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How Long Does It Take To Replace Lifters?

Mac Aaron | Last updated Wednesday, May 17th, 2023

Discover the average time required, quick methods, step-by-step guide, and expert tips for efficient lifter replacement. Learn about the tools, common mistakes to avoid, and the cost and time analysis involved.

Lifters play a crucial role in engine operation, serving as essential components that facilitate the smooth functioning of various mechanical systems. These small devices are responsible for the precise opening and closing of engine valves, ensuring optimal timing and synchronization.

The process of replacing lifters can be time-consuming, typically taking anywhere from 7 to 15 hours.

Without lifters, the engine's performance would be severely compromised, resulting in reduced power output and efficiency. Recognizing the signs of worn lifters and replacing them in a timely manner is crucial for maintaining engine efficiency and preventing further damage.

Factors Affecting Lifter Replacement Time

Dealing with lifter replacement, several factors come into play, influencing the time required for the entire process. These factors include the complexity of the engine design, accessibility of the lifters, the number of lifters needing replacement, and the experience of the mechanic performing the task.

Engines with intricate designs or limited accessibility may take longer to disassemble, increasing the overall replacement time. Additionally, the more lifters that need replacement, the more time-consuming the process becomes.

Finally, the expertise and familiarity of the mechanic with the specific engine model can impact the efficiency of the replacement process.

Considering all these factors, the average time frame for lifter replacement generally falls between 7 to 15 hours. However, it's important to note that this is just an estimate and can vary in practice.

Complex engine designs or engines with a high number of lifters may push the replacement duration towards the upper end of the range. Additionally, unforeseen challenges or complications that arise during the process can further extend the time required.

How Do I Know If My Lifters Are Bad?

Lifters are critical components in an engine's valve train system, and when they start to fail, it can have a noticeable impact on engine performance. Here are several signs that indicate your lifters may be bad and in need of attention.

1. Noises

One of the most common indicators of bad lifters is abnormal noises coming from the engine. If you hear a ticking or tapping sound that increases with engine speed, it could be a sign of worn or faulty lifters.

These noises are typically caused by excessive lash or clearance between the lifters and the camshaft. Ignoring such noises can lead to further damage to the engine, making it crucial to address the issue promptly.

2. Low Performance

Bad lifters can result in decreased engine performance. You may notice a loss of power, reduced acceleration, or a decrease in fuel efficiency.

This is because faulty lifters can disrupt the timing and synchronization of the engine's valves, affecting the intake and exhaust processes. If you experience a noticeable decline in your vehicle's performance, it is advisable to have the lifters inspected.

3. Lifters Won't Move

In some cases, lifters can become stuck or fail to move properly. This can result from sludge buildup, oil contamination, or mechanical issues.

If you suspect this is happening, you can perform a simple test. With the engine off, press down on each rocker arm or valve lifter individually. If you find that a lifter is unresponsive or doesn't move as it should, it indicates a problem with that particular lifter.

4. Check Engine Light Is On

A malfunctioning lifter can trigger the vehicle's onboard diagnostics system, causing the check engine light to illuminate. The check engine light serves as a general warning for various engine issues, including problems with the valve train.

When the lifters are not functioning correctly, it can disrupt the engine's overall performance and trigger this warning light. It is important to have the engine codes read by a diagnostic tool to determine the specific issue causing the light to come on.

Quick and Efficient Lifter Replacement Methods

By optimizing the workflow and working efficiently, mechanics can save time and complete the task promptly. However, it is crucial to strike a balance between speed and accuracy to ensure proper lifter replacement.

One key technique is proper planning and organization. Before starting the replacement process, it's crucial to gather all the necessary tools and equipment. Having everything readily available will minimize time wasted searching for tools and ensure a smooth workflow.

Additionally, having a clear understanding of the engine design and lifter locations is essential. Familiarize yourself with the engine's layout, including the location of the intake manifold, valve covers, and other components that may need to be removed for lifter access. This knowledge will help streamline the disassembly process and save valuable time.

Another tip for faster lifter replacement is to work efficiently during disassembly and reassembly. Take care not to damage any components while removing them and keep track of the order and placement of parts. Labeling or photographing each step can help ensure a smooth reassembly process.

Using specialized tools can also speed up the lifter replacement process. For instance, magnetic pickup tools can make it easier to retrieve small parts or dropped fasteners, saving time and effort. Furthermore, using a valve spring compressor can simplify the removal and installation of valves, reducing the overall time required.

Step-by-Step Guide to Replacing Lifters

Lifter replacement steps requires a systematic approach to ensure a proper and effective replacement process. Follow these detailed instructions to successfully replace the lifters in your engine.

1. Gather Your Tools

Before starting, make sure you have all the necessary tools and equipment. This may include a socket wrench set, pliers, a torque wrench, a valve spring compressor, and a gasket scraper. Having everything readily available will streamline the process.

