Fix a Car That’s Making Clicking Noise While Driving

You now know the possible problems to look out for when observing ticking sounds in your vehicle. The next thing to learn is what to do after discovering the origin of these ticking noises.

Your best option in most cases is to visit a mechanic and have them check your car for the issue you have observed. Regular maintenance is also a great way to keep mechanic costs down since it will help you find and solve all problems, including those hidden from you.

However, here are some solutions you can do to solve these issues without your mechanic. As always, be careful when trying to fix a problem with your car yourself, and always take the necessary precautions so as to prevent any further issues from arising.

Top-Up Your Engine Oil When Low

You should try as much as possible to check your car’s oil level before leaving your location. It would also help to have an engine oil container in your vehicle, serving as a backup in any situation. Once the level is low, top it up with the extra you have in your car.

Replace Faulty Spark Plugs

Solving any issue with spark plugs is quite tricky since you might need to go quite deep into the engine. It’s best to call a mechanic in this instance and take public transport if you happen to be on your way to work.

However, you can DIY if it’s a casual outing or a remote location with no signal and no mechanic in sight. You will need to locate the spark plug and replace it or fix its seating position better if it’s usable.

Replace Damaged Lifters

The issues with the lifters on your engine cylinder head are quite easy to fix if you need a temporary solution. If you change the engine’s oil regularly the clicking noise should disappear.

Sometimes the regular oil changes or using an oil additive might stop the clicking sounds that you hear in the car from being noticed completely. However, the best solution is to have the lifters replaced by your mechanic since it is a permanent solution. Changing the oil might save costs but replacing the lifter prevents stress and future damages to your car.

Fix Loose Brake Pads

You definitely can’t fix these issues yourself except if you have a lot of experience with cars or work as a mechanic. Your only option is to call your mechanic to repair these parts of your vehicle and get them working.

Sometimes a repair might be possible, but other times it may require complete replacement of the parts. Your brake pads can be fixed in place, but that’s not the same for torn shaft boots on your axle. Just leave the issue to your mechanic and don’t attempt to fix it yourself unless you are confident with your skills.

Can You Drive a Car With a Clicking Noise?

You can drive a car with a clicking noise, but once you notice it, you should not drive it until it is repaired, especially if the problem is quite severe. Additionally, reach out to your mechanic to confirm if you can currently manage the car with the issues.

Mechanics are professionals and in the best position to give you advice on working with your vehicle. They will inform you if you should leave it until they arrive or drive down to the workshop for repairs. If your mechanic says the issue is not serious and gives you tips to handle it, do not do any repairs yourself.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes ticking sounds might not signify a terminal issue with your car, but you’ll still have to take a look and potentially talk to a mechanic. You might not be familiar with the noise, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

However, you might be able to differentiate the sounds if you are good with cars or used to them. Some ticking sounds like fuel injectors or purge and PCV valves are normal in vehicles. You need to get familiar with the normal sounds and call your mechanic for others.


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