Nothing in the world drives me crazier than lifter ticking noise coming from the car that makes me feel nothing less than hell.
Those annoying irregular sounds not only make you feel irritated but also come with attached problems like:
- They’ll cover the other noises you need to hear, like sleeper lines, car horns, etc.
- They may take away your concentration from the road.
- You may not hear other sounds from the engine.
What’s the bottom line?
None of the above is good for a safe journey.
So? You need to work on fixing the ticking noise from the lifter.
In case you don’t know what are lifters and how do they make this annoying noise.
What is a lifter?
A hydraulic tappet, which is also known as a hydraulic valve lifter or hydraulic rod adjuster, is a mechanism for keeping zero valve clearance in an internal combustion engine-Wikipedia
In simple words, a hydraulic valve lifter or lifter is something like a tiny cylinder that is connected to one end of the push arm or rocker arm, where it meets the valve.
This so-called lifter is supposed to quieten the noise from the engine while improving the performance and long healthy life of the same.
You may be wondering: Quieten?
Yeah! It is supposed to prevent unwanted noise and keep quiet. But over time, especially in old cars, it starts making sound itself.
And, that is not something that should happen.
This is a very common problem. So, many people should’ve found some of the best ways to quieten the noise.
What causes the lifter to tick?
Plenty of old cars and those of very high mileage will face this noise. Not only them, even if you don’t get your car serviced, then your car is going to enter that list.
So, what makes the noise?
Here’s the list of things that could go wrong with your car.
Bad lifter: A defective or bad lifter can make the lifter tick. It is required to be drawn out and repaired or should use the new one.
Dirty Oil Deposits: These dirty oils are deposited when no proper servicing is done. They should be cleaned. Replacing the oil will do the job for you.
Bent push rod: A bent pushrod may cause noise. This happens when the car is treated as a race car i.e., by pushing the accelerator now and then. This way the pushrod bends over time and eventually causes noise.
Here’s the deal: You are supposed to go through each of them to find the culprit.
The lifter ticking noise may vary from a few seconds after the start of the engine to as long as the engine runs. Anyways this is harmful to your engine if you don’t care about it in the initial stages.
Let’s quickly go through what causes the noises from lifters can do and to what extent they can be harmful.
Can Noisy Lifters cause damage?
The answer to this question depends upon what type of noise does the lifter make and how long does it last.
The noise can vary like ticking, tapping, clicking and it can last from a few seconds after starting to till the entire time your engine is running.
Depending upon the type of noise and its span, we can decide how serious the lifter is.
Usually, the noisy lifters produce some sort of tapping noise during the first few seconds after the starting of the engine.
And if this is your case, then some dirty oil is obstructing the natural functioning and cleaning this and replacing new oil will do the job for you.
If the sound persists longer, then you’ve got some real troubles.
And if the problem is not solved immediately, then these lifters will start blocking the proper functioning of the remaining parts of the engine in the long run.
Consequently, results in damages to the components of the engine that are quite more expensive than lifters. On prolonged usage, this will end up with an engine breakdown.
And that is not something you’re wishing to happen.
So, how can you avoid that?
Here’s I’m with DO-IT-YOURSELF guide on how to fix noisy lifters.
How To Fix Lifter Tick Noise
Accordingly, before going to get the noisy lifter fixed, you’ll need some products. In case you don’t have them, feel free to check their price on Amazon.
What you’ll be needing
Let me tell you one thing:
In case of any engine problems, conduct regular checks first.
If you haven’t used your car for some time and you’ve started hearing lifters started ticking, then possibly it’s because of old oil present in the engine.
Just run the engine for about 20 minutes. Your car should sound good after that.
What if not? Just follow my steps.
Adjust the Hydraulic valve lifters
If you can do some mechanic work by yourself then adjusting the hydraulic valve lifters first will be your best go. Else, you can go for changing the oil.
Generally, lifters are self-adjusting. But sometimes the lifters may go to the wrong position that may lead to noise.
There will be a small gap between the valve and rocker arm, known as valve lash. You can use this feeler gauge to check whether the space between the rocker arm and valve stem is as per the engine manual.
Check the engine manual for the proper valve lash size. If the measured size varies with the proper one, then you will have to adjust the valve adjustment screw to get the correct gap.
Before doing this, just go through this video on how to tighten the valve lash.
Replace the damaged Pushrods
If the ticking noise of the lifter is still audible, then there’s a good chance that one or more push rods are bent/damaged.
Check whether all the pushrods are straight by rolling each of them on a flat surface. You can open pushrods by yourself by unscrewing the push arm and lift the pushrods.
If you notice any pushrod bent, then there lies the culprit. That rod is tapping the remaining rods and causes the annoying noise. You will have to replace that.
In most situations, the pushrod gets bent when you treat the car like a race car, which just meant you’ve been too harsh with the gas pedal.
Replacing the pushrod should not matter much to you. For under $20, you will get the brand new pushrod.
This video will show you how to replace the pushrods with new ones.
