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2001 330Ci 143k
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Hello, So I drive a 330ci approx. 145k and of late have noticed a strange ticking coming from the engine bay while driving. The noise comes and goes with various levels of volume. It sometimes does come right away when starting the vehicle but usually comes after driving for a minute or two. I hear it when stopped but the ticking gets faster and slower with rpms and usually becomes unnoticeable around 3000 rpm. Any ideas on what could be causing this? A friend told me I may just need to make sure all valves are tightened properly but haven't looked yet. I liked a video below to hear the noise and maybe get a better idea.
New video by Michael Gray

Background: Oil changed recently (like 1000 miles ago, Castrol GTX full synthetic 5w-30.) Previous temp issue but has since put in new radiator and hoses (probably not related but figured may help)
 

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2001 325i Sedan
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988 Posts
Assuming its coming from the top of the engine, most likely a few worn and/or sticky tappets. A not-uncommon problem on these cars, and not a huge deal to correct. Could also be a worn VANOS, which should be rebuilt at the same time.
 

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The serpentine belt can make a ticking sound that varies with engine speed. I have to ask the Stupid Question, but have you bothered to raise the hood while the engine is running to try to figure out where the noise is coming from?
 

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M54 330i
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676 Posts
YES YOU NEED OIL.

That ticking sound happens when your oil is dangerously low. Check your oil!!

Back when I first got my car, I started hearing that ticking sound. I was worried. After adding oil at the recommendation of a shop, the ticking went away. After that I noticed the ticking sound in other cars and was able to identify they needed oil because it was the same sound.
 

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2016 340i xD 6-spd
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Oil could be it...but if it is, you should have been getting a warning--or got one and ignored it. The oil level sensor should have come on, if even to just warn you that it's failed.

But, use a stethoscope or a hose (I use flexible electrical conduit--it's stiff, sound isolating, and cheap) to isolate the source of the sound...and that might get you closer. But check your oil level when cold on level ground.

When I heard my clicking years ago it was because my ccv vent tube had cracked, so the sounds were attenuated.
 

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have you checked your oil level? Oil service 1000 miles ago? I would have dropped 2 litres of oil in at least by now...
Hello, So I drive a 330ci approx. 145k and of late have noticed a strange ticking coming from the engine bay while driving. The noise comes and goes with various levels of volume. It sometimes does come right away when starting the vehicle but usually comes after driving for a minute or two. I hear it when stopped but the ticking gets faster and slower with rpms and usually becomes unnoticeable around 3000 rpm. Any ideas on what could be causing this? A friend told me I may just need to make sure all valves are tightened properly but haven't looked yet. I liked a video below to hear the noise and maybe get a better idea.
New video by Michael Gray

Background: Oil changed recently (like 1000 miles ago, Castrol GTX full synthetic 5w-30.) Previous temp issue but has since put in new radiator and hoses (probably not related but figured may help)
Your friend has never had any experience with E46s I think. There is nothing you can do to make sure the valves are "tightened properly".
I don't mean to be mean but sounds like he hasn't worked on a car engine since the 1960s.

Anyway, it sounds to me like lifter tick. Dry lifters. They are supposed to be full of oil supplied under pressure by the oil pump.

This means that you have to have the right amount of CLEAN oil in your sump along with a CLEAN oil filter so that the oil can
get to the lifters. So that's te first thing.

But even if you were to give it an oil and filter change now that may not cure the problem immediately because the lifters may
be gummed up with gungy oil residue. So you will need to add some kind of cleaning additive to your oil to degunge the lifters
and the rest of the engine too.

So what I suggest is to first of all check your oil level and make sure it is topped up. Suggest you change the oil filter too.
Then add a treatment of something like SeaFoam to your oil and run it around for a couple of hundred miles. That should
help clean up any gunge around the lifters.

Then, after the 200 miles, do a full oil and filter change and perform the BMW lifter bleeding procedure below:

 

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2003 325i (M54B30 swap), 1995 Harley FXSTS
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Sounds best/pulley related to me. If it were me I would pull the fan and the belts off the engine one morning and start her up and let her run for a minute or so (not too long obviously). If the noise is gone, you know it’s pulleys/belts, and I’d just pull everything and replace bc it’s cheap and important. If it isn’t, check your oil level and type - but assuming that’s right you probably just have some really noisy lifters. If you drive your car gently (under 3k for example) all the time, those lifters can get really really noisy.
 

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M54 330i
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Oil could be it...but if it is, you should have been getting a warning--or got one and ignored it. The oil level sensor should have come on, if even to just warn you that it's failed.

But, use a stethoscope or a hose (I use flexible electrical conduit--it's stiff, sound isolating, and cheap) to isolate the source of the sound...and that might get you closer. But check your oil level when cold on level ground.

When I heard my clicking years ago it was because my ccv vent tube had cracked, so the sounds were attenuated.
When I had the ticking due to low oil as I mentioned above, I did not have the oil light. Why? Because my oil sensor was bad - another common problem. Eventually I got that replaced, but it wasn't cheap. (I think the repair cost about $100 just for the part.)

Like @BigBopper said, it's probably due to dry lifters that should be covered with oil, but your oil is dangerously low. Check your oil!! If it's low, add more immediately. Update us here your result or if there is still a ticking sound after checking and refilling the oil to the proper level.
 
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