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Is the Hemi Tick Bad?

The number one question we get from our customers with Hemi engines is, “is the Hemi tick bad?”The number one question we get from our customers with Hemi engines is, “is the Hemi tick bad?”

If you Google that particular phrase, you get various blogs, websites, FAQs, and YouTube videos promising to give you the answer.  If you look through them, you will find that there is considerable disagreement among them. Some people tell you the Hemi tick is no problem.  Others tell you it always means a problem.  It can be very confusing.

Have no fear.  Specialized Truck and Auto is here to give you a definitive answer to that question.

Is the Hemi tick bad? Maybe.

We realize that is a disappointing answer.  Unfortunately, it is the honest one.  Sometimes the Hemi tick is just that harmless engine tick Chrysler/Dodge tells you can develop in some Hemi engines.  Other times, the tick you hear from your Hemi engine could mean serious problems.

What Makes a Hemi a Hemi?

You have heard the term, and you may even have a Hemi motor, but do you know what makes them different from other motors.  Hemi is short for hemispherical and refers to the rounded head of this type of V-8 engine.  The design of the engine allows it to be smaller while still being powerful.  It is highly efficient and has a high surface-to-volume ratio.

What Vehicles Have Hemi Motors?

If you have a car or truck with a Hemi in it, you almost certainly know it.  Chrysler/Dodge probably charged more for it when you purchased it, made a big deal out of it, and stuck a badge somewhere on your vehicle that proclaimed it.  However, if you bought your vehicle second-hand or are just not very auto-savvy, you might not know if it has a Hemi. Just about any garage (or any car enthusiast) can tell you the answer.  Vehicles with Hemis include Dodge Ram Trucks, Jeep Grand Cherokee, Dodge Challenger, Dodge Charger, Dodge Durango, and Chrysler 300.

What Is a Tick?

An engine tick is a tapping or knocking noise you hear when the engine is running.  Generally, engine ticks are a sign that something is not expected in your engine.  They often occur because of a lack of lubrication, which can create a potential for significant engine problems.

What Is the Hemi Tick?

According to Chrysler/ Dodge, Hemi engines can develop a completely normal, harmless tick.  In our experience, this can be true.  We have checked out some Hemi engines with ticks in the past and have been unable to find any problems with them.  Even better than that, the vehicle owners have not reported any issues developing after checking out the engines and reporting that they are fine.

Do Other Vehicles Get the Hemi Tick?

That is another one of those yes and no questions.  Technically, unless your vehicle is a Chrysler/Dodge automobile with a Hemi engine, it cannot develop a Hemi tick.  However, other vehicles can develop theoretically harmless engine ticks.  Both Dodge vehicles without Hemi engines and Chevys are known for similar ticks.  In Chevys, the tick is called AFM lifters, and in Dodges, it is called MDS lifters.  So, do not be surprised if someone refers to your engine ticking as a Hemi tick, even if you do not have a Hemi engine. 

What’s The Difference Between a Potential Problem and the Hemi Tick?

That, right there, is the million-dollar question.  You cannot listen to an engine tick and magically know whether it is just the regular Hemi tick or the sign of a severe problem.  The fact that so many people say the Hemi tick is normal is irresponsible.  It encourages people to ignore ticking sounds that develop in their engines.  The problem is, if that ticking sound is the sign of a problem, the longer you ignore it, the bigger the problem gets.  What could have been a relatively easy repair can end up being a destroyed engine.  The longer you delay, the more expensive a repair could be, and the more dangerous it is for the driver and anybody else on the road.

Are There Any Recalls for Dodge Hemi Ticks?

No.  Chrysler/Dodge maintains that a Hemi tick is normal and has not recalled ticking Hemi engines.  That does not mean all is necessarily well.  We are not engine designers or engineers.  That means we will not say that an engine that develops ticks and is considered “normal” has a design flaw.  However, we also are not going to disagree with other people who might make that observation.  So, while Chrysler/Dodge has not recalled it, it is something you should have your mechanic check. If you do not already have a Hemi mechanic, we would be happy to become your auto shop.  

What Should I Do If My Hemi Develops a Tick?

Get it checked out.  Obviously, we are a garage, and we would love to earn your business.  However, whether you use another shop or us, please get it checked.  We urge you to ignore the online community telling you that this Hemi tick is normal because that is not always true.  Sure, it is going to cost you a little money getting someone to look at your engine.  However, it could save you a lot of money and trouble if they identify a problem early.

What Are Some Causes of Engine Ticks?

Engine ticking can happen for so many reasons that it is impractical to list all of them.  Some common causes of ticks include:

  • Low Engine Oil
  • Dirt or Debris in the Engine
  • Using Low-Quality Oil
  • Loose or Worn Spark Plugs
  • Loose Manifold Bolts
  • Worn Out Lifters
  • Valves that Need Adjusting
  • Worn Out Drive Pulleys

How Do I Fix an Engine Tick?

Well, it depends on what is causing it.  If you suspect that dirt or debris is causing the engine tick, you may be able to fix it by using an additive.  Changing to a higher-quality fuel and higher-quality oil may also help.  Using high-quality synthetic oils is one way people avoid developing the Hemi tick.  Of course, if there is a concern that debris is trapped in the engine, an engine flush may do the trick.  The solution depends on the problem.

  • Is Any Engine Ticking Ever Normal?

Absolutely.  If you have good hearing, you may be able to hear your vehicle’s fuel injectors and even some of the valves.  That could create a ticking noise.  However, in our experience, these noises are usually too faint for most people to hear.  Maybe we attended a few too many loud concerts, so our hearing is not great.  Generally, we do not hear fuel injectors or valves during regular vehicle operations.