Miata MX-5

Ticking Noise From Engine Due to Sticking Valve Lash Adjusters on Mazda Miata MX-5

Problem Description and Possible Solution

A loud ticking noise (hydraulic valve lifter noise) may be heard from the top of the engine, particularly when the engine is still cold. The noise may occur more frequently on higher mileage vehicles; Hydraulic valve lash adjusters may need to be replaced to correct this issue. Following the maintenance schedule for oil changes will also help prevent a recurrence of the noise.

Problem Data
RepairPal Verified
Average mileage: 117,204 (20,000–250,000)
Engines affected: 1.6L 4 Cylinder, 1.8L 4 Cylinder
17 model years affected: 1990, 1991, 1992, 1993, more1994, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2015
48 people reported this problem
Viewing 1 - 19 of 19 comments
Loud engine noise lifters sounds like and lower rpms funny noise when you barely accelerate and let off the a tensioner making noise.what to do it serms like it is getting louder that is about the only time you here it any suggestions
Car sits a lot, not driven regularly, valves lifters are noisy. Used to quiet after driven a couple of miles, now they don't. Added some oil conditioner (Lucas) but so far, no difference, hope lifters don't have to be replaced!
just started hearing this .will try some valve cleaner as I already change oil and filter every 5000. Only occurs at first acceleration usually
Lifter noise started after a Mazda specialist mechanic replaced my cars timing belt. He claims the lifter noise is 'normal'. Won't go back to him again. No solution yet.
Loud ticking noise from the top of the engine. Realized the problem had started when oil was running low.
I get a knocking/ticking on start up, it goes away after driving for a few miles. also it tend to choke a little upon deceleration and at idle.
I have the same problem with my car, it happens everytime it is cranked up. Engine can be hot or cold, same ole noise!!!
After the 20000 mile oil change, motor had a very loud lifter tapping noise about 1000 miles later. Taken to Town North Mazda. The device Tect called Mazda corporate engineering department and was told to tell me "it's within noise spec" and Mazda will only deal with it if becomes louder or if a problem occurs later. Call to make a complaint with corporate 800-222-5500, #1-188019413. Was told the same story. It Tect says it's the normal sound, I must live with it. Us and two others purchase the 2015 Miata after the Dallas auto show. We are the only one having this issue, but Mazda is still stating it normal. It is a embarrassment to drive this car the way it sounds. My old Dodge Ram truck has over 190k miles and it sound super quite next to this Mazda. I have only had mobile 1 full synthetic in the car since the first oil change.i truly believe it's the valve lash adjusters in this car making the noise. Mazda either won't help or won't fix this under Warrenty. Until they do fix this defect in the HVLA, I say Buyers be aware.... And tell your friends if you want a fun sports car this is the one.... But don't get it until they fix this ridiculous problem.

Do a internet search for Mazda Miata motor ticking problem and you will see lots of complaints

Jerry Elliott, Dallas Tx
just had my engine replaced, old engine never tapped but the used one my mechanice 'just' put in is tapping when i start the car, he says 'it's normal' and won't hurt anything. i's why i came 'here' looking for answers.
all the time except when i change the oil and than after 1000 miles or so it starts again