If your valves are ticking it could be a sign that they are loose. Loose valves won't hurt anything unless it's excessive. If they get too tight, that's where damage is likely. Hard starting is one sign of too tight valves. Tight valves do not cause ticking. How often should you check them? My experience is that I could safely double the interval recommended by the manufacturer, probably more. I like to check them myself and see how they are doing. Now that I have checked the valves twice on my Smax I am confident that I can easily go 6,000 miles or more between checks. The manual says every 2,000. I could probably go 10,000 between checks but it only takes about an hour to do on the Smax so I'll be conservative. If you can't do the valves yourself and don't have a mechanic you know you can trust then I'd probably leave them alone. The dealer may just charge you for a valve adjustment but not actually do anything. If it's running fine then the valves are probably OK. They can be a little out of spec without hurting anything or affecting performance.