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The LS1's legendary cold start tick

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Old 07-07-2006, 01:28 PM   #1
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Default The LS1's legendary cold start tick

I've never seen any numbers, but quite a few LS1 engines have cold start tick noises attributable to dirty lifters, leaky exhaust manifolds, fuel injectors, oil pumps, air pumps, and piston slap. Correcting piston slap, if that's desired, is an expensive proposition, while the other problems can be repaired for much less cost.

Excepting piston slap, which arguably has been explained by GM, why is it that these problems - and the tick noise, show up on a great engine like the LS1? Is it design risk for the sake of performance? Or materials of production? Quality control?

The popular feeling seems to be that most LS1 tick noises are inherent, and just accept them. But other great engines, like Cadillac's Northstar, don't seem to have similar problems. Granted the Northstar is highly complex and more expensive than the LS1, but still, why the difference between the two, at least regarding the presence (or lack thereof) of tick noises?

I don't mean to start a war by making comparisons with other engines, but the above subject seems to have had a great deal of discussion in all of the Camaro, LS1, anf F-body forums - but not much resolution.

What do you guys think?

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Old 07-07-2006, 01:38 PM   #2
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If your engine ticks but works 100%, does it really matter?

The AIR pump is not an engine tick.

The oil pump? What on earth does it do??

I havn't heard any complaints about leaky exhaust manifolds.....
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Old 07-07-2006, 02:18 PM   #3
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If uncorrected, the tick can lead to wear, which requires part replacements. For instance, a faulty oil pump O ring seal can cause oil foaming, leading to engine and component parts wear - and ticking. A leaky exhaust manifold gasket, a bad thing by itself, also can make a tick noise. And the list goes on - a bad lifter effects performance in addition to driving one crazy with the noise. A bad air pump doesn't tick by itself, but it does effect emmissions quality, which can impact engine parts that eventually will make noises.
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Old 07-07-2006, 06:21 PM   #4
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I'm not sure I understand this thread?

For those LS1s that experiance cold start ticking in stock form, the only common issue is piston slap or the occasional noisey EVAP purge solenoid.

The other things you listed are not common causes of cold start ticking on stock LS1s. Some of them do occur, but usually due to installer error (post assembly line installs) or owner abuse/poor maintenence.

Now, if you are refering to the general "sewing machine" type of sound from the valvetrain during normal acceleration (nothing to do with cold start, and not really an all-out 'tick'), that just seems to be the nature of the LS1 valvetrain. After owning 3 LS1s ('98, '99, '00) I've noticed that the '98/'99 cars tend to have more pronounced valvetrain noise due to the difference in stock exhaust manifolds. The '98/'99 cars use a double-walled stainless steel design that is thinner than the cast iron manifolds of the '00+ cars. A friend tested this theroy on a '99 LS1 years back, and with no other changes besides swapping to '00+ iron manifolds, the valvetrain was noticeably quieter inside the cabin under acceleration. I assume that was one of the reasons why GM reverted back to cast iron manifolds for the '00+ cars, to lessen customer complaints of engine/vavletrain related noises.
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Old 07-07-2006, 06:29 PM   #5
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LS1's. Already history.
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Old 07-07-2006, 06:29 PM   #6
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I bitched to GM so much about the tick, after the whole run around I finally got all new internals. Guess what, it still ticks. Granted its no where near as bad as before, but it does come back and it sounds like ****. Ive learned to accept it. As long as this thing keeps bitch smackin mustang GTs Im happy.
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Old 07-08-2006, 04:36 PM   #7
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I would like to believe that those that follow or participate in the several forums that include the LS1 engine also take reasonable mechanical care of their vehicles. Perhaps that is wrong. However, research of these 5 or 6 forums, which I've carefully done, will reveal many, many comments about cold start or continuous ticking noises involving the LS1 engine. Most of the responses to these comments seem to fall into the catagory of "yeah, I've got the same tick noise in my car".

Now, are all these piston slap issues? Undoubtably, some are, and others are due to the problems mentioned in the above initial thread start. After all, there is a fine, decernable difference in noises, not always detected, between the heavier-sounding piston slap and the more common tick noise steming from the other types of problems. Yes, common. Because a lot of the forum comments indicated that the ticks were corrected by changing a lifter, an exhaust manifold gasket, or an oil pump O ring seal, etc.

