How to Detect and Repair a Faulty Hydraulic Lifter

March 16, 2012

Hydraulic lifters aren't well known to many drivers, their effects are when they fail. Learn how to tell when a hydraulic lifter needs replacement.

Hydraulic Lifter Replacement

The hydraulic lifter in a car's engine uses oil pressure to adjust a plunger and take up all the clearance in the valve train. This helps to ensure less engine noise and longer reliability, due to less wear and tear. A faulty hydraulic lifter will usually result in the rocker arm, valve tip and push rod also going bad if left unattended. You need to know how to tell when they hydraulic lifter is going bad or needs to be replaced.

Signs of a Faulty Hydraulic Lifter
The most obvious symptom of a faulty hydraulic lifter is the noise it creates in your car's engine. You can usually distinguish the faulty lifter by the distinct sound. Instead of a knock or ping, a faulty hydraulic lifter will usually make a sound more reminiscent of a tapping sound. The tapping will be quick in rhythm and may occur when the vehicle is cold or hot, depending on what the problem with the hydraulic lifter is. The lifter may be having problems with a sticking check valve, dirt, wear or other problems.

What to Do If You Have a Faulty Hydraulic Lifter
If your car has a faulty hydraulic lifter, replace it as soon as possible to avoid further damaging your engine.

In most cases, a faulty hydraulic lifter will simply need to be replaced. You might be able to get away with replacing a single bad hydraulic filter depending on the make and model of your vehicle. However, many mechanics suggest that when replacing one lifter, you should go ahead and replace them all, because it's generally a good indication that others will soon fail.

Depending upon the age of your vehicle, you might consider using refurbished lifters in your vehicle rather than purchasing new ones. Refurbished hydraulic lifters will cost a lot less money and will usually do an adequate job for older used vehicles, which may not have many more years of service left in them.

Related Questions and Answers

What Are Some of the Most Popular Automotive Hydraulic Lift Manufacturers?

An automotive hydraulic lift can come in a number of different sizes. If you are interested in a standard two ton engine hoist, Craftsman makes a very popular model that can be purchased at your local Sears store or online. This hoist costs under $200 and is well regarded by industry experts. If you are looking for a professional floor lift, Rotary Lift makes a wide selection of products. Their lifts can lift an entire car off the floor, and their heavy duty lifts are used for semi trucks and buses. These lifts are professional grade, and very expensive.

What Tools Are Required to Make an Hydraulic Lifter Adjustment?

Doing a hydraulic lifter adjustment can be somewhat complicated, so if you are not comfortable under the hood of your car, it is best left to the professionals. A hydraulic lifter is designed to ensure that there is zero clearance in a valve train. This leads to a quieter operation of the engine. In the majority of engines there is an adjusting nut on the rocker arm that can be turned to adjust the clearances between the valves and lifter. In many cases, hydraulic lifters have to replaced instead of adjusted. Again, if you are uncomfortable doing this type of work, you should take the car to a pro, as if done incorrectly, it can damage the engine.

Where Can I Buy a Hydraulic Engine Lift?

You can buy a hydraulic engine lift at a number of places. The majority of auto supply stores sell lifts. You can even buy one from Amazon if you prefer to do your shopping online. Doing a Google search will bring up a number of websites that are happy to sell you an engine lift. These lifts are not super expensive. You can buy a two ton lift for under $200. This type of lift can be used to remove an engine that needs to be worked on or rebuilt. If you have extensive work that needs to be done on your vehicle's engine, a hoist will pay for itself in a matter of months.

What Is the Recommended Gauge Size for an Engine Hoist Chain?

The grade of chain depends on the weight you are lifting with your engine hoist chain. If you are using a typical two ton engine hoist, you should be using a hardened steel grade-80 chain. These chains are specially hardened and used for overhead lifting. These chains can be purchased online at specialty chain shops. While most big box retailers like Home Depot do not stock this type of chain, they can often special order it for you. STREN-FLEX is a great place to shop for chains. You can shop for a variety of different chain sizes and strengths.

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