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Lifter ticking.........some questions

This is a discussion on Lifter ticking.........some questions within the Internal Engine forums, part of the LSx Technical Help Section category; Ok well, my buddy has a 5.3 engine and one of the lifters is ticking really bad. I used a ...

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    Lifter ticking.........some questions

    Ok well, my buddy has a 5.3 engine and one of the lifters is ticking really bad.
    I used a stethoscope on the engine and isolated the tick location as coming from the passenger side cylinder bank.
    I removed the valve cover and found that the #7 intake lifter could be compressed using finger strength.
    I pulled the head and removed the lifter.
    I then disassembled the lifter.

    I don't really know what I am looking for as far as what makes the lifter go bad. I'll try to post some pictures of the disassembled lifter.

    When I removed the lifter, I was able to compress it with my fingers and a little bit of oil spurted out of the oil feed hole.......I did NOT remove any of the other good lifters, but am wondering if I had removed one of them (the good ones), would I have been able to compress a good lifter and would the oil (inside the lifter bore) spurt out of the feed hole as well? Or is there some type of valve that traps the oil within the spring area of the lifters piston?

    Should I have done something different rather than partially disassemble the engine?

    This lifter CONSTANTLY mad the ticking noise. Turn key, start engine, tick, tick, tick. No matter what oil psi or rpm or engine temp. This lifter would tick ANY time the engine would be running.

    This is my first post, I hope I have it in the right location and someone could help me out with some info. I already ordered a replacement lifter and all the necessary bolts, gaskets and seals. I could replace the oil pump if necessary, but would rather not. If the correct weight oil was used in this engine or something thicker like 'Lucas' was used, it would make absolutely no difference. Tick, tick, tick. Thick oil or thin oil didn't matter. Engine has around 130,000 miles.

    EDIT: The lifter is not intake lifter #7 cylinder....it is actually on the #8 cylinder.....passenger side. Sorry.


    Here is the disassembled lifter:


    Here is the roller tip side of the lifter. What looks like a blemish on the surface of the roller is actually just a reflection of something nearby:


    Here is a picture of the push rod side of the lifter....looks like it was 'chattering' a bit up against the lifter guide:


    Here is the lifters piston....the part that rides on top of the lifter spring


    Here is a picture of the part which the push rod rides on top of the lifter (I don't know what it is called:


    Here is another picture of the part within the lifter in which the push rod rides upon......lots of discoloration there.
    Last edited by LSLT; 09-02-2015 at 11:58 PM.

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    Welcome to the site!

    Sounds like the lifter is leaking down rather than pumping up like it should. Replacing it should remedy your issue. Be certain to remove all fluids from the head bolt holes as you can crack a block tightening down the head otherwise.

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    Moderator Firebirdjones's Avatar
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    I agree with Jeff. Everything looks pretty normal in those pics. It's probably a case of the lifter just not pumping up, and bleeding down. I've had new ones do it on a rare occasion.

    For what it's worth, they will all compress and squirt oil if you push on them.

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    ^^^^ What they said ^^^^ But I would take it one step further and replace all of the lifters. At 130,000 miles they are all well worn and when one goes the other 15 are not too far behind.
    My ride is a 2002 Camaro SS SLP #3296 with 30k, LTH, 3" Y, CME, Frost tune, K&N, ported TB, Blackwing lid, Bellows, MSD, Denso Iridium, and 85mm MAF, Bilsteins, Eibach springs, SLP strut brace, Adj. Panhard, TA Girdle, UMI, Pro 5.0, Nitto NT555
    My wife has a 2004 GTO with the rare SAP, 18" wheels, K&N Cold Air System, MSD, Ported TB, Frost tune, Denso Iridium, Flowmaster cat-back, 3200 Yank, 75k

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    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 2002ssslp View Post
    ^^^^ What they said ^^^^ But I would take it one step further and replace all of the lifters. At 130,000 miles they are all well worn and when one goes the other 15 are not too far behind.
    In for a penny in for a pound.

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    Well, I picked up the new lifter today. The body looks a little different, but the overall dimensions are the same. Cost was 70 bucks at the dealership. I agree that replacing all the lifters would be the smart thing to do, but this is my buddy's truck and he just doesn't have the money for the whole set ($70x16=Heat Attack Pricing). He's kinda doing this as inexpensively as possible as this is his 'back-up' work truck.

    Anyhow, after picking up the lifter, I went over to my buddys house, compared the dimensions to the old one, same. I left it there to soak in a jar of oil. Cleaned up the head and deck surface. Chased all the bolt holes, saw that one of the exhaust manifold bolts have snapped off nice and flush with the head....didn't notice it before till now, extracted the broken bolt....chased those threads, cleaned everything up again. Vacuumed the engine surfaces then blew out all the holes then cleaned everything one final time with a solvent. Blew everything off/out again.....anyhow, the engine is clean. Sprayed the HG with copper, set the HG on the deck, made sure everything lined up, set the head on the engine. Checked the new head bolts for flaws. None found. Feeling pretty good I set the head bolts in place and finally open up the spec book looking for torque info and I see that the head bolts are TTY's.......DANG!!!! I didn't think of that, and my torque angle guage is at home......well, I guess I wont be finishing up this engine till tomorrow. Hopefully everything goes good.

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    Sounds like you about have it licked.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pajeff02 View Post
    Sounds like you about have it licked.
    I just thought of something.....what if this particular lifter oil supply passage is blocked? It's just a tiny feed hole. If this tiny passage is blocked it could also cause the lifter to not pump up. Is there a way I can determine if the tiny oil passage is blocked?

