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There have been complaints that some Ford vehicles equipped with a 4.6L 3-valve or 5.4L 3-valve engine may exhibit a ticking and/or knocking noise after reaching normal operating temperature. The noise may be described as “ticks,” “taps,” “knocks” or “thumps.” in some cases the noise may be a normal characteristic of these engines. In other cases the noise may require further investigation. Sorting out and defining the noise as reported by the customer is important to successfully diagnose and/or repair the condition.

59079f15054ljpg_00000021867Before starting diagnosis, it is critical to determine the specific engine noise the customer is concerned with, The customer should be interviewed to get their detailed description of the noise, and to determine if the noise occurs at idle or above idle speed, and if the engine is cold, hot or both. Attempt to duplicate the noise, and determine the source of the symptom. Refer installers to the following Service Procedure to help determine the source of the noise and if a repair is needed. The 4.6L 3V and 5.4L 3V engines are installed in several vehicle platforms, which may influence the intensity of noise due to vehicle differences in sound transmission paths, hood and body insulation packages, and root cause of the component(s) causing the noise. PRE-CHECKS 1. Make sure you have a detailed description of the noise the customer is concerned with, including whether the noise is occurring at idie or above idle speed (does it disappear above 1,200 rpm), and if the engine is cold, hot or both when the noise is occurring. These engines generate a lot of “normal” noises, so it is critical to confirm the noise the customer is concerned with. 2. Determine what environment the customer is in when the noise is most noticeable to them (inside passenger compartment, next to building with/without the driver and/or passenger window open, or beside the wheel well). Validate by using your own perception. 3. Compare the noise generated with a new vehicle, if available, with an ENGINE build date of 3/30/2005 or later on Mustang and 4/18/2005 or later on F-150 to F-350, Expedition and Navigator vehicles. if the noise is the same, the noise is normal and would be a characteristic of the vehicle. Do not contiue with this bulletin. 4. Diagnose noise when engine is at normal operating temperature (Oil at 160° F, 71° C or above). Verify oil temperature by using a diagnostic scan tool and monitoring the engine oil temperature (EOT) PID. 5. Check the type of oil filter installed on the vehicle. A dirty or clogged filter may cause a pressure drop. Look for aftermarket brands not recognized in the market or a production filter that has gone beyond the standard Ford recommended change interval. 6. Check for signs of oil brand used and viscosity (interview customer if needed), Motorcraft SAE 5W-20 Premium Synthetic Blend Motor Oil or equivalent is recommended. Once the above pre-checks are complete, check for sound level from the following components, in the order listed. Compare the sound from these components to the noise the customer is concerned with, to determine the source of the noise. INJECTION / FUEL SYSTEM Injector noise (ticking) is considered normal. Noise increases wilh rpm hot or cold and is recognized at the top of the engine. VALVE TRAIN Lash adjusters can make a tickingltapping noise noticeable at any engine rpm/temperature and is audible through the wheel well or an open hood. However, with the hood down, lash adjuster noise can be heard as a light tapping noise through the wheel well and is considered normal. Tracing this noise must be isolated to a cylinder bank. If one bank is louder than the other bank, focus the diagnostic to the loud bank. If both banks seem loud with the hood down, compare wheel well sound level to one another and work on the loudest bank. Use a stethoscope on the top of the cam cover bolt heads to confirm which bank is affected. Move the probe from front to rear if necessary. If isolated to a specific bank replace all the lifters, intake and exhaust, only on the affected cylinder bank. If the noise can not be isolated to a specific bank, then in the majority of situations this would not be a lifter related noise. VARIABLE CAM TIMING The 4.6L 3V and 5.4L 3V variable cam timing (VCT) feature may emit a light knock in normal operation and is audible only at idle speed, with a hot engine (gear selector in parktneutral). However, it may be masked by or mistaken for other noises generated from either injector firing or a malfunctioning valve train as described above. The noise does not affect performance or durability of the part. VCT phasers may knock at hot idle. it may be heard inside the passenger compartment, or the wheel well area. Some light noise is normal. The engine may require a cold soak overnight for a full diagnosis to effectively be made at hot idle, particularly when a VCT phaser is suspected. The knock is not prevalent at cold temperature. To test for VCT noise: 1. Place the transmission in park or neutral. 2. Bring engine oil temperature to 160°F (71° C) or above as indicated by the scan tool “EOT” PID. 3. Allow engine to idle, and determine if noise is noticeable. 4. Set engine speed to over 1,200 rpm (if noise is a VCT knock, the noise should disappear). 5. Return engine speed to idle (verily knock returns). If the noise intensity is more than a lightly audible knock at hot idle under 1,200 rpm at engine operating temperature, replace the cam phaser using the camshaft “In-Vehicle Repair” procedure found In the Workshop Manual. If the noise is only a lighly audible knock at hot idle under 1,200 rpm, do not attempt to repair this normal engine noise. STARTUP RATTLE Some 2004 F150 and 2005 F150, Expedition, Navigator, Super Duty, and Mustang vehicles may have a rattle on startup that lasts 1 to 3 seconds. If initial pre-checks have been completed and the noise sounds like it is coming from the front of the engine, replace the VCT phaser (3R2Z-6A257-DA kit). If the engine continues to make the rattle noise after the initial startup, check for other possible areas.   Some or all of this information was provided by the Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association (APRA). For more information on technical bulletins available through APRA call 703-968-2772 or visit