Chevrolet issued TSB #02-06-01-038 in December, 2002, entitled "Engine Knock or Lifter Noise (Replace O-Ring)", and this was for a wide range of GM vehicles, including the Camaro LS1 AND LS6. The TSB statement indicated that the condition was likely to have existed since new. Y cars still under warranty were additionally treated with a replacement pick-up tube and screen.

So, what do we have here? My main point was to stimulate conversation about what technically accounts for the noise differences between two great aluminum block engines: The Chevrolet LS1, and the Cadillac Northstar. Any noise difference, whether common or not. The piston slap issue was already a given, so I was interested in the other tick noise problems, and was hopeful that it would be a good learning experience for all if some of the more technically knowledgable forum members chimed in.

Admitedly, a big part of my motivation for starting this thread was the fact that I have a 2002 LS1 Camaro with a cold start tick, and can't make up my mind whether to forget about it, like others, or to surrender my car to my local Chevy dealership for a fix.

That's it, guys. Any thoughts? And thanks, RPM WS6, for your comments, and hopefully my views are a little better understood.

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Old 07-08-2006, 11:42 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack M
I would like to believe that those that follow or participate in the several forums that include the LS1 engine also take reasonable mechanical care of their vehicles. Perhaps that is wrong. However, research of these 5 or 6 forums, which I've carefully done, will reveal many, many comments about cold start or continuous ticking noises involving the LS1 engine. Most of the responses to these comments seem to fall into the catagory of "yeah, I've got the same tick noise in my car".

Now, are all these piston slap issues? Undoubtably, some are, and others are due to the problems mentioned in the above initial thread start. After all, there is a fine, decernable difference in noises, not always detected, between the heavier-sounding piston slap and the more common tick noise steming from the other types of problems. Yes, common. Because a lot of the forum comments indicated that the ticks were corrected by changing a lifter, an exhaust manifold gasket, or an oil pump O ring seal, etc.

Chevrolet issued TSB #02-06-01-038 in December, 2002, entitled "Engine Knock or Lifter Noise (Replace O-Ring)", and this was for a wide range of GM vehicles, including the Camaro LS1 AND LS6. The TSB statement indicated that the condition was likely to have existed since new. Y cars still under warranty were additionally treated with a replacement pick-up tube and screen.

So, what do we have here? My main point was to stimulate conversation about what technically accounts for the noise differences between two great aluminum block engines: The Chevrolet LS1, and the Cadillac Northstar. Any noise difference, whether common or not. The piston slap issue was already a given, so I was interested in the other tick noise problems, and was hopeful that it would be a good learning experience for all if some of the more technically knowledgable forum members chimed in.

Admitedly, a big part of my motivation for starting this thread was the fact that I have a 2002 LS1 Camaro with a cold start tick, and can't make up my mind whether to forget about it, like others, or to surrender my car to my local Chevy dealership for a fix.

That's it, guys. Any thoughts? And thanks, RPM WS6, for your comments, and hopefully my views are a little better understood.

Best regards
Personally, all I can tell you is that I've never had any significant cold start ticking/slapping issues on any of my 3 LS1s. Actually they've never had any "ticking" issues at all (in stock form), just the sewing machine type sound from the valvetrain during acceleration (which I consider normal for the motor, since every one I've ever heard shares that sound).

My WS6 did have a noticeable 'tick', but not until after the installation of an aftermarket cam and valvetrain, so I could hardly blame GM for that.

Whether or not this is a serious issue for the LS1s.... well, for the most part my answer would be no. Piston slap can lead to issues in theroy, but many real world exmaples tell a different story with these motors. Plently of LS1 owners with well over 100K miles on motors with cold start piston slap since day one, yet the engine is still going strong.

LS1s are not the only GM motor with piston slap issues. Ever heard a GM 3.1L V6? It is the king of cold start piston slap, yet there are hundereds of thousands of these motors in mid-sized GMs that continue to run strong regardless of the issue.

