The terrible tick - I've got the dreaded Pentastar tick

The terrible tick - I've got the dreaded Pentastar tick

“Tick, tick, tick, tick,” this is is the sound my Wrangler’s engine was making this week when I dropped it off at the dealership Wednesday.

I was concerned my Jeep had developed the notorious Pentastar tick, a loud knocking sound that resonates from the left side of the engine.

Reportedly the left cylinder bank was designed differently than the right, and due to a flaw in the engine’s #2 cylinder head results in additional wear to engine components, a characteristic tick or tock, and a loss in performance.

It wasn’t the distinct sound of lifters or injectors either this was something far louder and much more disconcerting. The good news was if that’s what it was, it was covered under warranty, and if it was something else.

When I drove into the service department I left the engine running so the technician could hear the sound for himself. He immediately suspected a bad cylinder head. He must have dealt with the problem before. I was happy he wasn’t going to give me the runaround or tell me that it’s just a loud engine or they all sound like that.

I got dropped off at work by a pleasant old guy named Al, and after seven hours, I got a call letting me know it was going to take a few days to get parts in and to finish up the repairs.

“Great,” I thought, “Well at least I’ll get to test drive another Jeep or something… I hope they don’t give me a minivan.”

What they had for me was a glossy black baby grand, a 2017 Jeep Compass Sport (first gen).

Lost in a Compass

I’ve never thought much of the Compass its cousin the Patriot. Neither are particularly nice vehicles and their the offroad lightweights of the Jeep lineup.

On the other hand, they were handing me the keys to a brand new vehicle and I needed a way to get to work in the morning. I wasn’t going to complain too loudly.

In my short time with the Compass, I can’t recommend it to anyone, especially with an all-new Compass coming next spring, with an all new frame, powertrain, and suspension.

The Compass is positioned squarely in the compact-SUV segment. The little SUV drives like a car and not in a good way. I found it cramped and oddly proportioned. With the seat slid back to a comfortable position I could barely reach the steering wheel.

The Compass was loud, sluggish and for some reason when I would stop at a stop light the whole cabin would vibrate. It reminded me of a bad motor mount, but I guess the compass’ little four-banger runs rough at low RPM.

I did learn something interesting from the experience, Wisconsin roads are horrible, unbelievably horrendous. I’d always thought it was my Wrangler’s ancient suspension, but it turned out its was just Wisconsin’s crappy black top. That being said, the Compass didn’t do much to soak up the bumps.

No more tick – That was quick

At 1 p.m. the next day I got a phone call from the dealer. I’d expected a call with an ETA on parts and when they expected to finish up the repair. Instead, the tech said my vehicle was done. By some chance of fate, they’d had all the parts in stock. The benefit of having a standardized engine I suppose.

At the dealership, I handed over the keys to the loaner, — good riddance Compass you won’t be missed — paid the cashier for the oil change and walked out to inspect the repair.

I turned the key in the ignition. The engine revved to life and I waited. I knew I wouldn’t hear that irritating tick-tock until the engine had quieted down a little. After 10 minutes the engine had reached operating temperature and I had yet to hear any knocking.

With the windows down in two-degree temperature, I drove back to the office listening for the knock of the engine. I never heard it.

Success. My Jeep back was running great, now let’s just hope it stays that way.