Change the Oil
In most cases, improper maintenance will result in a noisy lifter.
The point? The engine oil should be replaced at least once or twice a year.
But the recent variation in diverse types of engines requires different types of lubrication oils. If the suitable oil for the appropriate engine is not provided, then the oil will end up being too heavy or too light for the engine.
This kind of improper lubrication will result in the buildup of dirt and sludge which will prevent the proper functioning of the engine by making metals come in contact to cause the tapping and ticking noise.
Proper lubrication should be done to prevent such kind of situation.
If you’re confused with which oil suits your engine best, then feel free to watch this video.
You must follow your manufacturer’s manual while changing the oil. If you don’t have one, you should consider contacting your dealer or mechanic.
- Flush out the old oil. Unscrew the cap under the car and place a container or bowl under the cap.
- Rinse your valve lifter with an engine flushing agent like Liqui Moly Engine Flush after the leaking of oil has stopped.
- Pour the new oil according to your engine specifications.
Clean Your Noisy Lifter with Oil Additives
This is probably the best solution to avoid noise from lifters.
You can stop the tapping noise from your engine when you first start by cleaning the lifters with oil additives.
Not solely for lifters, but also for the rockers and valves from the grime and the accumulated dirt inside.
Doing this quite often not only makes your car healthy and prevents the noise but also saves you from spending tons of money on repairing and buying a new engine.
Want to know the best part?
This is the most economical option to reduce ticking noise from the lifter.
The thing that makes these oil additives special is that they don’t need you to drain out the oil from the tank.
You can simply pour the oil additive into the oil tank and drive a few miles. This mixes the additive into the oil and stops ticking noises. You don’t even need to worry further because the viscosity of the additive is the same as the oil.
Thus, makes the engine run without noise and makes run at its ideal capacity.
I’ve collected some of the best oil additives for cleaning lifters.
- Liqui Moly 20004 Hydraulic Lifter Additive
- Marvel Mystery Oil
- Rislone 4502 Pack of 1 Transmission Stop Slip
These inexpensive oil additives are going to be a worthy investment to protect your engine from lifter troubles till the next oil change.
Installation of these oil additives are pretty much basic and those instructions can be found on the products themselves.
Finally, buy new lifters
I would recommend this as the last step. Because this is the last thing you can do to quieten the lifter tick noise.
Sadly, if you’re reading this long and still nothing has worked for you. Then you could just buy new lifters.
Depending upon your engine, from around a couple of dollars to $20 you could just buy the lifters instead. Usually found in packs and buying a complete set for your engine should not exceed $300.
This will be far less than you’d spend if you send your car to a mechanic.
If at all you want to do it all by yourself, you can easily remove the lifter by lifting the entire engine by using these performance tools.
Hence, you’ve got your reason to keep your car engine healthy.
Will Synthetic Oil quiet noisy lifters?
These modern-day synthetic oils are special. They’re made to behave like both thin and thick oils. When we start the engine, that’s when the engine is cool, oil is thin. That makes the oil flow throughout the engine easily.
When the engine gets to its operating temperature, then the second trait comes into the picture. This thicker oil protects the parts of the engine from damage during high temperatures.
The variation of viscosity of the oil is the key here. That differs the free motion and protection of engine parts at both low and high temperatures.
You can check the in-detail article about if synthetic oil quiets noisy lifters.
Will thicker oil make the engine quieter?
It again depends upon your car. If your car requires a 5w-20 oil and you gave it a 10w-30 oil, then you may end up with a loss of mileage.
In simple words, the thicker the oil, the more difficult it is for the engine to move the parts, hence the loss of power.
However, gives the best protection for the engine. In this sense, stops the metal parts from contacting each other. Certainly, makes the engine quieter and healthy.
Conversely, thinner oil allows smooth movement for the engine, thus giving better mileage.
Nevertheless, worst at protecting the engine. These thinner oils may squeeze out at high pressure that may cause damage to the engine.
So, it is highly recommended to use the exact oils suggested by the manufacturer. Or else, you may end up collapsing your engine. You can check the in-detail article about will thicker oil stop lifter noise.
What are Bad or Collapsed Lifter symptoms?
By listening to the sort of noise it makes, you can easily decide whether it is a defective hydraulic valve lifer or not. A bad lifter usually produces a unique sound. It’s just like a tapping sound with a quick rhythm rather than a ping or knocking sound.
Depending upon how long does the noise persist after the starting of the engine, we can conclude whether the problem is with the valve train or dirt in the oil tank.
A final thought on Noisy lifter tick Fix
Therefore, those are the things that can go wrong with your engine and solution for the noisy lifter that annoys the passerby too.
Car is just like a child, it will cry if it needs something. And, you need to take care of that.
Keep in mind: Those disturbing noises can be deadly while driving if you can’t listen to the horn of other vehicles.
Quick check- If you’re sure that noise is not coming from the loose parts, just go through the valve train, there you’ll find the culprit.
If not, the flushing agents will work for you and quieten the lifter.