The Causes of Lifter Tick, How to Fix it and What To Do About It

If you’ve heard a ticking sound coming from the engine area, you might be holding your breath. It’s a terrible sound, leaving dollar signs flashing before your eyes as you try to figure out what this is going to cost you to repair. The key to dealing with lifter tick is to first establish what’s causing it.

A lack of oil, contaminated or insufficient oil are the top causes for lifter tick. You might also have been using the wrong grade of oil or being a poor lifter. Finally, it’s possible that the pushrod is bent, which requires replacement to fix. 

Finding the root cause of this noise problem is only one way to fix it. This section examines the cause and how each can be fixed. The cost is also considered. 

Índice de Contenido
  1. What's a Lifter?
  2. Lifter tick causes
    1. 1. Petroleum Contaminated
    2. 2. Too Much Oil 
    3. 3. The wrong oil type
    4. 4. Bad Lifter
    5. 5. Bent Pushrod (Some engine types)
  3. How to fix a lifter tick
    1. 1. Make sure your engine oil is clean
    2. 2. Make use of an additive
    3. 3. Replacing the lifter
    4. 4. Replace Pushrod (Some engine types)
  4. Lifter Tick Repair Cost

What's a Lifter?

Hydraulic Lifters

Each valve has a hydraulic valve lifter. The rocker arms, which are small rods that attach to the valve's cylinder, connect it with the rocker cylinder. The lifter’s job is to help open and close the valve with the assistance of the rocker arm.

Tickle noise is possible if there's a problem with either the engine or lifter. It is less likely that you will need to make major repairs when the problem has been addressed quickly. 

A hydraulic lifter can be installed between the engine's camshaft, and engine valve depending on which engine model you have.

Related: 4 Signs that a Hydraulic Lifter is Not working properly

Lifter tick causes

1. Petroleum Contaminated

Engine Sludge

Oil is essential for the motor to function properly. It wears out the lubrication, which causes the engine to not work as well.

It’s important that you perform regular oil changes to combat this issue. Additionally, change the oil filter to ensure there’s no unnecessary contamination. 

RELATED : How to Change Oil In Your Car in 5 Simple Steps

2. Too Much Oil 

Engine Oil Dipstick

Oil is essential for the engine to run smoothly. If the oil levels get too low and the engine can’t run its best, the lifters may not function properly.

Even if the engine isn’t making noise, you must resolve the low engine oil issue promptly. The wrong oil could cause irreversible, serious damage to your engine.

3. The wrong oil type

All engines run different oil types. If you wish to have proper operation, it is important to pay attention to the viscosity rating. 

Oil that has a higher viscosity is better for colder areas. It can also flow quicker. The engine's performance will suffer if the oil becomes too thick when temperatures drop. Summer months call for oil that is thicker. You should be able to determine what oil viscosity is appropriate by checking the vehicle owner’s manual.

RELATED: Synthetic blend vs full synthetic oil 

4. Bad Lifter

If the problem isn’t related to the oil, then the lifter itself might be to blame. You might hear the lifting mechanism make a clicking sound, which can get worse.

It is impossible to repair a damaged lifter unless you replace it. If you don’t take action soon enough, the problem might create a misfire as the valve no longer opens as it should. 

5. Bent Pushrod (Some engine types)

The car’s age and the way it is driven can have a profound impact on how the pushrod operates. Over time or after a lot of abuse, it’s possible for the pushrod to bend.

When this happens, the lifter can’t function correctly, leaving you with an engine tick. You can only fix this problem by changing the bent pushrod. 

How to fix a lifter tick

1. Make sure your engine oil is clean

Maintaining your vehicle should always be your first priority. This is why you must change your engine oil and filter regularly. The possibility of a lifter tick could result from allowing contaminated oil in your system. The system might have too much oil even if it has enough. Between oil changes check for levels, and then top up if needed. 

You should always ensure that you use the appropriate oil type and season for your car. Your climate may dictate that you might have to change the oil type during certain months. 

2. Make use of an additive

You may want to add an oil additive to keep your oil at its finest. You can find a variety of high-quality oil additives to clean the engine and maintain the system's lubrication. 

The majority of engine oil additives work to benefit valve lifters pushrods rocker arms valves and pushrods. Most formulations require that you add the additive to your oil change. 

This product is recommended by us down below. We may earn small commissions for qualified purchases by using this affiliate link.

3. Replacing the lifter

A valve lifter can break and you will have to replace it. You have to replace it if it fails. You might also replace all of them because the lifter was not good enough. 

You can also adjust the valve lifter to stop ticking on older engines with solid lifters. A professional shop will be able to tell if there’s an issue with the clearance between the pushrods, camshafts and valve lifters. 

4. Replace Pushrod (Some engine types)

It is necessary to replace the pushrod if it becomes damaged. Similar applies to the rocker arm. 

However, neither of these fixes is inexpensive, which is why it’s important to maintain and care for your engine in the first place. It can take a lot of time and require specialized knowledge to replace engine parts. 

Lifter Tick Repair Cost

You might only need an oil change for the lifter tick. This will cost between $35 to $150. Saving money can be achieved by performing your own oil changes at home.

But, engine replacements will increase your cost. You must also factor in labor costs. Engine work takes time. You could spend anywhere between $250 and $1,000 on valve lifters replacements. This cost can easily exceed $1,500 if you own a high-end vehicle or large truck.

A pushrod, rocker arm, or other mechanical part that needs to be replaced could cost you between $500 and $1500. Costs vary depending on what vehicle you have and where you are taking your vehicle to be repaired.

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