    I noticed......well, what I THINK I noticed was that one other lifter gets its oil supply directly off a cut out along the main oil galley, but this 'bad lifter' gets its oil from a tiny feed hole. Was I just seeing things wrong? Do all the lifters get thier oil supply from tiny feed holes or are some fed directly off a cut out in the main galley?

    Is there a way I can determine if there is any debris stuck in the tiny passage?
    Is there any way I can get the oil to flow up into the empty lifter bore thru the tiny feed hole?
    Could I manually rotate the engine to get oil up to that lifter bore? I'm not Super Man.
    Could I use the starter to crank the engine with the results of oil flowing up to the lifter bore? (Disable the fuel pump ofcourse).

    I hate second guessing myself. I just want to be sure the oil passage is not obstructed.

    Some info I learned today. My buddy says that before the constant ticking began happening, it would to tick for a few minutes and then the sound would go away. Could this 'on-again-off-again' ticking be happening as a result of the piston slowly rotating inside the lifter body? I know that on non-roller lifters, the entire lifter spins in the bore. But with roller lifters, the lifter bodies do not spin......but what about the internal pieces within the lifter body.

    I'm thinking: What if the oil psi check ball valve within the lifter has become slightly out-of-round. The entire lifter is constantly moving. Up, down, up, down. Maybe with a weak check ball spring.....maybe the ball is rotating in random directions and eventually the out-of-round section of the check ball meets up with the valve orifice and due to its odd shape.....maybe it's not holding the psi and the ticking starts. Then the ball randomly rotates and seals properly once again which results in the ticking noise going away. Hmm.....I wonder what the specs are on the check ball. I do have some digital measuring devices.....though probably nothing that could detect any amount of defect in the check ball.....it's basically a tiny roller ball (bearing).

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    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    Honestly it's not worth trying to just replace one lifter. LS7 lifters for a set of 16 are about $100 and are the stock replacement for all LSx motors.

    This
    My buddy says that before the constant ticking began happening, it would to tick for a few minutes and then the sound would go away
    is classic sign of lifter failure.

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    So he paid $70 for (1) lifter from the dealership when (16) are $100 elsewhere? Wow lol.
    It's on jackstands.

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    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    Just checked again,

    WS6store has a set of 16 for $130.
    Part # 12499225


    Hell my set of BTR Lifters (set of 16) cost cost $200. Only reason I went with LS7's for the 403 is because I wasn't sure if the rod failure trashed them. Better safe then sorry later. I may try to break them down and see if they are still good on day.
    Last edited by SMWS6TA; 09-03-2015 at 09:37 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 35th-ANV-SS View Post
    So he paid $70 for (1) lifter from the dealership when (16) are $100 elsewhere? Wow lol.
    That is disturbingly funny.

    But I guess I can see why the dealership has to charge so much for thier parts......when I went into the dealership, it looked like I stepped into an automobile mansion, complete with waterfalls, cars encased in rotating glass displays and about a dozen gigantic 3D tv's, etc...

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    Sorry....but hey know you know


    I'll spend days looking for something before I go to the dealership.....

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    Every now and then the dealership will actually be the best price. I shopped all over creation for a fuel pump for our '07 Suburban and I bought an AC Delco for around $30 less than the Cardone version at the chain parts store.

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    Ok, well, I got the new lifter installed......fired the motor up and everything is running nice and smooth. The new lifter was ticking for the first 15 seconds of operation, but then the sound went away.

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    Spaz is My Mentor SMWS6TA's Avatar
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    that's normal, glad you fixed it, sorry it was more then you needed to pay. But hey now you know.

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    Moderator Firebirdjones's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pajeff02 View Post
    Every now and then the dealership will actually be the best price. I shopped all over creation for a fuel pump for our '07 Suburban and I bought an AC Delco for around $30 less than the Cardone version at the chain parts store.
    Not to mention there are a ton of things the dealership is going to have that chain stores do not. So unless you like snooping around junk yards, dealerships do have their usefulness.

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    Good work on the fix.

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    Here is a picture of the new HG that I installed at my house.....Kind of a bad picture, I coated the HG with an aerosol copper spray......supposedly the copper spray promotes better heat transfer. I have never used this kind of spray before. Is this the normal thing to do these days. The last GM head gasket I changed was on a (4.2 inline 6 cylinder) 2005 Chevy Trailblazer, I didn't use the copper spray on it and that Trailblazer has already rolled off 10k + miles without any problems.




    This is as clean as I got the engine.....I wonder if the discoloration at the end of the cylinder head (around the coolant passage) is a sign that the HG was beginning to fail??? The HG actually blocks off this coolant passage. There IS a wrong way to install the HG.


    The cylinder head after cleaning....ready to be bolted down. I did install new valve guide seals. I bought them from a machine shop....they were new, left over from one of the shops engine builds. 5 bucks.




    The bad lifter.....I suspect the check ball or the check ball sealing surface was the culprit reason the lifter not keeping oil psi. Is it also possible that a weak check valve spring could also cause the lifter to compress?

    This lifter is almost completely disassembled.

  20. #20
    Moderator Firebirdjones's Avatar
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    Usually head gaskets go on dry most of the time and that's how I do it here. It doesn't hurt to use a copper spray, and permatex makes a high tach spray adhesive good for this too.

    Only time I've ever used it is when assembling an older classic engine where I'm using a plain steel .015" shim head gasket for tight quench, I usually spray them with a little high tach just for added insurance.


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