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Davehop, Ford Master Technician
Category: Lincoln
Satisfied Customers: 1291
Experience:  Fully certified by Ford Motor Company in all areas of automotive repair, 25 years Dealership Tech
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2005 navigator: clicking sound..cold start..recall..sputtering

Customer Question

2005 navigator engine has been making a clicking sound especially during cold start for months. There was a recall to repair engine rings three years ago; car has run ok but sounds different since then. Engine begin sputtering as if running low on fuel yesterday. It began to buck and almost stalled, then it started back running normally. Today I got the same near stall reaction, and now I'm afraid to go on the freeway! Is this going to be a rip off bonanza for the dealership? What do you think is the problem? Are there reliable options for repair outside of a dealership?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Lincoln
Expert:  Davehop replied 5 years ago.

Hello and welcome to JA, if you dont want to get ripped off then you should be going to the dealership. The only time people with that mentality go to the dealership is after they've been to their own personal mechanic, who usually winds up just throwing parts at the problem, all the while bad mouthing the dealership, and then when they can't fix it, the car needs to go to the dealership, and we have to fix everything Big Jim couldn't, and also fix it the right way, yes we will charge you. Then the customer takes all the money they've spent, including Big Jims inferior parts that didn't work, and complain that we charged them that whole amount to fix their car. When in fact if they had gone to the dealer in the first place, it would have been fixed right the first time, and if it wasn't the dealer will make good on the repair. If you have had a bad experience at the dealer in the past, try a different dealership, but dont assume all dealers are only there to rip you off, we are the ones with factory trained techs, and the special service tools designed to be used on your car, not the places that advertise ASE mechanics, whose training is mostly GM based to begin with. Now, there was no recall on the Navigator for piston rings, so what exactly did you have repaired, and is this noise after the engine has started, or while the engine is cranking? Here is a copy of the TSB for engine noise on your truck, maybe this is what you had done?


2005 Mustang
2004-2005 F-150
2005 Expedition, F-250, F-350
2005 Navigator

This article supersedes TSB 06-4-7 to update the Service Procedure.


Some vehicles equipped with a 4.6L 3-valve or 5.4L 3-valve engine may exhibit a ticking and / or knocking noise after reaching normal operating temperature, or a rattle upon starting. The noise may be described as ticks, taps, knocks, or thumps. In some cases the noise may be a normal characteristic of these engines. In other cases the noise may require further investigation. Sorting out and defining the noise as reported by the customer is important to successfully diagnose and / or repair the condition.


Before starting diagnosis, it is critical to determine the specific engine noise the customer is concerned with. The customer should be interviewed to get their detailed perception and description of the noise, and to determine if the noise occurs at idle or above idle speed, and if the engine is cold, hot, or both. Attempt to duplicate the noise, and determine the source of the symptom. Refer to the following Service Procedure to help determine the source of the noise and if a repair is needed.





  1. Make sure you have a detailed description of the noise the customer is concerned with, including whether the noise is occurring at idle or above idle speed (does it disappear above 1200 RPM), and if the engine is cold, hot, or both when the noise is occurring. These engines generate a lot of "normal" noises, so it is critical to confirm the noise the customer is concerned with. Determine what environment the customer is in when the noise is most noticeable to them (inside passenger compartment, next to building with / without the driver and / or passenger window open, or beside the wheel well). Validate by using your own perception.
  2. Compare the noise generated with a new vehicle, if available, with an ENGINE build date of 3/30/2005 or later on Mustang and 4/18/2005 or later on F-150 to F-350, Expedition and Navigator vehicles.
  3. Diagnose noise when engine is at normal operating temperature (Oil at 160° F (71° C) or above). Verify oil temperature by using a diagnostic scan tool and monitoring the engine oil temperature (EOT) PID. Startup rattle may only occur with cold oil.
  4. Check the type of oil filter installed on the vehicle. A dirty or clogged filter may cause a pressure drop. Look for aftermarket brands not recognized in the market or a production filter that has gone beyond the standard Ford recommended change interval.
  5. Check for signs of oil brand used and viscosity (interview customer if needed). Motorcraft® SAE 5W-20 Premium Synthetic Blend Motor Oil or equivalent is recommended.

    Once the above pre-checks are complete, check for sound level from the following components, in the order listed. Compare the sound from these components to the noise the customer is concerned with, to determine the source of the noise.