As for the other conditions you've listed (lifters, O-rings), I have never experianced those issues on a stock LS1, and I've never known anyone else to either, so I can't speak on that. I have known some to develop lifter issues post heads/cam install, but in fairness, you can't fault GM for things that happen after you alter their design.

As for a Northstar to LS1 comparison, I don't think that's possibile. The LS1 was designed with performance/power as the primary consideration. That was not the case with the Northstar. Not to mention, you are comparing DOHC to OHV arrangements, which further distances these motors from a direct comparison.
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Old 07-09-2006, 12:42 AM   #9
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Ticking is normal for a performance valvetrain in any engine. If you don't like it install a smaller cam and very soft valvesprings.
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Old 07-09-2006, 03:45 PM   #10
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Thanks for the responses, guys. And particularly your insight, RPM WS6. One thing I failed to do in my researches was to keep track of the tick noise complaints from those who had modified their engines, and those that were still stock. But, from what you've experienced and heard about, the stock engine ticking other than cold start is in the minority, and not really a systemic type of problem with the LS1 engine.

And I now think that the ticking I have in my stock LS1 is probably just a tempory nuisance, going away after warm-up, and doesn't present any real wear problem to the engine. However, since you and others have not experienced a cold start tick, maybe I should have my car checked for some of the possibilities earlier mentioned.

Your statement that the LS1 was built mainly for performance was something that I knew, but had not fully grasped the total impacts of that. Naturally, when a performance engine is designed that leaves room for modifications, it's not going to be super tight and exacting like a Northstar engine, which was designed for modest 300 hp performance, but also for quietness. The quietness part probably accounts for most of the cost difference between the two engines. My choice of a comparison took into account only that the LS1 and Northstar were both great aluminum block engines, and not that there were two different design philosophies to achieve two somewhat different objectives.

Thanks for your comments. I think I'm much better off for having read them. And perhaps some of the other forum members have gained additional insight, as well.

Best regards.
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Old 07-09-2006, 05:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack M
Thanks for the responses, guys. And particularly your insight, RPM WS6. One thing I failed to do in my researches was to keep track of the tick noise complaints from those who had modified their engines, and those that were still stock. But, from what you've experienced and heard about, the stock engine ticking other than cold start is in the minority, and not really a systemic type of problem with the LS1 engine.

And I now think that the ticking I have in my stock LS1 is probably just a tempory nuisance, going away after warm-up, and doesn't present any real wear problem to the engine. However, since you and others have not experienced a cold start tick, maybe I should have my car checked for some of the possibilities earlier mentioned.

Your statement that the LS1 was built mainly for performance was something that I knew, but had not fully grasped the total impacts of that. Naturally, when a performance engine is designed that leaves room for modifications, it's not going to be super tight and exacting like a Northstar engine, which was designed for modest 300 hp performance, but also for quietness. The quietness part probably accounts for most of the cost difference between the two engines. My choice of a comparison took into account only that the LS1 and Northstar were both great aluminum block engines, and not that there were two different design philosophies to achieve two somewhat different objectives.

Thanks for your comments. I think I'm much better off for having read them. And perhaps some of the other forum members have gained additional insight, as well.

Best regards.
Always glad to help.

One thing to keep in mind, is that a "tick" (or any other noise for that matter) can and will be perceived differently by different people.

I've personally never had any serious cold start piston slap issues on any of my LS1s. Now, not to say that they've all been super quiet (not the case), but it's never been to the point where it concerned or bothered me. Usually, I am very picky about these things and I notice everything, so for me to be "OK" with it, would only be because I feel it's within normal operating parameters for an LS1.

Obviously since I'm not there to hear your car, I can't say how it compares to mine. But I can tell you that I've heard others produce significantly more noise than mine without any known reduction in engine life or power (some of these cars have dynoed well above average).

So long as the noise goes away with warm-up, it's likely the common LS1 cold-start piston slap and I wouldn't worry about it. Bent valves or pushrods, in my experiance, tend to be more quiet with a cold engine and tick louder as the motor warms up, so I don't think that's your issue.

