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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When starting the engine from cold, there is a clear and distinct, rhythmic ticking noise which is coming from the left side of the engine compartment. Sounds like a ticking valve lifter on the left cylinder bank. This goes away after a short drive. I am guessing one of the hydraulic lifters is noisy until the oil pressure and temperatures are high enough to make it go away. So far this only occurs on the first cold start. I always give the engine sufficient time to warm up before any spirited driving.

Should I be concerned or is this something normal for this flat four turbo?
 

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Yes, they do that sometimes. This has been discussed a zillion times, sometimes argumentatively. Dealers say it is injector noise. Some here argue loudly that it can't possibly be injector noise and Porsche is hiding something and the engine will soon self-destruct and they are embarrassed to be sitting at a stoplight beside someone who will obviously think something is seriously wrong with their cars. Some even have measured data to prove that it is valve noise.

I tend to believe it is injector noise. It will go away or you will become so used to it that you don't notice.
 
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after seeing more detailed images of the 4.0 - flat six I think the sound / noises people hear are the high pressure injection pumps (direct injection engines use this setup)

there's one on each bank and they are mechanical pumps driven off a lobe on the (intake) camshaft - it would be activating the pump with each revolution of the cam, which will be 1/2 speed the crankshaft rotation is

the 2.0 / 2.5 flat 4 will also have the high pressure DI pumps as well
 

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Which engine?
I know my base 2.0T does it from time to time. It sounds awful but I've read so many people complaining about it.
So I figured, it's probably perfectly normal.
 

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My 2.0 does, or at least did, that. I can't say I notice it now, at least that I remember. Maybe it stopped. I stopped worrying about it.
 

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This is a common concern and I’m not sure there has been a consensus. Here are the results of some threads that I recall:
1-Are all your family members accounted for? Some people get adventurous when exploring a new car and can get trapped.
2-Most of these cars have this noise, and you should only worry if yours does not.
3-Do you also hear this ticking in your bedroom late at night, maybe time to switch your bedtime reading.
4-The engine is behind you, and unlike other car configurations, you are hearing noises that are typically drowned out or muffled by firewall. Pop the hood of a front engine car and you will be surprised at the racket.
Sorry this doesn’t help…but maybe haha?
 

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My base 2020 Cayman does it. I mentioned it to the Service person on its first service. It appears to be random...some days it does it on the first start ( cold ) and some days it doesn't. It goes away after about 2-3k's of normal driving.

I'm almost convinced it is a noisy hydraulic lifter, that the oil has drained out of, and for reasons I don't understand, it takes a little while for the oil to get back in an shut the thing up. I'm due for my second service soon, and was going to ask Porsche if going to 5W-40 oil would help. My theory beng it would not drain out as fast. I'm going to make sure that the Service Adsvisor makes a note on the system of my complaint...just in case. But..I've not heard of anyone having any engine problems...yet. Does a noisy lifter ( apart from making the horrible tapping noise ) do any long term damage while it is tapping away ?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
My base 2020 Cayman does it. I mentioned it to the Service person on its first service. It appears to be random...some days it does it on the first start ( cold ) and some days it doesn't. It goes away after about 2-3k's of normal driving.

I'm almost convinced it is a noisy hydraulic lifter, that the oil has drained out of, and for reasons I don't understand, it takes a little while for the oil to get back in an shut the thing up. I'm due for my second service soon, and was going to ask Porsche if going to 5W-40 oil would help. My theory beng it would not drain out as fast. I'm going to make sure that the Service Adsvisor makes a note on the system of my complaint...just in case. But..I've not heard of anyone having any engine problems...yet. Does a noisy lifter ( apart from making the horrible tapping noise ) do any long term damage while it is tapping away ?
Your thoughts on this reflect mine. I think it is a noisy lifter. As far as it causing any damage I would think that as long as you give the engine a few moments to idle and then drive easy until everything is up to temperature it probably is not a problem. On the other hand, I would think that a properly functioning lubrication system should get the oil and oil pressure to the point where the hydraulic lifters are quiet within a few moments of the engine starting. Having said this, it seems this is the nature of the beast with the four cylinder turbo engines based on the few responses here.

Maybe others will chime in with additional information?
 

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Another thing that comes to mind is piston slap. Not unusual with forged pistons during warmup back in the old days. But I don't know if that is still a thing anymore.
 

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That ticking noise does not correlate to a cold engine. I used to hear it sometimes after driving for half an hour or more. Also oil pressure would build up immediately when an engine is started, so hydraulic lifters filling up too slowly is not going to happen. An insufficiently filled lifter wouldn't lift very well anyway. However it will not cause any damage, but merely cause a small loss of power.

