Jeeps are prone to a range of issues, but something that might fly under your radar is a ticking noise when accelerating. This odd symptom shouldn’t be ignored, however, as it can be a sign of a number of different issues. Here’s some of the most common reasons your Jeep is ticking when accelerating.
Generally, your engine will make a ticking noise as you accelerate if it’s struggling to power the vehicle. This issue can be caused by low engine oil levels, faulty bearings on the engine rod, a leaky exhaust manifold, or a faulty spark plug.
There’s lots of different problems that can cause a ticking noise in your engine, but thankfully, you can usually get a good idea of what’s wrong by identifying the symptoms and performing some basic maintenance checks. The rest of this article will cover why your Jeep makes a ticking noise as you accelerate.
When to be Concerned if Hearing a Ticking Noise
Ticking noises are actually to be expected in some parts of your vehicle and aren’t a cause for concern. It’s important to distinguish whether the noise is coming from the engine or not (pretty hard to do if the problem doesn’t occur while idling. In general, you don’t need to be concerned if the noise comes from the following sources:
- The PCV valve – As the valve wears out, it starts to make a ticking noise. Thankfully, this part is pretty easy to replace once you identify the source of the problem.
- Fuel injectors – Fuel injectors occasionally make ticking noises as they inject fuel into the engine. This noise is nothing to be concerned about and is actually a sign of normal function when the injectors are firing properly.
- Purge valves – A purge valve feed gasses from the charcoal canister to the intake, creating a ticking noise as it does so. If the noise is extremely infrequent and isn’t audible from the cabin, then it’s likely nothing to worry about.
Primary Causes of a Jeep Making a Ticking Noise when Accelerating
If you’re pretty confident that the concerning noise is coming from your engine, then there’s a number of potential problems to consider. In most cases, it’s caused by the failure of a mechanical part, making it so that the engine has a hard time providing the necessary power to move the vehicle forward.
In any of these problems, you’ll usually also notice something else wrong with your engine—rough idling, poor fuel economy, grinding—as a more prevalent symptom than the ticking itself, so make sure you listen to your Jeep and identify any changes in your vehicle’s performance.
Low Engine Oil
Everyone’s forgotten to check their engine oil from time to time, but this is a maintenance habit you should certainly practice regularly. Your engine oil tells you a lot about the state of your engine, and if the oil levels are too low, then your engine can overheat, leading to excessive wear and tear.
Oil helps lubricate the engine, and if there’s not enough, metal rubs on metal, which can create a whining, grounding, or ticking noise. This can be referred to as engine knocking, and the ticking noise specifically is usually associated with the valve train and the timing chain.
If low engine oil is your issue, then the ticking noise will definitely ramp up in intensity as you accelerate, quite simply because the engine is under greater stress. Topping up your engine oil with the appropriate viscosity for your vehicle is a sensible next step to avoid further damage to your engine.
Bearings play a very important role in numerous parts of your Jeep, and when they wear out, it can cause various components to malfunction.
In particular, worn out bearings in the engine rod allow the rod to move in an unintended way, causing a ticking or rattling sound as it moves around. If rod knocking is your issue, it’s generally also associated with sudden fluctuations in the RPM.
Unfortunately, rod knock is particularly difficult to fix and may require an entirely new motor to replace.
Leaky Exhaust Manifold
The exhaust manifold funnels hot exhaust through the exhaust pipes, but if it develops a leak, then the gasses can escape under high pressure.
As the vehicle accelerates and pumps more expended exhaust fumes through the manifold, a ticking noise can occur. You may also notice a louder sound from your engine, a loss of power, fuel economy decline, or a burning smell from the engine bay.
Spark Plug Malfunctions
Spark plugs serve the simple purpose of igniting the gasoline in the combustion chamber. If a spark plug is malfunctioning, then there may be a ticking noise associated with the problem. You’ll likely also experience a hard engine start, rough idling, poor fuel economy, weaker acceleration, and more misfires.
What to Watch Out for as a Jeep Owner
While these problems are common in almost all motor vehicles, there are a number of problems that can occur with Jeeps specifically when accelerating.
Owners have reported Jeeps making a knocking or ticking noise when pressing on the gas pedal, going over bumps, or accelerating. The ticking can be in sync with the wheel rotation or the engine’s RPM.
If you’ve recently modified your suspension, then you’ll want to look into the possibility of a loose control arm bushing. For off-road adventurers, it’s entirely possible that the ticking noise is down to a skid plate making contact with the exhaust pipe, prompting a need to realign your skid plates.
In addition, run a quick check on your exhaust clamps and rear tracked bar to make sure both are properly torqued to avoid clicking or knocking as you drive.
The most common cause for ticking while accelerating is the excess movement from the inside of the u-joint, creating a recognizable clunking, knocking, or ticking sound as it rotates.
A worn u-joint can also cause the tiny bearings to dry out, causing a clicking noise as the driveshaft rotates.
To fix this issue, you’ll need to inspect the joint where the shaft meets the inner axle, checking for excess play. Replace the u-joint as necessary and make sure the needle bearing is lined up properly before installing.
Worn Out Hubs
If your hubs are worn out or your wheel bearings are dry, then you might hear a clicking, ticking, or popping noise coming from the wheels. In this event, all you need to do is lubricate or replace the parts as necessary.
If you’re offroading a lot, then the issue could simply be a result of stones in the wheel tread. This occurs as you go back onto the road and is especially prevalent in vehicles that have a wider tread pattern. Removing the stones or debris in the tread will fix the issue, but usually, it’ll go away by itself.
Another common cause of clicking and ticking, the CV joint is particularly susceptible to ticking noises if you’re using it offroad with sharp tire lifts—even more so with a modded suspension system.
These systems generally place high pressure on the CV joints such that it starts to click and tick under the pressure.
Purge Solenoid Valve Failure
While the purge solenoid is supposed to make a ticking noise, it generally shouldn’t be audible from the cabin of the vehicle.
You can locate this part by the word UP or TOP on the solenoid. If the ticking noise produced is extremely loud, then you’ll likely need to replace the valve, assuming it’s accessible from the inside.
Hydraulic Lifter Rattling
A ticking hydraulic lifter is a well-recorded annoyance with the 4.0 Wrangles, caused when a gap begins to form between the pushrod and the lifters such that they are not in constant contact with each other, causing a frustrating ticking noise to occur.
Thankfully, this problem doesn’t detrimentally affect your engine and isn’t something to be too concerned about. The solution, should the ticking noise annoy you that much, is to take apart and rebuild the cylinder head with new hydraulic lifters.
Exhaust Manifold Ticks
If you have an exhaust manifold tick, then you’ll be able to identify it by the extremely rhythmic sound it makes—almost in time to the beat of a song—caused by the sync with the engine RPM.
The noise occurs when the manifold bolts get loose or break over time. To fix the issue, you’ll need to identify the source of the leak and address it as needed.
My Final Thoughts
There are a number of problems that can result in a clicking, knocking, or ticking sound in your Jeep when accelerating.
The most common cause is the play between the hydraulic lifter and the pushrod, which is thankfully nothing to be concerned about. If you’re experiencing ticking noises, then it’s usually a good idea to identify the source of the noise and take your Jeep straight to the mechanic.