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Thread: Stuck lifter?

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    Stuck lifter?

    So I think I have a stuck lifter in the Regal. I did some research on Hydraulic lifters, and everything seems to make sense so far. I have a tapping noise in the engine that's been there for the last 20k some miles. I don't exactly remember when it got there; I just remember hearing it. Its not really audible at idle, but the moment you rev even slightly, you can hear the ticking. Since I've replaced the valves, the lifters are the last bits that could be at fault here.

    How would I go about fixing this problem? I just dumped a can of seafoam into my crankcase (with 1500 miles on the oil) in hopes that this might alleviate the problem. Does anyone have any other suggestions? The engine also recommends 10W30, but I'm using 5W30. Should I try using a heavier grade oil? Or is my only option to replace all of the lifters? Is there a way to figure out which one is bad or stuck? These things are about $10 each, so I'd prefer not to have to replace all 12 of them.

    Any help would be appreciated.

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    So I did some more reading, and apparently there are a few things you can use to free stuck lifters. RISLONE ENGINE TREATMENT is one of those. Apparently you drain a quart of oil and put that in there. Alternately, I've heard of people draining a quart of oil and putting in a quart of transmission fluid. Anyone have any experience with eithe of these? I've also heard of people running thinner 0w-30 oils in conjunction to some of these.

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    RobertISaar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xtremerevolution View Post
    So I did some more reading, and apparently there are a few things you can use to free stuck lifters. RISLONE ENGINE TREATMENT is one of those. Apparently you drain a quart of oil and put that in there. Alternately, I've heard of people draining a quart of oil and putting in a quart of transmission fluid. Anyone have any experience with eithe of these? I've also heard of people running thinner 0w-30 oils in conjunction to some of these.
    i'm actually planning on doing this the next time the GP gets started, which should be tomorrow... and then as soon as i get back home, it's time for an oil change.

    and normally to fix a lifter tick, yeah, thinner oils will usually help.
    King of Code
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    Quote Originally Posted by RobertISaar View Post
    i'm actually planning on doing this the next time the GP gets started, which should be tomorrow... and then as soon as i get back home, it's time for an oil change.

    and normally to fix a lifter tick, yeah, thinner oils will usually help.
    I wonder if that stuck lifter is the cause of my rough idle vibration...

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    Quote Originally Posted by xtremerevolution View Post
    I wonder if that stuck lifter is the cause of my rough idle vibration...
    could do it. since every 1 out of 2 revolutions is a stroke and action for that specific lifter, i can see it only being noticeable at low RPM...

    at 800RPM, 1 lifter moves 400 times in a minute. that's roughly 6.67 times a second. when you rev above that, it wouldn't have enough time to effect the rest of the car for you to notice.

    i bet if it idled lower, the vibration would get stronger...
    King of Code
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    Yep, 6 or so times a second is exactly what it feels like...

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    Quote Originally Posted by xtremerevolution View Post
    Alternately, I've heard of people draining a quart of oil and putting in a quart of transmission fluid.
    I haven't ever tried that, but I have heard of it being done with success
    - Jeff W.

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    Well, I have some good news, so far. The vibration has lessened a bit, and now I can no longer hear any lifter tapping up to 2000 rpm, and I can't hear much past that because of the exhaust noise. The powerband also seems to feel more even, and the engine is overall quieter. Interesting considering that Rislone engine treatment is designed to clean out everything. I'm hoping the lifters were just clogged and not actually worn. I'll try to rev it from under the hood later since I can only rev so loud in my work's parking lot without looking like a tool.

  10. #9
    I use Rislone a lot more than any other "treatment", and it does work if the problem is just gunk. Engine flush(kerosene), and Sea Foam will clean it out faster, but you could get larger pieces dislodged and stuck in places you don't want them, like passages or your pick up screen. Don't use the tranny fluid, wrong type of lube for an engine. Rislone cleans it slower and allows the filter to pick it up.
    Change the oil and filter, use a good filter(spend a little money), and use the quart of Rislone in place of a quart of oil and drive. If you use Sea Foam, put it in the engine drive 500 miles or so, change the oil and filter. If done all of these, except the tranny fluid.

