What Causes Lifter Tick and How To Fix It

What Causes Lifter Tick and How To Fix It

Are you experiencing a hydraulic lifter noise issue with your car? You might not even be aware of this issue if you are not a car aficionado. Others could be aware of the issue but wish to understand how to silence the ticking lifters. Thankfully, there are strategies for lessening automobile lifter noise.What Causes Lifter Tick and How To Fix It

Well, in this article, we’ll be looking at what causes lifter tick and how you can fix it. With that being said, the answers to the following question will be discussed:

  • What is a Lifter?
  • What causes a lifter tick?
  • How do you fix lifter tick?
  • How much does it cost to fix lifter tick?


What is a Lifter?

A car lifter is the hydraulic valve lifter for your car. It’s a little cylinder connected to the hydraulic valve in your car via a rocker arm rod. Except when it doesn’t, the system functions effectively. The phenomenon known as “lifter tick” describes a situation in which the lifter itself creates a loud ticking or tapping noise.

Depending on the severity of the issue, the lifters may occasionally tick or they may tick continuously throughout the entire time your car is running. Lifter tick is more common in older and high-mileage cars, although it can occur in almost any car, especially those that haven’t had routine maintenance and repairs.

Although at first, you might think you can tolerate a little bit of ticking, eventually, it might start to irritate you. More significantly, it might point to a more serious issue that you should address before needing to perform a significant repair. Additionally, excessive ticking might cause you to become distracted while driving, which can be very dangerous.

What causes a lifter tick?

The following are the most common causes of a lifter tick:

  • An oil that has been contaminated
  • The incorrect type of oil
  • Lack of Oil
  • Bent pushrod (certain types of engines)
  • Damaged Lifter

An Oil that has been contaminated

Oil is necessary for the motor to keep every part properly oiled. The lubricant deteriorates with age, which makes the engine run less efficiently. You must make routine oil changes to address this problem. To further ensure there is no unnecessary pollution, replace the oil filter.

The incorrect type of oil

Every engine uses a different type of oil to operate. If you want to make sure that everything runs well, you need to pay close attention to the viscosity rating. You want an oil that is less viscous in colder areas so that it can flow more quickly. When temperatures drop too low, an engine’s performance diminishes if the oil is too thick. The need for heavier oil is greater throughout the summer. By consulting the owner’s manual for the car, you should be able to establish what oil viscosity is ideal.

Lack of Oil

There must be enough oil inside the motor to accomplish its work since it keeps the engine oiled. The lifters may not work properly if the oil levels drop too low and the engine cannot operate at its best. You must address the low engine oil issue right now even if the engine isn’t making any noise. Running the engine with insufficient oil might result in severe, permanent damage.

Bent pushrod (certain types of engines)

The age and driving style of the car can have a significant impact on how the pushrod performs. The pushrod may bend with the use or after a great deal of force. This results in the lifter being unable to operate properly, giving you an engine tick. Replacing the bent pushrod is the only solution to this problem.

Damaged Lifter

It’s possible that the lifter itself is to blame if the issue isn’t with the oil. You will hear a ticking noise that can get worse with time if the lifter is malfunctioning and not moving as it should. The only way to fix a defective lifter is to replace it. If you don’t fix the issue right away, the valve may stop opening as it should, which could result in a misfire.

How do you fix lifter tick?

Well, depending on the reason why the lifter ticks, its repair can vary. However, are some of the remedies you should consider:

  • Check the engine oil.
  • Utilize an additive.
  • Replace the pushrod.
  • Change the Lifter.

Check the engine oil

Your top concern should be keeping your car maintained, which is why you should change the engine oil and filter frequently. Lifter ticks may develop if you let contaminated oil continue to circulate through the system. Even when the system has clean oil, there may not be enough. Check the levels in between oil changes, and top off as necessary. Always use the appropriate type of oil for the season and your car. Depending on the weather in your area, you might need to change your regular oil at different times of the year.

Utilize an additive

You might also think about using an additive to maintain the oil performance at its optimum. Numerous high-quality oil additives are available to clean the engine parts and maintain the system’s proper lubrication. The majority of engine oil additives help the valves, rocker arms, pushrods, and valve lifters. When changing your oil, you should pour the additive in if your formulation calls for it.

Replace the pushrod

It is necessary to replace the pushrod if it has become damaged. The rocker’s arm is comparable in this regard. However, neither of these repairs is cheap, which is the major reason why it’s crucial to look after and maintain your engine. It can take a lot of time and expertise to replace engine parts.

Change the Lifter

A valve lifter replacement is a worst-case situation. You’ll have to buy a new one if it breaks. You might just replace them all at the same time because the defective lifter might have increased the wear on the others. If you have an older engine with solid lifters, the valve lifter may occasionally merely need to be adjusted to stop ticking. If there is a problem with the clearance between the pushrods, camshafts, and valve lifters, a qualified shop will be able to detect it.