As for any "ticking" type sounds you might hear during acceleration (with a warm motor), chances are that's just the normal LS1 valvetrain sewing maching sound which is perfectly normal. It will be more noticeable under increasing loads (like turing the A/C on). This noise is MUCH quieter than a bent valve/bent P-rod type sound (if you've ever heard that); I'd actually call it more of a mechanical pulsing than a tick/slap if that makes any sense. Every LS1 I've ever heard has this noise, but it's minor enough that many people don't even think twice about it and my not even realize it's there. Honestly, it's nothing to worry about, it's just the nature of the motor/valvetrain.

PS. The Northstar is a great engine, as is the LS1. And although they are both V8s with excellent performance, their primary goals are not the same.

Northstar = Quiet, smooth, DOHC arrangement with good power.

LS1 = Extremly powerful, affordable, OHV arrangement with an excellent blend of torque and horsepower from idle all the way to redline.
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Old 07-10-2006, 12:55 PM   #12
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guys wat is piston slap?and my ls1 has 110k miles and ticks but my case will be wearn out componets
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Old 07-11-2006, 02:39 PM   #13
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Below link (or post to browser) is to one of many documents/TSBs involving GM piston slap. It's aimed at certain GM vehicles other than those equiped with LS1 engines. While some LSI engine owners have filed complaints, and in some cases have received small cash or extended warranty offers from GM, the general feeling is that Camaros and Firebirds have not really been harmed by piston slap. This is evidenced by thousands upon thousands of driving miles without loss of performance or engine-related functioning, albeit the cold start noises.

GM also took a position on what they believe to be "acceptable" oil consumption - something like one quart over 2,000 miles.

110,000 miles without some sort of component wear - and ticking, would be unusual IMO.

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http://www.pistonslap.com/tsb/010601005.pdf
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Old 07-13-2006, 09:05 PM   #14
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Got that classic tick, I tryed different types of oil, even tried Lucas, guy at the Chevy Dealership said that the only way he has fixed the tick is by putting a VW oil filter on some of the 5.7s that have came through, what that does I dont know.
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Old 07-13-2006, 09:52 PM   #15
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vw oil filter?
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Old 07-13-2006, 09:57 PM   #16
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I've considered trying the long A/C Delco filter, and even putting in 6 or 6.5 quarts of oil as a lot of racers do because of the big LS1 pan. But the cold start tick comes from cold oil, not filter size or oil quantity.

One of the other forums suggested trying Chevron Techtron, which costs around $14. This is probably the same type additive most all refiners put in their gasoline, but this one is more concentrated and you put it in your tank when you're down to 10-12 gallons. If the tick is from carbon on the pistons (using low octane gas), it's supposed to help after 1-2 applications.

Don't know if a VW filter would help get rid of a tick. Does it have super filtration qualities that catches crappy stuff from the bottom of your pan, keeping it out of your lifters? If that's your condition, I'd drop your pan and clean it out - and change your oil, obviously.
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Old 07-14-2006, 09:46 AM   #17
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thanks, the VW oil filter struct me as weird to but I guess there the "experts", I'll check my oil pan and thanks again
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Old 07-14-2006, 12:34 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack M

One of the other forums suggested trying Chevron Techtron, which costs around $14. This is probably the same type additive most all refiners put in their gasoline, but this one is more concentrated and you put it in your tank when you're down to 10-12 gallons. If the tick is from carbon on the pistons (using low octane gas), it's supposed to help after 1-2 applications.
hey wat exactly do u mean by buy chevron withtech?u may put chevron gas or they have there own bottle of an additive u can buy?
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Old 07-14-2006, 05:35 PM   #19
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It's a bottle that you can buy at most any Chevron station, or maybe some auto parts stores. It's a concentrated fuel additive that, when added to your gas tank, is supposed to get rid of carbon deposits on the top of the pistons, thus improving cylinder firing and the combustion cycle. If you've been using less octane than 91-93, you probably have some amount of carbon deposits.

The same stuff is also in Chevron's gasoline, but in a lesser quantity or concentration. The fewer gallons of gas in your tank when it's added, the more concentrated the solution. Chevron recommends that you not have less than 10-12 gallons when you pour in the additive.

I'm getting ready to try it myself, just as soon as I burn off a few more gallons of gas from my tank.
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Old 07-14-2006, 05:41 PM   #20
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so i guess they sell it at chevrons then gonnna go check one out later?
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