2. Locate the Lifters

Identify the location of the lifters in your engine. Refer to the engine's manual or use online resources specific to your engine model to determine their position.

3. Remove the Covers and Chain

Begin by removing the valve covers and any components obstructing access to the lifters. This may include the intake manifold, timing chain, or other relevant parts. Take care to label or document the order and position of removed parts for easy reassembly.

4. Pull Out the Camshaft

Carefully remove the camshaft, ensuring that it comes out smoothly without any damage. This step may involve loosening the retaining bolts or clips securing the camshaft.

5. Remove the Lifters

Inspect each lifter individually and remove them one by one. You may need to use a magnet or a specialized lifter removal tool to extract them from their housing.

6. Clean the Surrounding Area

Thoroughly clean the lifter bores and the surrounding area to remove any debris or old gasket material. Use a gasket scraper or a suitable solvent to ensure a clean and smooth surface for the new lifters.

7. Replace The Lifters

Install the new lifters into their respective bores. Ensure proper alignment and fitment, taking care not to force them into place. Lubricate the lifters with engine oil before installation.

8. Assemble the Parts

Reassemble the engine components in the reverse order of their removal. This includes reinstalling the camshaft, timing chain, valve covers, and any other parts that were removed earlier.

9. Apply Oil

After reassembling, apply engine oil to the lifters and other relevant components. This will provide initial lubrication and help prevent dry starts.

10. Test Your Engine

Once everything is reassembled and properly lubricated, start the engine and listen for any abnormal noises. Check for proper operation and ensure that the lifters are functioning as intended. Monitor the engine for any signs of leakage or issues during the initial running period.

Essential Tools and Equipment for Lifter Replacement

By having these tools on hand and utilizing the right equipment, mechanics can confidently undertake the lifter replacement task, ensuring accurate and reliable installation.

It is recommended to have a well-stocked toolbox or invest in a lifter replacement kit that includes all the necessary tools.

1. Socket Wrench Set

A socket wrench set is essential for removing and tightening various bolts and nuts during the lifter replacement process. It provides the necessary torque to secure components in place.

2. Pliers

Pliers are versatile tools that come in handy for various tasks. They can be used to grip and hold small parts, remove clips, or manipulate wires during the lifter replacement process.

3. Torque Wrench

A torque wrench is necessary to achieve proper tightening torque for critical fasteners. It ensures that bolts and nuts are tightened to the manufacturer's recommended specifications, preventing under or over-tightening.

4. Valve Spring Compressor

A valve spring compressor is a specialized tool used to compress the valve springs, allowing for the removal and installation of valves and lifters. It simplifies the process and ensures proper positioning of the valve components.

5. Gasket Scraper

A gasket scraper is used to remove old gasket material and debris from engine surfaces. It helps create a clean and smooth surface for proper sealing when reassembling components.

6. Lifter Removal Tool

A lifter removal tool is specifically designed to extract lifters from their housing without causing damage. It ensures a safe and efficient removal process, minimizing the risk of any potential issues.

Expert Tips for Efficient Lifter Replacement

Expert tips and recommendations play a crucial role in ensuring an efficient lifter replacement. By following the advice of experts, you can navigate the process with confidence and achieve optimal results.

These tips and recommendations can help you navigate the task with confidence and achieve optimal results.

1. Take Your Time

Lifter replacement requires precision and attention to detail. Rushing through the process can lead to mistakes or overlooked steps. Take the time to understand each step, refer to the engine manual if needed, and proceed methodically. This will help prevent errors and ensure a successful lifter replacement.

2. Keep Everything Organized

Organization is key during the lifter replacement process. Label or document the order and position of removed parts to facilitate easy reassembly. Use small containers or magnetic trays to keep screws, bolts, and other small components organized and prevent them from getting lost.

3. Cleanliness Is Crucial

Maintaining a clean work environment is essential during lifter replacement. Before beginning, clean the surrounding area to prevent debris from entering the engine. Additionally, keep components and tools clean to avoid introducing contaminants that could affect the performance of the new lifters.

4. Inspect Other Components

While replacing lifters, it is a good opportunity to inspect other related components such as pushrods, camshaft lobes, and valve springs. Look for signs of wear or damage and address any issues found. It's better to address potential problems proactively rather than encountering them later.

5. Follow Manufacturer Guidelines

Refer to the manufacturer's guidelines and recommendations throughout the lifter replacement process. This includes torque specifications, lubrication requirements, and any specific instructions related to your engine model. Adhering to these guidelines ensures proper installation and operation of the new lifters.

6. Use High-Quality Replacement Lifters

Invest in high-quality replacement lifters to ensure durability and performance. Cheap or subpar lifters may fail prematurely or adversely affect engine performance. Consult with a reputable supplier or seek expert advice to ensure you are using the appropriate lifters for your specific engine model.

