The vehicle’s lifter or hydraulic valve lifter is a cylindrical device attached to the hydraulic valve using a rod dubbed the rocker arm. A fault with the car lifters manifests as a tapping, rattling, clicking, or ticking sound. The irritating noise can be continuous or can start and stop at specific points.
Synthetic oil will quiet noisy lifters if the noise is caused by dirty or insufficient oil. Synthetic oil won’t eliminate the noise if the noise is caused by damaged lifters or faulty installation of the lifters. Synthetic oil is a solution to noisy lifters only when an oil issue causes the fault.
This piece will explain how synthetic oil deadens lifter noise in certain conditions. It will also detail other ways to quieten noisy lifters.
Many drivers tend to ignore lifter noise as the car continues working in spite of the clicking sound. Unfortunately, failure to address lifter noise early can cause extensive motor damage.
In most cases, lifter noise can be resolved by changing the oil: dirty oil is the leading cause of the fault. As oil moves along the engine, it collects dirt, necessitating regular oil changes.
The sludge collected by the engine oil can clog the lifter, causing it to produce a sound. Engine oil doesn’t typically collect enough sludge to choke the engine lifters, but if you ignore scheduled oil changes, the oil will collect enough debris to hamper lifter movement.
Changing the oil will quieten the lifter noise caused by dirty oil. The fresh engine oil will clear the sludge, allowing the lifters to work unhampered, clearing that horrible clicking sound.
Conventional engine oil works, but most mechanics recommend filling your engine with synthetic oil, which cleans up dirt and sludge deposits faster. After an hour or so of running your engine using synthetic oil, it’ll have cleared most of the debris from the system.
Synthetic oil is manufactured from modified petroleum products, while conventional oil is simply refined crude oil. Conventional oil works well, but it lacks the numerous benefits of synthetic oil.
Using synthetic oil reduces the likelihood of oil sludge affecting the functioning of the lifters. Wear and tear between engine parts increases as the efficiency of the oil decreases. Friction between parts deposits debris into the oil, forming the dreaded sludge that causes lifter noise.
Synthetic oil works better and for longer as a lubricant, reducing wear and tear. Furthermore, synthetic oil contains fewer impurities than conventional oil, impeding sludge formation. Synthetic oil’s other benefits include resisting temperature changes and protecting turbo elements.
Low oil levels can also cause lifter noise. Therefore, you can resolve the problem by draining the existing oil and replacing it with synthetic oil. If the cause of your lifter problem is insufficient oil, have a mechanic find and plug the leak.
Otherwise, the issue will recur as the oil drains out, regardless of whether you top up with conventional or synthetic oil.
Synthetic oil is not a magic solution to a noisy lifter. If impurities in the oil or insufficient oil are the reasons behind the clicking, replacing or topping up with conventional oil will remedy the problem.
However, synthetic is a better solution to the issue. Like conventional oil, it will clear the debris hampering the seamless functioning of the lifters. Unlike conventional oil, it will offer longer-lasting protection to engine parts, including lifters.
You are less likely to encounter lifter issues when using synthetic oil.
Other Ways to Silence Noisy Lifters
If replacing the oil doesn’t work or isn’t an option you can explore, one of the following methods should silence noisy lifters.
Oil additives enhance the lubricating and cleaning capabilities of the engine oil. They are usually added to conventional oil to imbue it with some qualities of synthetic oil.
Oil additives can help silence noisy lifters by clearing the debris and deposits that might be hampering the lifters’ performance. If the clicking sound disappears after introducing additives to the system, it shows that the oil needs replacement.
You shouldn’t worry about using oil additives as they don’t change the oil’s viscosity. However, additives are a temporary solution. They boost the oil’s performance for a limited time, so if you continue running the same oil for an extended period, the lifters will start complaining again.
After clearing the problem with oil additives, endeavor to replace the oil with synthetic oil at your earliest convenience.
If replacing the oil or adding additives fails to clear the noise, the lifters are the most probable source of the issue. Before you replace the lifters, check whether the lifter spacing is within the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Lifters that aren’t installed at the correct clearance make noise as the engine runs. If there’s too much space between the camshaft, lifter, and pushrod, the parts won’t contact each other, causing a clicking noise. Also, if there’s too little space between the components, the valve stem will have no room for expansion, sparking lifter noise.
Even with the right equipment, it is difficult for an unskilled person to calibrate the lifters correctly. Therefore, let a mechanic handle recalibration of the lifters.
Car lifters are hardy and tend to last longer than most engine parts. However, if all other solutions fail, the lifters are likely worn.
The issue often appears in older cars with many miles on the odometer. I advise you to replace the entire lifter set: if one lifter is worn, it is highly likely that the others don’t have long to go before they start screaming out due to old age.
A hydraulic valve lifter tool is the only special equipment you need when replacing the lifters. Replacing the lifters isn’t difficult, but setting them at the correct clearance is challenging. As seen above, poorly installed lifters produce noise.
It would be frustrating for you to replace the lifters and fail to clear the lifter noise. Therefore, allow a professional to handle the job.
If lifter noise returns soon after you’ve changed the oil and replaced the lifters, you likely overlooked the oil filter. The oil filter removes the debris accumulating in the oil as it cleans the engine.
Synthetic oil has properties that reduce the accumulation of contaminants, but it needs an oil filter to prevent premature saturation with debris. Synthetic oil will last longer in an engine with a working oil filter. Without an oil filter, the oil gets contaminated faster, which can cause clogging of parts, including the lifters.
Changing the oil filter regularly enhances the cleaning properties of the engine oil.
It is possible that the lifters aren’t causing the noise coming from your engine. It is difficult for an inexperienced ear to differentiate between the noise caused by bent push rods and the sound of clogged or damaged lifters.
If the above solutions fail to remedy the noise, the push rods in your engine are likely bent and in dire need of replacement. Push rods open and close the valves.
Fortunately, push rods are inexpensive and easy to replace. After replacing the oil, lifters, and push rods, the clicking noise should go away.
Synthetic oil will quiet a noisy lifter if the noise is caused by clogged lifters or insufficient oil in the system. The oil clears debris from the lifters, allowing them to work unimpeded.
Synthetic oil won’t clear lifter noise if the source of the problem is damaged or poorly installed lifters. Nevertheless, fill your engine with synthetic oil to give better protection to parts that require constant oil lubrication, including the lifters.