Oil additives for noisy valve lifter

Tom and Ray: On a recent show, you recommended usage of any of the popular engine oil additives to fix a noisy valve lifter. I think you mentioned Marvel Mystery Oil by name. Since my '96 Dodge Ram has what sounds like a noisy lifter, I purchased that product. However, today I read an article from Road Rider Magazine (http://www.math.uwaterloo.ca/~rblander/snake_oil.txt) that argues convincingly that there is no reliable evidence that any of these products offers any benefit whatsoever, and that there is much reliable evidence to the contrary. Before I return my quart of Marvel Mystery Oil to the store and ask for a refund, I’d like your opinion on the attached article.


Chris R.

When I was in the Navy, I got a tour of duty in a staff command. While there, I submitted a point paper for a change in the rating structure. Now I was not the first person to have this idea, I’d been hearing from many people for the 14 years I had been in by then, but I was the first to submit the idea. It got a lot of attention from the Chief of Naval Operations, but before Congress would allow the Navy to implement it, it had to have an independent study.

The firm that did the independent study could not just submit the original idea, they had to modify it. When they got through with their study, it was screwed up so the Navy sent it back to them and told them to get the answer right this time. What I’m getting at is from this experience I learned that there is no such thing as an independent study. Someone is paying for it and they want their conclusions verified. They do not want the facts to get in the way.

Now to your problem. This article was based on using additives in a perfectly good engine. The claims by the producers of these products is that they allow your engine to perform better and longer. The conclusion of the article is that those products don’t do that. I think most people here will agree with that.

But your engine is not performing perfectly good, so the question is will any of these additives help. That was not discussed in this article, so the article does not apply to your situation. The problem is that so many thing could be causing your problem that maybe one of these products might help, but not likely.

However, I have seen a situation like yours, a car with a noisy lifter, “fixed” by using a can of 5 minute engine flush just before an oil change. Out of many, many noisy lifters I have heard and tried this on, it only worked once.

Other things that have worked on noisy hydraulic lifters have been adjustment (where possible), rocker replacement (the noise was not the lifter) and replacement.

keith’s right, it might work, probably won’t, but since you already have it you might as well try it. Just make sure you follow directions and don’t over fill the oil.

Also, Tom and Ray don’t answer questions here, just us car folk.

I recall that program. The caller stated his engine had not been operated in a long time and now it sounded noisy.

Ton & Ray suggested he first try an oil additive. Which one? “Anything that has the word “miracle” on its packaging!” After his brother snorted a few laughs, Ray named Rislone as the product of his choice.

Will it actually work for you? Who knows? Find out. Try your Marvel oil and follow up with Rislone. Can’t hurt. Let us know.

I have a 1972 Cub Low Boy 154. It has the C60 flat 4 cly. engine. I used Marvel oil in it. I had 1 cly that was using oil bad. Fouled the spark with oil. The guys on the tractor forum said to try it. I did and it worked. It took 2 oil changes for it to work.
I use Lucas oil treatment in my truck. I was unable to get some once and my lifers started to tick. I put it in the next oil change and it stopped ticking. If it is just a little gunk this can work and as steveF said it cant hurt.

Thanks, guys. Excellent advice from all. I’ll give the Mystery Oil a try and report back to you.

I am very skeptical of most engine oil additives but have had some luck quieting a noisy lifter with CD2 Oil Detergent with the partially black label or Gunk ValveMedic valve treatment.

Bardhal, Rislone, Marvel Mystery Oil, CD2, Wynn’s Friction Proofing and others that slip my mind have on occasion proved successful in freeing sticky lifters, valve stems and piston rings. Of course if the engines had been properly maintained most would never require such additives.