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View Full Version : Engine Tick Problem - What to do???


j2schill
07-27-2007, 11:01 PM
I just bought a 2003 black cobra convertible (born 12/02) with 8300 miles. when i was orginally inspecting the car for purchase i did notice a tick at idle when i had the top down. My first thought was a exhaust leak since it had an aftermarket bassani system on it, and the private owner did the install. Soooooo maybe he didnt get a bolt torqued down all the way, and i left it at that without saying anything. I just recently have been trying to get the tick fixed and took it to a few auto places to diagnose the issue. Well it turns out it that the noise is comming from the valve train and echoing down the exhaust imitating an exhaust leak. The dreaded part is that im sure its outta warranty at only 10,500 miles. Questions/concers:
1. What should i do?
2. How much would it cost outta pocket for the dealership to address the problem - would they cut any kinda deal with it having such low miles
3. Ive heard that a few people have just been living with the tick and driving normal. any out there right now?
4. Does the motor have to come out of the car for this fix. @ the shop they thought it did
5. The sound is just buggin the sh*t outta me, and i wanna get it takin car of especially after just spending $27,000 w/tax on this car less than a month ago
6. I love the car but I almost feel like i should just sell it and take another chance, because i really dont feel like spending another $3000 to have a different head/s put on

cobrabitn
07-27-2007, 11:11 PM
I would bet the guy that sold it to you knew the car had the dreaded tick. Your car is out of warranty most likely so you are SOL as far as Ford is concerned. If you still have a valid warranty then they have to fix it.

Answers to your questions below:

1. Check and verify the car is out of warranty or see if the owner has an extended policy he can pass on to you.

2. Don't expect the dealership to cut you any kind of deal and it would cost a few thousand dollars.

3. I've heard the same thing but eventually metal will wear out and you will be fixing it anyway.

4. I do not think the engine has to be removed but the front cover, timing chains, and everything else related to that will have to be removed if they are going to replace the head. That is what Ford did when they had to fix them under warranty.

5. Unfortunately, you are the victim here and it is an expensive lesson. I would contact the original owner to see if they were happy knowing they sold you a car with a problem. At worst, they may help with some of the cost but I doubt it.

6. You will be doing the same thing that was done to you. A bad situation all the way around. :(

Big T
07-28-2007, 01:16 AM
Sorry to hear about your problem. I have heard of some driving with the tick and don't have any problems, but that would drive me nuts. If it is not under warranty then find a good shop in your area and mabye get some ported heads installed. Don't go to the dealership. They will overcharge you big time. You might as well get some more power if you have to get the head replaced. These cars are awesome and unfortunately some have the head defect.

blueblazes
07-28-2007, 09:27 AM
well how loud is it? The "tick" common in these cars is really really loud. One thing to know is the injectors also have a tick sound to. Theres a video on svtperformance of the "tick" and its a very loud sound let me try to dig it up.

here we go
http://www.madmav.com/brian/cobra/movie/MOV01323.MPG

red04svtcobra
07-28-2007, 04:21 PM
WOW that is loud!! I think the next upgrade for me is the LDC cooling mod.

j2schill
07-28-2007, 07:40 PM
The tick isnt as loud as that video yet. But then again the car low miles, and it will prolly get worse. The sound has the same beat though, but you can really only hear it underneath the car or by putting a screwdriver on the valve coverbolts. I was thinkin about runnin slick50 in the car to see if it will quiet up the problems. Any input? and can anyone confirm if the motor has to come out with the head swap.

tazzracing1
07-29-2007, 12:50 AM
Do Not use slick 50 bad news what happens to teflon when it wears?? Guess what it will do to cylinder walls. As stated before it may only be injector noise. I wish you the best.

blueblazes
07-29-2007, 02:58 PM
you could most likely do it with motor in car but it would be easier to drop kmember and motor out as one assembly and do it that way

j2schill
07-29-2007, 03:45 PM
What would a dealership/repair shop do? Drop the motor or not?

mkkrs1
07-29-2007, 04:16 PM
If you can post up a sound clip of your car. Could be normal sounds. These cars aren't that quiet to begin with.

