How Long Can You Drive with Bad Lifters: Guide to Know

Introduction to the topic

If you’re like the majority of motorists, you probably don’t give much thought to your vehicle. Simply getting in and turning the key will get you going. But what if your car suddenly refused to crank one day? It’s because the lifters, a crucial component of your engine, have stopped functioning.

There’s no need to replace the lifters in your car if they’re not working properly. However, it is not recommended because doing so can make the disease worse. The engine may misfire, waste gas, or make a ticking noise if the lifters are malfunctioning. To a large extent, the situation can be improved by adjusting the lifters. However, if the damage is serious, replacement lifters might cost between $500 and $1,000.

What are a car’s lifters?

Lifters are connected to the camshaft by a push rod, and are often housed in the top parts of the cylinder heads, where they may be pushed up or down by the engine oil. When the piston moves, the valves open and close in response to this motion.

About three thousand pounds, or 1.5 tonnes, is the typical vehicle’s weight. That’s not a lot when compared to some of the bigger and heavier cars out there, but it’s still a lot of weight.

It’s true that drivers can go years without adding anything to their cars’ weight capacities, but what happens in the interim? This is where the help of lifters is invaluable.

Typically, these components are mounted to the trunk, the back trunk lid, and the rear bumper to alleviate stress on those regions during normal driving.

Lifters serve multiple functions and can forestall damage in the here and now as well as in the future. A clogged lifter will be useless because it is connected directly to an eccentric shaft in the camshaft and controls engine timing.

A clogged or dirty lifter is likely the cause of any knocking sounds you experience while driving. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye out for soiled lifts and give them the periodic cleaning they need to keep working.

What is the mechanism of action of hydraulic lifters?

In order to raise heavy loads, a hydraulic lifting mechanism uses pressurised fluid and an applied pressure difference. To do this, a rod and belt are used to facilitate an eccentric rotating motion, which in turn slides a piston back and forth in a cylinder.

To lift something, the rod can be used to pull on the belt, which in turn generates force at one end of the cylinder and pushes on an object or another component at the other end.

When your engine loses power, hydraulic lifters can fill the void with a cushion of air. To give you an idea, if the walls of your cylinder remain stationary while your piston rod goes up and down, a little gap will form at either end of the rod.

The piston can damage the engine by striking this region if the engine’s ratio is too low for that amount of motion.

The hydraulic lifters raise and lower the rod by more than 100% of its initial weight in some cases. All moving parts function more smoothly thanks to the high velocity and the extra weight provided by the fluid.

Some high-end engines use solid or mechanical lifters, however these are not the same as hydraulic lifters. These lifters are standard equipment for most vehicles, especially classics.

They are effective in lowering engine noise and can be utilised with a wide range of power plants and compression ratios. When a lifter is pressed, it does not always spring back to its original position immediately.

How long can you drive with faulty lifters?

Just how long can you go on the road with broken lifters? If your lifters have failed or are failing, you shouldn’t drive more than 100 miles before taking your car in for repairs. If you keep driving with faulty or collapsed lifters, the inner part of the lifters could eventually come into touch with the camshaft, causing it damage.

When a lifter fails, its interior can sink all the way to where it makes contact with the camshaft. As a result, your camshaft may need replacing within the next 10,000 to 15,000 miles since the roller on the lifter rubs on it, potentially causing damage.

A ticking or tapping noise coming from the engine is the most telltale indicator of a malfunctioning lifter. This ticking sound can be intermittent or constant, depending on how often the lifter is used. Because it differs so drastically from the hum of a typical motor, it’s hard to miss.

Hydraulic Lifters: Warning Signs

Any unusual engine noises should be immediately investigated. Make sure to inspect the lifters if you notice any ticking, tapping, or clicking sounds coming from the motor. If you disregard this noise, it could result in significant and costly damage.

If your vehicle has defective lifters, you shouldn’t drive it more than 100 miles. Damage to the camshaft caused by defective or collapsed lifters is too great to overlook, especially considering the high cost of repairs.

What are the signs of a weak lifter in a vehicle?

Noise from the valve lifters isn’t the only sign of a bad hydraulic lifter.

1. Sticky Lifters

To avoid travelling up and down, a sticky lifter stays in its collapsed position. Because the oil pressure in the system drops when the lifter doesn’t move, the system can’t function properly. It will also cause the lifter’s inner workings to bang noisily against one another.

2. Increasing speed in engine

The lifter noise will get louder and more frequent when the engine speed is increased due to the malfunctioning parts.

3. Failure to attempts

A cylinder’s ability to mix and burn air and fuel is disrupted by a broken lifter. In such a case, cylinder misfiring occurs, resulting in diminished acceleration.

4. A cylinder that is not working

Because of the broken lifter, the pushrod will be bowed and eventually fall out of the sky. A dead cylinder can cause serious harm to the engine, including the failure of valves and rocker arms.

5 Indicator Lamp for Service

The warning light for the engine will start flashing as the condition gets worse. Error codes are displayed, so you may use them to pinpoint the issue.

What is the best method for cleaning lifters without taking them off?

If you’re not up for the challenge of removing the lifter, this simpler method of cleaning the dirty filter will do the work.

Rislone 4102 Concentrated Engine Treatment, Conditioner and cleanser helps eliminate the ruckus caused by a dirty or clogged lifter. The only time a replacement is necessary is if the lifter has totally collapsed and is broken.

I want to hear that awful ticking sound, therefore I’m going to start the engine. Because I am already in motion, I will start pouring the cleaner. This is a good solution for eliminating the sound of lifters and valves.

You should add this complete bottle to every five quarts of oil, as instructed on the bottle’s reverse side. Please put the entire bottle into your oil tank;

After that, drive for at least 10 to 15 minutes if possible. That engine block is going to give it a test drive.

Watch What happens when you keep driving on stuck lifter | Video

People also ask questions and answers related to How long can you drive with bad lifters

Can a defective lifter ruin an engine?

Because of the broken lifter, the pushrod will be bowed and eventually fall out of the sky. A dead cylinder can cause serious harm to the engine, including the failure of valves and rocker arms.

How about if my lifter is ticking?

At first, the sound of a ticking lifter might not bother you, but after some time, it could drive you insane. Additionally, it may be a precursor to a more significant issue that needs to be fixed before any big work can be done. Moreover, the ticking of a lifter might be a harmful distraction when driving.

How much does a new lifter typically cost?

Somewhere between a thousand and two thousand five hundred dollars
Having to replace a lifter or lifters is an expensive and time-consuming fix. Having a professional conduct the work typically costs between $1, 000 and $2, 500. It’s important to note that specifics like your vehicle’s year, make, and model will affect the final price.

Do loud lifts pose any danger?

The underlying issue causing the lifter noise in your engine can disrupt the operation of other components if the problem is not addressed as soon as possible. Your car may have major long-term issues and damage as a result.

How does a weak weightlifter sound?

A noisy engine is the most noticeable sign of a defective hydraulic lifter. The defective lifter usually makes a distinctive noise. A malfunctioning hydraulic lifter will typically generate a tapping sound rather than a knock or ping.


If your hydraulic lifter is acting up, you can use these methods to pinpoint the problem, reduce the noise, and perhaps even repair it. You should act quickly if you observe any of these problems with your car. You can cause expensive engine damage by ignoring them.

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