    Rislone is also good to put in a manual tranny that uses engine oil or gear oil. It cleans up the syncros and gets into places the heavy oil can't. Smooths out shifting quite a bit.

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    Your regal seems like it's acting just like mine is. I have the popping exhaust as per your "burned exhaust valve" thread, and I also have a rythmic vibration at idle. Part of it is from the bad front MM, but not all of it. I've seafoamed everything: vacuum crankcase and fuel. It helped but eventually it came back. I also changed the oil and filter since then, and I'm waiting to see what comes of that. 1k miles and it's still very clean, and none burned. Fuel filter is newer. I need to upgrade my ignition system, as that also has something to do with it. Components are just old.

    Usually a lifter won't really be enough to cause running problems, hydraulic lifters can only collapse so much, and that's not much.
    1991 Buick Regal GS - 121k - 3800 SI - 440T4/4T60 - White/Silver Two-Tone - Grey Sport Interior *DEAD*
    1991 Chevrolet Lumina Euro 3.1 - 116k - 3.1 - 440T4/4T60 - White - Blue Interior *SOLD*
    1997 Chevrolet Monte Carlo LS - 180k - 3100 - 4T60-E - Torch Red - Grey Interior *TRADED*
    2002 Pontiac Grand Prix SE - 195k - 3100 - 4T65-E - Teal - Charcoal Interior *SOLD*
    1993 Chevrolet Caprice Classic - 189k - 5.0 - 700R4 - Maroon - Maroon Interior

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    Quote Originally Posted by alec_b View Post
    Your regal seems like it's acting just like mine is. I have the popping exhaust as per your "burned exhaust valve" thread, and I also have a rythmic vibration at idle. Part of it is from the bad front MM, but not all of it. I've seafoamed everything: vacuum crankcase and fuel. It helped but eventually it came back. I also changed the oil and filter since then, and I'm waiting to see what comes of that. 1k miles and it's still very clean, and none burned. Fuel filter is newer. I need to upgrade my ignition system, as that also has something to do with it. Components are just old.

    Usually a lifter won't really be enough to cause running problems, hydraulic lifters can only collapse so much, and that's not much.
    Well I fixed the problem with the popping exhaust by replacing the heads. Now all I have left to do is fix the lifter problem. While I know that it isn't going to make a huge difference, I still want the car to run perfectly, and knowing what's wrong just bothers me. I'll pick up replacement lifters when it comes time to change the oil.

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    I really doubt it's the lifters alone. If it was a lifter you'd have other issues and more noise.

    Personally I'm leaning towards a flat cam. I know you're got quite a few miles on her now, and after all that time and hard driving it's possible that a couple of the lobes have gotten a little flat, and aren't providing the valve lift originally designed. That can do all kinds of things to your idle. If you're going to tear it down to replace the lifters, do yourself a favor and change the cam too. I'm pretty sure it can be done in the car, you just have to drop the pass. side of the subframe. Not that bad, but worth it if you're willing to spend the money. It looks like sealed power OEM cam's can be had for around $300, plus lifters.
    1991 Buick Regal GS - 121k - 3800 SI - 440T4/4T60 - White/Silver Two-Tone - Grey Sport Interior *DEAD*
    1991 Chevrolet Lumina Euro 3.1 - 116k - 3.1 - 440T4/4T60 - White - Blue Interior *SOLD*
    1997 Chevrolet Monte Carlo LS - 180k - 3100 - 4T60-E - Torch Red - Grey Interior *TRADED*
    2002 Pontiac Grand Prix SE - 195k - 3100 - 4T65-E - Teal - Charcoal Interior *SOLD*
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    Quote Originally Posted by alec_b View Post
    I really doubt it's the lifters alone. If it was a lifter you'd have other issues and more noise.

