How to Fix Subaru Valve Tick: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re a Subaru car owner, you might be familiar with the annoying sound of your engine tick. This ticking noise could make you anxious and concerned about the health of your car’s engine. However, don’t worry, it’s a common issue that most Subaru owners face at some point in their ownership. Ignoring the situation could lead to severe engine damage, so it’s better to address the problem early on.

This article will focus on the causes, symptoms, and ways to quiet down your Subaru valve tick. You’ll find a simple guide and learn how to maintain your engine health to prevent this problem in the future.

What Causes Valve Tick in Subaru Cars?

Valve tick occurs when the hydraulic lifters and other engine components wear out or become loose. The rapid opening and closing of the valves create a ticking sound, which gets amplified with the engine’s vibration.

Some common causes of valve tick in Subaru cars include:

  • Low engine oil pressure
  • Low or dirty oil
  • Incorrectly adjusted valve clearance
  • Worn valve guides or rocker arms
  • Faulty hydraulic lifters
  • Broken valve springs
  • Damaged camshaft
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Symptoms of Valve Tick in Subaru Cars

Valve tick has a distinct sound that can be heard from the engine compartment when the engine’s running. The sound is louder when the engine is cold and gradually fades when the engine warms up. Here are some symptoms that suggest your Subaru might have a valve tick issue:

  • Ticking noise from engine ticking noise that persists even after the engine has warmed up
  • Low oil pressure indicator light on the dashboard
  • Engine sluggishness or poor performance.

How to Quiet Down Valve Tick in Subaru Cars

The good news is, you can quiet down valve tick in Subaru cars by following these simple steps:

Step 1: Check the Oil Level and Quality

The first step is ensuring that your engine has enough clean oil to lubricate the engine components to prevent any ticking sounds. Check the oil level using the dipstick and make sure it’s at the correct level. If it’s low, add the recommended oil type as stated in your car’s owner’s manual.

It’s also good practice to change the oil and filter every 5,000-7,000 miles. A dirty oil filter and low-quality oil can cause engine ticking and lead to costly repairs.

Step 2: Adjust the Valve Clearance

The second step is to adjust the valve clearance, which is the space between the valve stem and the rocker arm. An incorrect valve clearance can cause ticking sounds. Refer to your car’s owner manual for the valve clearance specification and follow these steps:

  1. Remove the valve cover and locate the valves that need to be adjusted.
  2. Loosen the lock nut and adjust the clearance using a feeler gauge.
  3. Tighten the lock nut and recheck the clearance.
  4. Finally, replace the valve cover making sure it’s securely fastened.
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Step 3: Replace Worn Components

If the valve tick persists, it’s time to inspect the engine components. Worn valve guides, rocker arms or broken valve springs may cause ticking sounds. You may need to replace any components that need replacement, whether it’s the lifters, camshaft, or hydraulic lash adjusters. If you don’t know how to do it, consider a professional mechanic to handle the job.

Step 4: Upgrade the Engine

Lastly, if you’re looking for a long-term and permanent solution, consider upgrading your engine components. Installing a high-quality performance camshaft and rev kit or upgrading your hydraulic lifters could reduce engine ticking significantly.

Tips for Maintaining Your Subaru’s Engine Health

Keeping your Subaru’s engine in good health is crucial to avoid engine ticking and other costly repairs. Here are some tips to ensure your engine stays healthy:

  • Change oil and oil filter routinely
  • Use high-quality engine oil and fuel additives to decrease friction and reduce wear and tear
  • Check your engine air filter regularly and replace it when it’s dirty to maintain optimum air circulation
  • Get a professional mechanic to inspect your engine regularly to detect issues early on


How long can I drive with valve tick in my Subaru?

It’s best to address the issue early on since valve tick can cause severe engine damage. If you continue driving with ticking sounds, it could lead to costly repairs.

Will valve tick harm my engine’s performance?

Yes. Ticking sounds are often indicative of serious problems, and if left unchecked, they may lead to a reduction in your engine’s performance and even complete failure.

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How much does it cost to fix valve tick in Subaru cars?

The cost of fixing engine ticking varies. Simple repairs like changing the oil and replacing the filter could cost about $50-$100, while complicated repairs like replacing the hydraulic lifters could go up to $700-$1000.

Can I use a thicker oil to fix the ticking sound?

Using a thicker oil is not a permanent solution to fix valve tick. It could affect your car’s performance and may clog the oil passages leading to costly engine damage in the long run. Always refer to your car’s owner manual for the recommended oil thickness and quality.

Final Words

Valve tick can put a damper on your Subaru driving experience, but it’s possible to fix it. You can either follow the steps discussed, upgrade your engine components, or seek advice from a professional mechanic. Additionally, taking preventative measures to maintain your engine health could save you from costly repairs caused by ticking sounds. Remember to act on engine ticking as soon as possible; the longer you wait, the more expensive and complicated the repairs would be.

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Peter Banks

With years of experience as a professional mechanic and Subaru specialist, Peter is one of the most respected members of our team. He's written several articles on Subaru maintenance and repair, and his advice and tips are always practical and helpful. When he's not working on cars, he enjoys cooking and trying out new recipes.

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