Best way to quiet valve lifter ticking?

Assume the lifters we’re talking about can’t be adjusted and are on a single OHC engine.

I’ve heard that draining 1 quart of oil, adding 1 quart of ATF to the crankcase and then idling the engine for 10-15 minutes before doing a normal oil change is a good way to quiet lifter noise. Also heard that some people had success just using a regular motor flush product such as motor medic can work well too. Which of these methods is more effective?

As for oil additives (things to add after doing the flush and oil change) I’ve read good things about products such as rislone and lucas oil stabilizer. Was just seeing if anyone had experience with flush/additive products that worked well when it came to quieting down ticking lifters.

Obviously the best fix would be to replace the lifter(s) but multiple mechanics I’ve spoken to told me lifter noise isn’t a huge deal and engines can run tens of thousands of miles with lifter noise and they’re nothing but a slight annoyance due to the sound. So I figured why not see if anyone had product recommendations for quieting them down.

I had good results using Rislone in Chevy’s of the 50’s and 60’s.

Ohc or ohv?

I’d just add Sea Foam to the engine oil.


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Single OHC engine

I have had luck with Restore

If it’s an OHC wouldn’t the lifters be adjustable ??

Mustang 3 valve engine, roller followers, no adjustment at all.

What do you guys think? Pretty sure it’s a noisy valve lifter but almost sounds like a spark plug could be loose/knocking

I’m thinking lifter. Sticking roller thingy.

I have done atf, and I’ve done seafoam. Both worked. This was on an old cam in block Chevy 350, and I didn’t have anything to lose. Had 450 dollars in the whole truck. I did seafoam first. However, when I changed the oil, the lifter noise returned. ATF was on the shelf, so I dumped 1/2 quart in, along with the regular engine oil. I had to leave the trans fluid in the engine to stop the noise. If I put no atf in the oil, the lifter would stick at startup and the noise would return. I only had the noise on a cold start, though. It wasn’t constant. But it was loud and obvious.

I think if I were you I’d try synthetic oil and see if it helps. I wouldn’t really advise atf or seafoam. Might be ok for a flush before you change the oil, but I doubt it’ll help.

I am no expert on these engines, but, I did watch a YouTube video once! The guy had a similar noise, isolated it to one valve cover, removed the valve cover, located the sticking roller, and replaced it. It looked completely doable to my shadetree self.

Is “roller” another name for a lifter? Or is it referring to something else?

Roller lifters.


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The Basics of Valve Lifters and Beyond - Engine Builder Magazine.

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I think this is a diagram of the head. #24 is the hydraulic lifter.

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I think this is the video I watched. Guy may be a hack for all I know. But, it’ll at least give you a look underneath the valve cover.

Yes, ATF or Marvel Mystery Oil as can Sea Foam can quieten a lifter. It’s worth a few bucks to see if it will work or not.

If the lifter does not shut up it’s possible that the lifter (sometimes called a hydraulic lash adjuster) may be damaged on the tip by infrequent oil changes. In a case like that the only fix is to replace it; and this means the full set.
At that point the cam lobes should also be carefully inspected as chronic valve lifter tapping can damage the lobe; or lobes.
And hopefully the rocker roller bearings are not beaten… :frowning:


Good point, these aren’t ‘lifting’ the valves, their only purpose is to adjust the valve lash.

With the popularity of OHC engines, the name should be changed to “valve pusher downers”. They really haven’t been lifters since the days of side valve engines.


True, but these don’t move at all, they’re just an adjustable rest for the end of the rocker arm.

“Lifter” is a misnomer for these applications, those are lash adjusters and cam followers, just like in the 2.3 L Pinto engine.