ausie
07-30-2007, 08:08 AM
It depends on the noise...... Does the tick dissapear once the engine reaches operating temperature? If it does, it could be piston slap which is common with forged pistons (depending on ambient temperatures I can hear it during the warm up when it is cold out).

blk04cobra1
07-30-2007, 09:42 AM
Pulling the heads off of a 4valve motor with the motor still in the car is very difficult. It really is just easier to pull the motor and replace the heads with some ported one's or updated stockers...depending on your budget, you might consider beefing up the shortblock a little or adding some cams (even though the stockers are nice) while the motor is out. Me personally, I would just drive it til the tick gets to where you cannot take it anymore. Ive heard of really only a handful of blown engines directly related to the tick. On the other hand, it wouldnt hurt to give your local Ford dealer a call and see if they would still warranty the head swap b/c it is a known "defect". Let me know if you would like some pricing on doing a head swap (aftermarket or stock).

j2schill
07-30-2007, 07:35 PM
Some pricing on the head swap would be great. A cam change wouldnt be much more work if your pulling the heads right?

Previous question:

The tick does not go away when the engine gets warm. It gets louder. It is the least noticable when you first start the car for the first 1-2 minutes...then you start to hear the tick

blk04cobra1
07-31-2007, 09:48 AM
Some pricing on the head swap would be great. A cam change wouldnt be much more work if your pulling the heads right?

Previous question:

The tick does not go away when the engine gets warm. It gets louder. It is the least noticable when you first start the car for the first 1-2 minutes...then you start to hear the tick
I'll throw something together for you today, then let you know...to change out the cams is not going to be much with the heads off, but the cams themselves are not cheap...we would also recommend new springs as well, but we can talk about that later :thumbsup:

ausie
08-02-2007, 07:29 AM
Head tick: (correct me if I am wrong) From what I recall, the tick was related to coolant passages in the heads due to flow restrictions. How that effects the valve train not quite sure. You could inspect the dirvers head for a blob of blue paint that would indicate you have the revised heads.

What I had experience may not even be related to the dreaded head tick issue. Passenger side head developed a tick that was extremely pronounced shortly after an oil change (used a different oil than I normally use). Immediately after noticing the sound, I dumped the oil, added some cheap oil with motor flush and ran the engine for about 5 minutes at idle, followed by an oil and filter change with the oil I normally use. I suspect it was a valve lash adjuster that got stuck. The motor flush must have freed it up and it has never returned since. If it is related, it could be due to the coolant flow restrictions causing the oil to cook and varnish the valve train parts. As a last resort, you could try using the motor flush to wash out any varnish deposits followed by a complete oil change. Probably will not correct the problem though. Note: Do not use motor flush at every oil change since it thins the oil extremely, may cause wear due to the weakened oil bearings created by the solvents etc. I only use motor flush no more than once a year (if at all).

blk04cobra1
08-02-2007, 10:36 AM
Head tick: (correct me if I am wrong) From what I recall, the tick was related to coolant passages in the heads due to flow restrictions. How that effects the valve train not quite sure. You could inspect the dirvers head for a blob of blue paint that would indicate you have the revised heads.

What I had experience may not even be related to the dreaded head tick issue. Passenger side head developed a tick that was extremely pronounced shortly after an oil change (used a different oil than I normally use). Immediately after noticing the sound, I dumped the oil, added some cheap oil with motor flush and ran the engine for about 5 minutes at idle, followed by an oil and filter change with the oil I normally use. I suspect it was a valve lash adjuster that got stuck. The motor flush must have freed it up and it has never returned since. If it is related, it could be due to the coolant flow restrictions causing the oil to cook and varnish the valve train parts. As a last resort, you could try using the motor flush to wash out any varnish deposits followed by a complete oil change. Probably will not correct the problem though. Note: Do not use motor flush at every oil change since it thins the oil extremely, may cause wear due to the weakened oil bearings created by the solvents etc. I only use motor flush no more than once a year (if at all).
Ausie, you are correct...the passage of coolant threw the heads is "interupted" so to speak, therefore many claim the "tick" as their culprit for a motor failure...as you know, if there's not enough coolant flowing, then the motor runs hot, which can warp the internals (at least this is my understanding)...