    Personally I'm leaning towards a flat cam. I know you're got quite a few miles on her now, and after all that time and hard driving it's possible that a couple of the lobes have gotten a little flat, and aren't providing the valve lift originally designed. That can do all kinds of things to your idle. If you're going to tear it down to replace the lifters, do yourself a favor and change the cam too. I'm pretty sure it can be done in the car, you just have to drop the pass. side of the subframe. Not that bad, but worth it if you're willing to spend the money. It looks like sealed power OEM cam's can be had for around $300, plus lifters.
    How do you figure that the cam could have gotten flat considering its a hydraulic-roller cam (hydraulic roller lifters)? If it was a flat tappet cam, I could see it happening given the friction against the flat tappets, but there is virtually no friction at all between the lifters and the cam given the presence of the rollers.

    Furthermore, I know for a fact that I have hydraulic lifters, which by nature are designed to virtually eliminate valve clearance. If the lifters were working properly, then I wouldn't be having the noise I hear in my engine as they would be eliminating any gap.

    This is all considering that on second inspection, there is still the same loud noise coming from the engine which could be heard from within the car while revving the engine. The Rislone engine treatment seems to contain more detergents to loosen up crud inside the engine, but it also adds a coating that quiets mechanical parts inside the engine, which is why it's quieter now up to 2000 rpm.

    Any thoughts?

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    I know the lifters are supposed to take up slack in the valvetrain, but that's for a properly working lifter. I have seen them fail and cause odd noises, but that's probably not your case because it runs so well off idle.

    Just because it's roller cam doesn't mean that it's 100% free of wear. Any time you have one metal surface riding on another, roller or not, it's going to wear. I was just throwing ideas out there, at that mileage there's lots of possibilities that could cause the issue you're having. I've got to give you credit for chasing each of them down, I NEVER would have replaced my heads just because I had a lazy valve. My car runs the same as yours and I just ignore it.

    It seems like you want her to go a long time though, I was half and half suggesting the cam for both longevity reasons and to eliminate another possibility in your equation. I just figured bringing it up and getting shot down was better than not suggesting it and having it be the cause haha.
    1991 Buick Regal GS - 121k - 3800 SI - 440T4/4T60 - White/Silver Two-Tone - Grey Sport Interior *DEAD*
    1991 Chevrolet Lumina Euro 3.1 - 116k - 3.1 - 440T4/4T60 - White - Blue Interior *SOLD*
    1997 Chevrolet Monte Carlo LS - 180k - 3100 - 4T60-E - Torch Red - Grey Interior *TRADED*
    2002 Pontiac Grand Prix SE - 195k - 3100 - 4T65-E - Teal - Charcoal Interior *SOLD*
    1993 Chevrolet Caprice Classic - 189k - 5.0 - 700R4 - Maroon - Maroon Interior

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    I had a whole response for you and accidentally hit the back button. Grr...

    Anyways, I appreciate your input and in the event that I change my lifters and I still have this problem, I'll remember what you said.

    As for cam lobe wear, while it is metal touch metal in both instances, with roller cams there isn't actual friction. The metal is rolling against other metal similar to a ball bearing, as opposed to flat tappet cams where the cams are rubbing against the tappets with oil as the only lubrication.

    As for my car running well at idle, it doesn't. The vibration is still bad enough for you to see the steering wheel shaking ever so slightly but noticeably when stopped at a red light in Drive with the engine warm, and you can definitely feel it. Its more like a Harley Davidson kind of vibration than a humming vibration.

    I'll replace the lifters in 3000 miles when it comes time for an oil change if the problem persists, and I'll let you know how it went. I'm not trying to shoot you down by the way. I'm just trying to say what I think is the more likely scenario. Also, $120 for lifters and a 4 hour job is a lot easier to swallow than $420 for a cam and lifters and an entire weekend's worth of work.

    Let me know if you have any more tips. I could use all the help I can get.

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