How much does it cost to fix lifter tick?

Lifter tick repair costs might vary depending on the make and model of the car, the seriousness of the problem, and the labor rates charged by the repair facility. Inadequate lubrication or wear in the lifters or other engine parts are the usual causes of lifter tick. Repairing a lifter tick often costs between a few hundred and over a thousand dollars.

The cost can be on the lower end of the range if the issue is quite minor and can be fixed by just adjusting the valves or adding an engine oil additive. However, the price may rise significantly if the lifters must be replaced or if other engine parts have sustained considerable damage.

To receive a precise estimate for your particular car and circumstance, it is always advisable to speak with a trained mechanic or automobile service facility. They’ll be able to identify the problem and give you a rough idea of how much it will cost to fix it.

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Can lifter tick damage your engine?

Lifter ticks itself may not directly damage the engine. However, it can be an indication of underlying issues within the valvetrain or lubrication system. If left unaddressed, these problems can lead to further damage over time, potentially affecting engine performance and longevity.

Is a lifter tick expensive to fix?

The cost of fixing a lifter tick can vary depending on the cause and severity of the issue. In some cases, a simple fix like an oil change or adding an oil additive can resolve the problem. However, if the lifter or other valvetrain components are worn or damaged, more extensive repairs may be necessary, which can be more expensive.

How do you fix a ticking engine?

To fix a ticking engine, it’s important to identify and address the underlying cause. Here are some general steps that can be taken:

  • Ensure proper oil level and quality.
  • Use an appropriate oil additive if recommended by professionals.

If the issue persists, have a qualified mechanic inspect the engine for worn or damaged lifters, pushrods, or other valvetrain components. They may need to be replaced or adjusted.

Why do lifters tick when cold?

Lifters can tick when cold due to increased clearances between components caused by thermal expansion. When the engine is cold, the oil takes time to circulate and reach all the parts, resulting in a temporary lack of proper lubrication. As the engine warms up, the metal components expand, reducing the clearances and diminishing the ticking sound.

How do I stop my lifters from ticking?

To stop lifters from ticking, you can try the following:

  • Ensure proper oil level and quality.
  • Use an oil additive specifically designed to reduce lifter noise, if recommended by professionals.
  • Maintain regular oil change intervals.

If the issue persists, consult with a mechanic to diagnose and address the underlying cause.

What causes lifters to tick?

Lifters can tick due to several reasons, including:

  • Insufficient lubrication or oil supply.
  • Wear or damage to the lifters themselves.
  • Wear in other valvetrain components.
  • Engine design characteristics.
  • Cold engine conditions.

How do I know if my lifters are bad?

Signs of bad lifters may include:

  • Persistent ticking or tapping noise, especially when the engine is cold or at low RPMs.
  • Decreased engine performance or misfires.
  • Rough idle.
  • Illuminated check engine light (if the issue is detected by the engine control unit).

What causes lifter failure?

Lifter failure can occur due to various reasons, such as:

  • Lack of proper lubrication leads to increased wear.
  • Contamination or sludge buildup in the engine oil.
  • Over-revving the engine.
  • Excessive heat or high operating temperatures.
  • Manufacturing defects or poor quality components.

How long do car lifters last?

The lifespan of car lifters can vary depending on factors such as engine design, maintenance practices, driving conditions, and overall engine health. Generally, lifters can last for many years or even the lifetime of the engine if properly maintained. However, lifters can wear out over time due to the constant movement and friction involved in their operation. In some cases, lifter failure can occur prematurely, leading to the need for replacement. Regular oil changes, using the recommended oil type and viscosity, and adhering to the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule can help prolong the lifespan of lifters and reduce the likelihood of failure.

What do lifters do in an engine?

Lifters, also known as tappets, are components of the valvetrain in an engine. Their primary function is to transfer the motion from the camshaft to the pushrods, which then actuate the opening and closing of the engine’s valves. Lifters ensure that the valves open and close at the correct timing and in coordination with the camshaft lobes. They play a crucial role in controlling the intake and exhaust of air-fuel mixture in the engine cylinders, which is vital for proper combustion and engine performance.

Do lifters need to be replaced?

Lifters may need to be replaced if they become worn, damaged, or fail to function properly. If lifters are causing persistent ticking noise or if they are identified as the source of other valvetrain problems, replacement might be necessary. A qualified mechanic can diagnose the condition of the lifters and recommend replacement if required. It’s important to address lifter issues promptly to avoid potential damage to the engine and ensure optimal engine performance.

That’s it for this article, in which we looked at what causes lifter tick and how you can fix it. With that being said, the answers to the following question were discussed:

  • What is a Lifter?
  • What causes a lifter tick?
  • How do you fix lifter tick?
  • How much does it cost to fix lifter tick?

Hope it was helpful. If so, kindly share it with others. Thanks for reading; see you around!