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  • Liz

    Mine was crack in manifold and thought was a lifter

  • Mukluk

    I have a 2007 ford explorer limited with V8. Been making a knocking sound on cold startup for months. Discovered a cracked manifold as well.

  • Wirres

    Hi like to know if I could get some information. I have a 2007 f 150 5.4 removed cam cap scored, cam pitted and scored. I am thinking of swopping out with 4.6 my question is will the 4.6 fit with trans, mounts, exhaust. I do know that the ECM will need to be changed. Will I need to replace harness, just the cost of 5.4 and fuel economy would this be a good fit. The cost of the heads are nuts for 5.4 I can get a 4.6 for half the price with 78,000 km

  • scoot rock

    been hearing a ticking sound here. what manifold are you referring to? sorry a bit of a shade tree mechanic here

  • scoot rock

    what manifold was cracked?

  • bob

    I am hearing a knock only when engine is worm I am missing one exhaust manifold bolt on passenger side also leaks water from some ware in that area above motermount any ideas

  • Tim

    I have a 2007 Ford Explorer with 104,000 miles. Cold Michigan winters. Had oil changed Dec.12. Since then, only at start up, knocking noise for about 10 seconds, then quiets right down. Discovered that oil change included 5w-30. On Jan. 20 replaced it with correct viscosity 5w-20. Knocking still present. Could this noise be the exhaust manifold? Or possibly a hydraulic valve lifer out of adjustment? Or something more ominous?



  • Juan

    2008 expediti on has taping noise from right sidE valve train lack hydraulic lifters the you the problem

  • Withheld

    Brought the ticking 06 f250 in under warranty and was told it was normal. Warranty is up and so is the engine. Total failure. Damn those cam phasers. Damn Ford for knowing the ticking phasers causes catastrophic engine failure. Damn the $12,000 they want to put an engine in. I may lose my house because no truck no work. Damn Ford Canada for basically saying to bad so sad. While I’m at it Damn them for their cracked manifolds.

  • Lee Tubeszewski

    im having a nock when acetate i use some octane booster which helps stop the knock

  • james

    2004 ford 150 fx4 5.4 3valve 160,000 ticking sound on passenger side found cause because my son didnt adderess the problem , cracked exhaust manifold after we took the head off them we found the real problem push rod wore the rocker out and failed causeing it to bend a valve and break , he had been hearing that sound for like 5 months before it failed , it caused the head to not be rebuildable good thing is it didnt damage the cylinder or piston but it did put some small dents in the top of the piston

  • Kevin B

    My 2007 f-150 4.6 lifters are chattering pretty loud when cold or hot, is alot worse when warmed up though, has a low idle miss and seems pretty sluggish . Just bought it yesterday for a low price. Any advice?