The combustion engine has many fine-tuned components that make up it’s complex structure. These include, but are not limited to, the pistons, spark plugs, valves, camshafts and the timing belt/chain. Among these intricately designed components is the lifter. The lifter is an integral part of your engine’s valve train system. It is the component that actually creates the up and down motion of the valves during an internal combustion cycle, without it your engine would be more like a bumper car than a finely tuned machine.
They have the responsibility to keep your valves in their correct position at all times. They are spring-loaded and have oil pressure behind them to maintain the correct clearance between the lifter and the camshaft lobe.
The life span of these parts can vary greatly upon driving conditions. If you regularly drive on back roads or on short city trips, the engine oil may not be able to reach all of the components. If you are a hard driver, more of the parts will be exposed to more wear and tear. Engine oil is important for lifters especially because they are made from brass, steel or bronze alloy. These metals are softer than your pistons and valves, so regular oil changes can prolong their life significantly.
The cost to replace lifters is expected to be on average between $100 and $125 per lifter. More information about costs will be discussed further down in the article.
What Are Lifters In A Car?
Lifters are found in the valve train of your engine and are necessary for proper operation. They work in conjunction with the camshaft to lift your car’s valves so that combustion can take place. When you rev up your engine, the lifter opens up your throttle body or carburetor valves so that fuel can enter into the combustion chamber. The very same process happens on the intake stroke as well during which point more air is sucked into the cylinder than gasoline alone could provide.
There are two types of lifters that you may have in your engine.
The most common is a hydraulic lifter that is externally pressurized by oil from the motor’s sump. Hydraulic lifters are more popular because they require no maintenance and do not open and close with valves, which can lead to increased friction between parts.
Solid lifters on the other hand are not externally pressurized and require external valves inside of the lifter. These are mostly used in vintage cars that belong to car clubs that participate in displacement classes, or they can be found on racing cars that need advanced valve timing systems.
Both types of lifters work under moderate pressure created by one’s camshaft lobe. The upward motion of the valves is caused by the downward motion of the lobes, which is why you will hear your engine make a ticking noise when idling; this is due to each part working together.
Symptoms of a Bad Lifter
The following signs indicate that one or more of your lifters may be going bad.
Engine Lifter Noise (Ticking)
You will notice a ticking noise coming from the engine itself. This is a sign that a valve does not have proper clearance with its corresponding lobe, which can cause severe damage if left unattended.
Rough Running and Misfiring
If you experience a rough running engine or misfires, you most likely have a bad lifter. This is because the engine is not firing under proper compression which can cause ignition problems. In more advanced cases, you may experience a loss of oil pressure if your engine is low on fluid.
Illuminated Check Engine Light
The Check Engine Light or Service Engine Soon light may turn on as sensors in your car indicate a problem with the fuel delivery system.
What does it Cost to replace Lifters?
The cost is varied as the number of lifters in each engine varies depending upon its make and model, most use between one to four but some high-performance engines may use upwards of six or eight per side. Some automobiles have a chain-driven camshaft while others use a belt to power it.
Lifter Replacement Cost: The cost of replacing lifters will vary widely depending on where you live and what type of car you drive. Costs for this replacement part can range from $150 to $300 dollars for each lifter replaced on some vehicles.
The labor costs for this type of work will vary as well. Some engines are easy to access, while others require special tools and equipment to reach them. You can expect to pay between $100 and $150 dollars per hour for the service itself.
If you replace the entire set of lifters you can expect to pay in total roughly around $650 dollars, as the price for valves and compression parts differ as well.
Can you drive a car with a bad lifter?
Technically speaking, you may be able to drive your car that has a faulty lifter. However, you should be aware of the possibility that the engine may seize up.
Can a lifter tick damage your engine?
In truth, a ticking noise can indicate big problems for your engine. If you have a bad lifter, you need to replace it immediately because the damage will become more and more severe over time.
Is a lifter tick expensive to fix?
The cost for this kind of repair has a higher price range than some others because you’ll need to replace each individual part in the cylinder head.
Are lifters hard to replace?
Replacing your lifters is a difficult process that requires you to have special tools and equipment. This is because you’ll need to remove several components in order to access each lifter.
In summary, when you hear a ticking noise from your engine, it could mean that you have a bad lifter. Replacing this part can cost anywhere between $150 and $300 dollars each. An entire set replacement can cost upwards of $1000 dollars. Symptoms that may indicate a bad lifter are engine noise, rough running or misfiring problems, illuminated check engine light turning on, and an oil pressure problem. Our recommendation is to get your car checked out by an expert mechanic to see if you do need new lifters or if there are other problems at play.