chill--should have the quote to you today

ausie
08-03-2007, 08:06 AM
That is what I thought. Thanks for the response. That would also create valve train problems since the cams are nested in towers on top of the heads and if the expansion of the metals due to heat is not uniform that could load the cam assembly which is probably the cause for the tick. Since there are two fluids that are used to cool the engine (coolant being the obvious), the oil also aids in cooling and depending on its thermal properties could contribute to issues if breaks down esily. I have used racing oil in the past even thought the viscosity was listed as a 20w-50 (AMSOIL Series 2000 which has the same fluid characteristics of a thinner oil, I would not use any other brand in this grade since most are similar to elmers glue ). That oil worked very good but I had decided to change to Royal Purple 5w-40 since the Amsoil had a longer hang time. Changing to an oil that did not have a long hang time will improve the cooling effect of the oil. I started using the Amsoil 20w-50 in my 01 after having issues with Mobil 1 (developed a tick which was extremely loud, note: I do recall reading up on the the early 03 heads which were the same casting as the 01 heads but the issue with the 01 was more prone to detonation due to hot spots).

In my opinion, regardles which route you take (sounds like replacing the heads would be the best alternative) installing the cooling mod most have talked about would improve coolant flow that will eliminate issues associated poor coolant flow. Unfortunately, fluids take the path of least resistance since the flow of coolant passes up through the block and out through the heads, cylinders closer to the crossover tube will benefit where as the cylinders closer to the firewall will cook. I am uncertain if there is a coolant passage that sits under the plenum in the valley that is supposed to connect directly to the water pump and feeds the back side of the heads (which I believe is present in the pre-03 engines).

j2schill
08-07-2007, 11:24 PM
anyone out there living with this dreaded tick still???

520hemi
08-09-2007, 10:33 AM
my last tick cost me $ 7200.00 to get the bottom end rebuilt

ProfChaos
11-19-2007, 11:09 PM
I just bought a 2003 black cobra convertible (born 12/02) with 8300 miles. when i was orginally inspecting the car for purchase i did notice a tick at idle when i had the top down. My first thought was a exhaust leak since it had an aftermarket bassani system on it, and the private owner did the install. Soooooo maybe he didnt get a bolt torqued down all the way, and i left it at that without saying anything. I just recently have been trying to get the tick fixed and took it to a few auto places to diagnose the issue. Well it turns out it that the noise is comming from the valve train and echoing down the exhaust imitating an exhaust leak. The dreaded part is that im sure its outta warranty at only 10,500 miles. Questions/concers:
1. What should i do?
2. How much would it cost outta pocket for the dealership to address the problem - would they cut any kinda deal with it having such low miles
3. Ive heard that a few people have just been living with the tick and driving normal. any out there right now?
4. Does the motor have to come out of the car for this fix. @ the shop they thought it did
5. The sound is just buggin the sh*t outta me, and i wanna get it takin car of especially after just spending $27,000 w/tax on this car less than a month ago
6. I love the car but I almost feel like i should just sell it and take another chance, because i really dont feel like spending another $3000 to have a different head/s put on


If you have Bassani headers in the car's aftermarket exhaust, you might want to take the car to a high-performance exhaust shop and have them use a stethoscope or temperature probe to look for leaks around the "collector" section of the headers, the section where the four tubes are joined at the rear. I just found today that my $700 mid-length Bassani headers leak "to beat the Dickens," and there is an annoying ticking noise that sounds like a much worse problem than it actually is. The performance exhaust shop told me that this leaking/ticking problem is fairly common with Bassani headers that use the end-cap "collector", and that the leaks almost always occur where the collectors join the tubes. (When he showed me where the leaks were, I could feel the pulsing of the exhaust leaks by holding my palm near , and the leaks were fairly significant at both end-caps. Thus, I'm going to call Bassani Customer Service tomorrow, to see what they recommend for a fix.) BTW, I also get an error code of P0430, "Insufficient Catalyst"--perhaps because of all of the air gettting in at the header leaks near the front O-2 sensor ports.

