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how long can you drive with bad lifters

How Long Can You Drive with Bad Lifters?

Did you ever noticed some strange noises coming out from your car’s engine? That must be a sign of your car’s bad filter problem. Bad filters may potentially cause serious damage to your car’s engine while lifting. Many people who have faced bad filters ask me as to how long can they drive with bad lifters?

Its understandable that due to many reasons one may have to carry on with bad filters before going to the service station. In this article, we’re gonna discuss about bad lifters, their potential harms, best air filters and of course if you shall drive with bad filters and how long before you get them replaced.

how long can you drive with bad lifters?

How Long Can You Drive with Bad Lifters?

Here is your answer, you can drive your car for a maximum of 80-100 miles with bad lifters. To avoid this issue of bad lifter you must fix this issue as soon as possible. Continuing to drive with bad lifters can lead to a backfiring engine, decreased fuel efficiency, even engine failure, reduced engine performance, and Difficult to ignition and at worst in engine failure.

Table About How Long Can You Drive With Bad Lifters?

Condition How long can you drive with bad lifters?
Mild Up to 80-100 miles
Moderate Not recommended to drive for long distances
Severe Not recommended to drive at all
Repair Have lifters repaired or replaced ASAP

There are two types of lifters

hydraulic and solid. Hydraulic lifters use oil pressure for clearance adjustment between the valve and the rocker arm, while solid lifters require manual adjustment.

Most engines utilize hydraulic lifters for their self-adjusting nature, maintaining correct clearance as long as there’s sufficient oil pressure. In contrast, solid lifters need periodic adjustments to ensure proper functioning.

Here are some ways to detect a faulty hydraulic lifter

1. Ticking noise

A common sign of a faulty hydraulic lifter is a ticking or tapping noise coming from the engine. The noise can be heard from the top of the engine and may be more pronounced when the engine is cold.

2. Reduced engine performance

A faulty hydraulic lifter can also cause a reduction in engine performance, such as a loss of power, rough idling or acceleration, and even stalling. This is because a faulty lifter can disrupt the valve timing and cause misfires in the engine.

3. Engine warning light

A malfunctioning hydraulic lifter can trigger the engine warning light to turn on. This can indicate a problem with the engine’s performance, and it’s important to have it checked as soon as possible.

4. Low oil pressure

A faulty hydraulic lifter can also cause a drop in oil pressure, which can be detected by the oil pressure gauge. Low oil pressure can cause engine damage, so it’s important to address this issue quickly.

5. Poor fuel economy

A faulty hydraulic lifter can also cause poor fuel economy, as the engine has to work harder to compensate for the valve timing issue.

6. Difficulty starting the engine

A malfunctioning hydraulic lifter can cause difficulty in starting the engine, as it can disrupt the compression of the engine.

If you notice any of these signs, it’s important to have your vehicle inspected by a mechanic to determine if a faulty hydraulic lifter is a problem.

Adjusting Lifters

1. For solid lifters, periodic adjustments are crucial for optimal functioning. The process involves a few tools:

2. Remove the valve cover to access the lifters.

3. Locate adjustment screws on each lifter.

4. Use feeler gauges to check the clearance between the rocker arm and the valve.

5. If necessary, use a socket wrench to loosen the locknut, adjust the screw, then tighten the locknut.

6. Recheck clearance after adjusting all lifters, and restart the engine. Consult a mechanic if the noise persists.

Cost of Lifter Replacement

The replacement cost depends on factors like your car’s make, model, and whether you choose DIY or professional service. Expect an average range of $500 to $1000 for parts and labor. If bad lifter symptoms arise, prompt attention is crucial to prevent costly future repairs.

Tools needed for lifter replacement

1. Socket wrench

2. Feeler gauges

3. Screwdriver

Replacement lifters

The process involves removing the valve cover, loosening hold-down bolts, replacing old lifters with lubricated new ones, tightening bolts to the specified torque, reattaching the valve cover, and restarting the engine. Seek professional diagnosis if the noise persists.

Preventing Lifter Issues

Change oil regularly to remove debris.

Use the recommended oil type to avoid issues like lifter failure.

Avoid excessive additives in oil, following instructions carefully.

Maintain proper oil levels, as overfilling can lead to lifter failure.


Q1. Can You Drive with Bad Lifters?

Yes, driving with bad lifters is possible but not recommended due to potential engine damage. Prompt fixing is advised.

Q2. How Long Do Lifters Last?

Lifters typically last 30,000 to 100,000 miles, varying based on usage. High-performance activities may reduce their lifespan.

Q3. What Causes Lifters to Go Bad?

Common causes include wear and tear, debris buildup, and aging.

Q4. What Happens When Lifters Fail?

Engine smoothness decreases, accompanied by noise, misfires, or stalling in severe cases.

Q5. Are There Aftermarket Lifters?

Yes, aftermarket lifters exist, offering performance enhancements and budget-friendly options.

Q6. Do All Cars Have Lifters?

Different engine types use various lifters, such as hydraulic or solid, based on fuel and performance requirements.

Q7. What Types of Lifters Are Used in Hybrids?

Most hybrids use hydraulic lifters for consistent valve timing and reduced engine noise.

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