Common Mistakes to Avoid During Lifter Replacement

Since lifter replacement is a delicate task that requires precision and attention to detail, it is crucial to be aware of common mistakes and pitfalls that can occur. By avoiding these errors, you can prevent potential problems and complications.

1. Insufficient Preparation

One common mistake is starting the lifter replacement process without proper preparation. This includes not having all the necessary tools, not reviewing the engine manual or manufacturer guidelines, or not ensuring a clean work area. Lack of preparation can lead to delays, mistakes, and frustration.

2. Improper Lifter Identification

Using the wrong type or size of lifters can have detrimental effects on the engine's performance. It is essential to identify the correct lifters for your engine model and ensure they are compatible. Consult the engine manual or seek expert advice to avoid this mistake.

3. Inadequate Cleaning

Failing to thoroughly clean the lifter bores and surrounding areas can lead to contamination and potential damage. Ensure that all debris, old gasket material, and contaminants are removed before installing the new lifters. Cleanliness is crucial to maintaining the integrity and proper functioning of the lifters.

4. Overlooking Related Components

During the lifter replacement process, it is important to inspect and address the condition of other related components. Ignoring worn or damaged pushrods, valve springs, or camshaft lobes can result in poor performance or premature lifter failure. Take the time to inspect and replace any components showing signs of wear or damage.

5. Incorrect Installation

Improper installation of the lifters is a common mistake that can lead to engine problems. Ensure that the lifters are properly aligned, seated, and secured in their designated bores. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines for torque specifications and sequence to prevent issues.

6. Neglecting Lubrication

Lubrication is essential for the proper functioning and longevity of the lifters. Failing to apply adequate lubrication during the installation process can result in premature wear and failure. Use the recommended engine oil or assembly lubricant to ensure smooth operation.

Analyzing Lifter Replacement Cost and Time

Analyzing the cost and time involved in lifter replacement allows you to have a clear understanding of what to expect in terms of expenses and the duration of the process. By considering these factors, you can plan your budget and schedule accordingly.

The cost of lifter replacement can vary depending on several factors, including the type of engine, the brand and quality of the lifters, and labor charges if you opt for professional installation.

On average, the cost of replacement lifters can range from $50 to $200 per lifter, depending on the engine model and brand. It is recommended to invest in high-quality lifters to ensure durability and performance.

DIY Lifter Replacement vs. Professional Service

Deciding between DIY lifter replacement and professional service requires careful consideration of the pros and cons associated with each approach. Each approach has its own set of pros and cons that you should consider before making a decision.

DIY Lifter Replacement

Doing the lifter replacement yourself can be a cost-effective option, especially if you have some mechanical experience and the necessary tools. Here are the pros and cons of DIY lifter replacement:


  • Cost Savings: By performing the replacement yourself, you can save on labor costs associated with professional services.
  • Learning Experience: DIY lifter replacement allows you to gain hands-on experience and knowledge about your engine's components.
  • Convenience: You have control over the timing and pace of the replacement process.


  • Time and Effort: Lifter replacement can be a complex task that requires patience, time, and attention to detail.
  • Limited Expertise: Unless you have extensive mechanical knowledge, you may face challenges troubleshooting any issues that arise during the process.
  • Potential Errors: Without professional guidance, there is a risk of making mistakes that could lead to further engine problems.
Professional Lifter Replacement

Opting for professional lifter replacement offers its own advantages and disadvantages. Consider the following:


  • Expertise and Experience: Professionals have specialized knowledge and experience in lifter replacement, ensuring accurate diagnosis and efficient repair.
  • Time Savings: Professional mechanics are equipped with the necessary tools and expertise, allowing for a quicker and more streamlined replacement process.
  • Warranty Coverage: Some professional services may offer warranties on their work, providing peace of mind in case any issues arise post-replacement.


  • Higher Costs: Professional services come with labor costs, which can be higher than the expenses involved in DIY lifter replacement.
  • Dependency: You will need to schedule an appointment and rely on the availability of the service provider.
  • Lack of Personal Involvement: If you enjoy working on your engine and learning new skills, you may miss out on the hands-on experience by opting for professional service.
Can You Drive With A Bad Lifter?

The answer is generally no, as driving with a faulty lifter can lead to various issues that can impact your engine's performance and longevity.

A bad lifter can cause several problems. First, it can result in engine noise, which can be quite noticeable and disturbing. The lifter may produce ticking, tapping, or knocking sounds as it fails to properly open and close the valves. This noise not only affects the driving experience but also indicates an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

Furthermore, a bad lifter can lead to reduced power and performance. When a lifter fails to operate correctly, it affects the valve timing and disrupts the combustion process. This can result in decreased engine efficiency, decreased acceleration, and reduced overall power output.

Driving with a bad lifter for an extended period can also potentially cause damage to other engine components. The abnormal wear and tear caused by the faulty lifter can impact the camshaft, valve train, and even the cylinder walls.

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