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1997 Ford Thunderbird LX
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
97' Tbird 4.6L

I've tried researching the issue, but nothing i've read on here seems to be identical to my issue.

The engine ticks noticably when im stopped, or in neutral idling. Its about as loud as a wind up clock. Seems to be coming from the rear of the engine.... No loss of performance, no CEL, no codes stored, no drivability issues, no funny smells, fuel economy is normal, oil consumption is basically non-existent, coolant level is where its supposed to be.. Just, an annoying ticking sound.

Recently I had the car in for new catalytic converters, and despite trying to fish for issues (as shops love to do...) there was no mention of the ticking noise on the suggested repairs sheet.

* solved *
Sound was due to a spark plug not being tightened right which let just enough pressure escape that the boot began to back out causing the noise mentioned. If experiencing a similar issue check your plugs/boots.
 

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1997 Thunderbird LX
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Was the ticking there or did you notice it before the new converters were installed?

Joe
 

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I get a ticking on my 97 that comes and goes, very random. Hadn't done it in months, then I heard it the other day now that it's colder. It did it when the car only had 62k, now has 87k.

Same symptoms as the OP, it's only loud enough to hear when idling. I noticed it does it after going WOT, then stopping. My money is on the valve lash adjusters as mentioned, or something in the top end.

I use 5W-30 Motorcraft semi-synthetic and 820S, but the PO used whatever brand the shop used, very random. I have all his records, he did maintain it well.

Al
 

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1991 Mercury Cougar LS 5.0 in restoration
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614 Posts
I'd run some seafoam through it. See if that breaks any"sticking". Also heard of running atf for a few miles. I've never tried that, but I think others have here.

After that switch to Amsoil. Great cleaning properties.
 

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I'm not an expert, but might you be hearing the normal ticking sound the fuel injectors make on these engines? My '97 Sport has only 65K, is maintained regularly, and only uses Motorcraft semi-synthetic oil and the 820S filter...but I have sharp hearing and can pick out the injectors ticking along at idle.
 

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1997 Ford Thunderbird LX
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39 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Probably sticking lash adjusters. Can you tell if it’s coming from the top or bottom of the engine? (Bottom is bad)
I think it's the bottom rear. If you open the door you hear it pretty well. It also gets faster if you tap the gas
 

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1994 Cougar XR7 DOHC/5-Speed
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I think it's the bottom rear. If you open the door you hear it pretty well. It also gets faster if you tap the gas
I don’t want to be alarmist, but you might want to pull your oil filter and check for metal, it’s not certainty but I’ve had rod bearings go bad on two engines and it’s always the rear ones with noise most audible from underneath.

Could also be loose TC bolts, has it ever been replaced?
 

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1997 Ford Thunderbird LX
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Discussion Starter #9
I don’t want to be alarmist, but you might want to pull your oil filter and check for metal, it’s not certainty but I’ve had rod bearings go bad on two engines and it’s always the rear ones with noise most audible from underneath.

Could also be loose TC bolts, has it ever been replaced?
Not that im aware of. I'll post a video to YouTube shortly so you can hear it. After getting under the car and listening im wondering if somethings loose... Like a heat shield. My old tahoe had that issue
 

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1997 Ford Thunderbird LX
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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
I don’t want to be alarmist, but you might want to pull your oil filter and check for metal, it’s not certainty but I’ve had rod bearings go bad on two engines and it’s always the rear ones with noise most audible from underneath.

Could also be loose TC bolts, has it ever been replaced?

Here's a video clip

Its weird.. No oil leak, no messed up fuel economy, no codes, no nothing.... The shop that put the cats on said they'll look Monday morning
 

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You're probably hearing the injectors clicking. It bugged me when I got my first Cougar.
 
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1997 Ford Thunderbird LX
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Discussion Starter #14
That’s too loud and low to be injectors but it also seems a bit too rapid to be a rod knock at idle speed(though I still won’t rule it out).
I compared it to a few videos of the issue you suggested and they seem alot more like a straight up click. Like metal on metal, pretty defined.I guess mine sounds closer to an exhaust leak but i dont think thats what it is.

I had a ticking in my 96. Made a couple posts about it. Posted a couple vids. Its usually just the lash adjusters. Itll be fine.
I'll look into lash adjusters as well
 

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I guess mine sounds closer to an exhaust leak but i dont think thats what it is.
I asked this earlier in Post #3, but was this there before you had the exhaust work done?

Joe
 

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Discussion Starter #16
I asked this earlier in Post #3, but was this there before you had the exhaust work done?

Joe
I dont recall noticing it prior. I contacted the shop to see if monday they can take a look. Maybe a weld is failing?
 

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1997 Ford Thunderbird LX
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Discussion Starter #17
OKAY.....

so, i was starting to feel engine vibrations again, but i just did motor mounts a few weeks ago.. They looked fine... And then i heard this sound again, and FOUND IT....... Its a spark plug....

Cylinder 8 (i think.. Pass side, very last) is backing the boot out somewhat.. It doesn't pop off completely, but enough that when i press it back in this mystery sound goes away..

Seems to be a new issue for the forum....

Suggestions? My ignition wires seem very old. I put all new spark plugs in when i got the car in March of this year. Maybe i didnt tighten it all the way and its causing back pressure?
 

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1997 Ford Thunderbird LX
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Discussion Starter #18
Alright, plug tightened, boot re-attached properly, seems to have solved the issue.

Added the solution in the original post text for anyone experiencing similar noises
 
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