cheers,
Professor Chaos
:D

COBRA_ESQ
11-20-2007, 08:54 AM
. You could inspect the dirvers head for a blob of blue paint that would indicate you have the revised heads. .
I have seen many discussions on the Blue Paint revised heads question and the general consensus is that it does not indicate a revised head

This is from Cobra Bob's 03/04 FAQ web page

http://www.stangshiftergaskets.com/2003_2004faqs.htm#_Toc35092316

This is a question that has been tossed around more than a mixed salad. The popular rumor is that the blue stripe means that the head was replaced by the dealer (or at the factory) to fix the tick issue. First, some facts. The tick issue can occur on any 2003 or 2004 Cobra, and also Mach 1s. The latest head, and the one that fixed the tick issue, wasn't released until 01/2005. Second, the blue stripe has appeared on 2003 and 2004 Cobras/Mach 1s from the factory. It has appeared on both the driver side and passenger side heads. So it has no correlation to the fix issue that we're are definitely aware of. However, since some 2004 Cobras have reported to have 9 spark plug threads (only head that is known to have 9 threads is the latest head), it is possible that the head part number is the latest head. This hasn't been proven yet.

As far as what the blue stripe means, JB from SVTPerformance.com belongs to a local Cobra club and they toured the factory a couple of years ago. This was the explanation given at the factory. "Assembly plants use just-in-time inventory, meaning parts are not stored up but are delivered daily. The paint markers provide a visual confirmation of when particular batches have been purged from the line. They show up on other Ford engines besides the '03/'04 Cobra. The bottom-line is that the blue stripe doesn't mean a head has been replaced by a dealer".


.

ProfChaos
11-20-2007, 11:16 PM
If you have Bassani headers in the car's aftermarket exhaust, you might want to take the car to a high-performance exhaust shop and have them use a stethoscope or temperature probe to look for leaks around the "collector" section of the headers, the section where the four tubes are joined at the rear. I just found today that my $700 mid-length Bassani headers leak "to beat the Dickens," and there is an annoying ticking noise that sounds like a much worse problem than it actually is. The performance exhaust shop told me that this leaking/ticking problem is fairly common with Bassani headers that use the end-cap "collector", and that the leaks almost always occur where the collectors join the tubes. (When he showed me where the leaks were, I could feel the pulsing of the exhaust leaks by holding my palm near , and the leaks were fairly significant at both end-caps. Thus, I'm going to call Bassani Customer Service tomorrow, to see what they recommend for a fix.) BTW, I also get an error code of P0430, "Insufficient Catalyst"--perhaps because of all of the air gettting in at the header leaks near the front O-2 sensor ports.

cheers,
Professor Chaos
:D

As a follow-up to the above post, I should note that I now find myself in a "both/and" situtation: It turns-out that there were "both" header leaks "and" a ticking noise that--after the header leaks were repaired--can now be more specifically identified as coming from the passenger-side cylinder head. I took the ticking Cobra to an SVT Tech today, and his preliminary diagnosis is that it is probably a faulty lifter. Now that the header leaks are eliminated, the ticking noise sounds very much like a faulty lifter. I will know more on Monday, after the SVT Tech removes the valve cover and then inspects the lifters. (The good news is that the repair will likely only cost $400-$500 dollars, and that the engine isn't horked, as would likely be the case if the tick were much louder and were eminating from the top of the intake manifold. A loud--this can't be a good sign kind-of-ticking--eminating from the top of the intake manifold is an almost-sure sign that the bottom of the engine has serious problems. I discovered that sad fact last year, right before I went through the faisco of locating a replacement Cobra engine.)

I should also note that my Cobra engine is a low-mileage '96 engine (~60K), and it is thus not subject to the '03-'04 Cobra engine's notorious tick. (See the posting above).

cheers,
--Professor Chaos

cobrachris
11-21-2007, 01:52 AM
There was a recall on the driver's side head on early 03 Cobra's. Is that where the noise is coming from? Does the driver side head have blue dye on it? If it does, recall has been done. The injectors do have an ominous sounding loud tick to them as well and it might be throwing an inexperienced tech off. I know Ford doesn't technically have SVT dealerships anymore, but try to find a local Ford dealership locally that sells or has sold a lot of SVT cars and a good mechanic might have better insight. Best of luck.