I think @JFAtlanta nailed it. You have a family member stuck in the engine, probably sucked into an air intake. Porsche clearly denies any knowledge of it because they don't want to acknowledge that the engine could in fact suck up family members through the anti-cigarette screens. They are too lazy to fix insignificant details like that. If it causes the engine to blow up after 40,000 miles it's no loss to them. They never get all the details right, and certainly never tell their techs the real story of how their engines work.
 

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My theory, and it is no one else's theory but mine, because ... it is mine, is that if the oil gets cold while hanging about not being used, that it needs a few minutes of running to become less dense and more fluid and effective coating the rockers. Until everything is coated by oil significantly then there is a little noise. While I hear this noise first thing much of the time when I first run the engine, I don't think I hear it later if I turn the engine off and start it again. So I think there are time and temperature factors in my diagnosis combined with the use of the motor.
 

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Yep...same here. It has never happened when the engine was warm. It always goes away after about 2-3k's of driving.
One time I only had to move the car a few meters. It made the noise. When I started it a few days later, the noise was still there. It stopped after a few kms. Sitting idle for a few days does not make it go away. So to me, it seems like a lubrication issue as well.
 

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To understand why hydraulic lifters can tick you should bear in mind how these lifters are designed and how they work.

Each hydraulic lifter is a small piston cylinder unit filled with motor oil through a check valve by the force of a coil spring inside. When the assigned inlet or outlet valve is closed, this coil spring expands the unit until the basic diameter of the camshaft is contacted, thus any valve clearance is eliminated.

If an inlet or outlet valve opens, the check valve is closed and the assigned hydraulic lifter becomes a solid part by the included motor oil. But still a very small amount of oil flows along the annular space between piston and cylinder of the lifter. This small leakage is absolutely required to avoid a pressure increase, which could keep the attached inlet/outlet valve a little bit open all the time (resulting in loss of power and severe engine damages).

Now have a look on a 4-stroke engine. A little bit simplified, inlet valve is opened during intake stroke, outlet valve is open during outlet stroke. Both valves are closed during compression and combustion stroke. That means : One quarter of all valves is always opened, even if the engine is shut off.

If the engine is stopped, the strong coil springs designed to close inlet/outlet valves are still active and compress hydraulic lifters of opened valves while hot (low viscous) oil escapes along the annular spaces of these lifters.

If the cooled down engine is started again, the clearance of the former opened valves has been initially increased and it could take some time, until the assigned lifters are refilled with oil through their check valves - particularly if the motor oil has become cold and has high viscosity.
This increased clearance could be audible as "valve ticking", is absolutely normal and should disappear after a short period of time.

It is strictly to distinguish from the well known idle speed ticking, which does not diappear but even increase with a warmed up engine.

Anyway - I would be very gratedul if somebody posts a soundfile of the initial ticking described in this thread to compare the noise frequency with the frequency of the idle speed ticking.
 

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What h_4712 said. This will happen from time to time. Don't change oil viscosity over this. The tolerances literally everywhere in your engine are designed around a certain viscosity range, and changing it to eliminate this sound will only put other parts at risk elsewhere during cold starts. My Boxster S does this from time to time if has been sitting a more than a week (inevitable), it goes away after a little warm up (as it should), and it's perfectly fine. The only worry would be if it does not go away after a warm up, in which case the sound is either not a valve lifter at all or is a deeper issue that should be evaluated and documented by Porsche.

My wife has a Miata with hydraulic lifters as her daily driver with over 200,000 miles; cold starts have a little lifter noise depending on how long it has been sitting since it last ran and how cold the engine got after it cooled. It is perfectly fine and runs as well as it did as a new car. Hydraulic lifters are a good thing, but they do operate using your oil as the variable input, and it is absolutely necessary that the oil can get out as well as in, hence a little noise now and then.
 

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Thanks h4712 for that more in depth explanation.

It does make sense. I don't use my Cayman everyday, and it sometimes can sit for two days...which, if I am remembering correctly, is when I usually hear the lifter noise. I was thinking about going from 0W-40 to 5W-40 oil ( it never gets really cold here. We have jsut had a cold spell where it got to 4C overnight ), but thinking about it, that may simply then see it take longer for the ticking to go away after a cold start ? Porsche approve either viscosity for the car, but recommend the 0W-40 for colder climates. After near two years of the odd ticking on start up, I'm getting used to it.

Does having an opposed engine exacerbate the oil drainage out of the lifters ?
 
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