Injector noise (ticking) is considered normal. Noise increases with RPM hot or cold and is recognized at the top of the engine.


Lash adjusters can make a ticking / tapping noise noticeable at any engine RPM / temperature and is audible through the wheel well or an open hood. However, with the hood down, lash adjuster noise can be heard as a light tapping noise through the wheel well and is considered normal.

Tracing this noise must be isolated to a cylinder bank. If one bank is louder than the other bank, focus the diagnostic to the loud bank. If both banks seem loud with the hood down, compare wheel well sound level to another comparable vehicle.

Use a stethoscope on the top of the cam cover bolt heads to confirm which bank is affected. Move the probe from front to rear if necessary.

If isolated, only replace the intake and exhaust lifters on the affected cylinder bank.


The 4.6L 3V and 5.4L 3V variable cam timing (VCT) feature may emit a light knock in normal operation and is audible only at idle speed, with a hot engine (gear selector in park / neutral). However, it may be masked by or mistaken for other noises generated from either injector firing or a malfunctioning valve train as described above. The noise does not affect performance or durability of the part.

VCT phasers may knock at hot idle. It may be heard inside the passenger compartment, or the wheel well area. Some light noise is normal. The engine may require a cold soak overnight for a full diagnosis to effectively be made at hot idle, particularly when a VCT phaser is suspected. The knock is not prevalent at cold temperature.

To test for VCT noise:

  1. Place the transmission in park or neutral
  2. Bring engine oil temperature to 160° F (71° C) or above as indicated by the scan tool "EOT" PID.
  3. Allow engine to idle, and determine if noise is noticeable.
  4. Set engine speed to over 1200 RPM (if noise is a VCT knock, the noise should disappear).
  5. Return engine speed to idle (verify knock returns).

    If the noise intensity is more than a lightly audible knock at hot idle under 1200 RPM at engine operating temperature, replace the cam phaser using the "In-Vehicle Repair" Camshaft Phaser and Sprocket procedure found in the Workshop Manual, Section 303-01


Some 2004 F-150 and 2005 F-150, Expedition, Navigator, F-Super Duty, and Mustang vehicles may have a rattle on startup that lasts 1 to 3 seconds. If initial pre-checks have been completed and the noise sounds like it is coming from the front of the engine, replace the VCT Phaser Kit. If the engine continues to make the rattle noise after the initial startup do not exchange VCT.

5L1Z-6500-AALash Adjuster (2005 Vehicles)
3L3Z-6500-BALash Adjuster (2004 Vehicles)
3R2Z-6A257-DAVCT Phaser Kit


Customer: replied 5 years ago.
As you may sense; I have had a terrible experience at my dealership. No one other than the dealership has ever serviced my car. My car was previously owned by the owner of my dealership. I'm not sure what it was called (tsb?), but it required the engine to be removed; I thought they said rings were replaced. Nevertheless that was 3 years ago. My current problem simply stated is that the engine periodically sputters as if it is about to stall or run out of gas. I noticed this once before (about a year ago), I put in chevron with techon fuel treatment and it didn't do it again. This time it's a bit worse to the point I think it may fail on the highway.

I certainly agree that the most capable people to fix my car should be the people I bought it from.
I work hard and I just want to fix the problem with no add ons. Your point on changing dealerships is well taken.
Do you have a suggestion in the area?
Expert:  Davehop replied 5 years ago.
I dont know where in the country you are located, but if you call customer service, the number is XXXXX your owners manual, they will gladly direct you to a new dealership, whom Iam certain will be more than happy to assist you. Is your check engine light on, or does it flash?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
No engine light. I am 2,000 miles past oil change time though. I am heading to get oil and filter change.
I'm in Atlanta, I wish there were a rating for each dealership's service record. You have given me a sense of relief regarding my engine ticking noises. I quess I will start with the least expensive options first.
Expert:  Davehop replied 5 years ago.
Please if you are getting an oil change go to the dealer, the ford oil filter is the only filter that will not break apart and clog up the oil passages to the VCT solenoids, which is the reason for most of the engine noise concerns in the navigators.
Davehop and 2 other Lincoln Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Now that my vehicle has 100k miles should there be a need to add oil in between 3000k mile oil changes?
Expert:  Davehop replied 5 years ago.
unless there is a leak, no, most engines will burn up to a quart every 1 to 3k miles, but as long as you maintain your vehicle, you should never run into a problem with low oil level.