4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?
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HT4100 4.1, 4.5, 4.9 Discussion, 4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter? in Cadillac Engine Technical Discussion; ...
  1. #1
    bandit600 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?

    Over the past few weeks, my engine has been making a ticking noise. Iím fairly certain itís a lifter. Iíve had a hydraulic lifter go on another engine before and it sounds similar.

    Here are the details: It started making just a little noise on cold start-ups and would go away after a couple of seconds. At first, I thought it was an accessory, since it was similar in sound to when my alternator went. But itís been getting progressively worse and now sounds like itís inside the engine. (Iíve also eliminated the accessories as the culprit by relieving tension on the belt).

    It makes more noise the colder the outside temperature. It only gets better after the engine warms up from driving. The sound used to be really loud at start-up then would practically disappear once the engine was up to temperature.

    Now, it doesnít sound as loud at start-up (but I attribute that to the fact itís been much warmer out recently, just below or around freezing point) but it is still noticeable even after the engine warms up. It doesnít get any louder depending on engine speed or load, so itís not detonation. I tried a few WOT runs since I read somewhere that it might be carbon build-up, but that didnít do anything.

    When it was extremely cold out a couple of weeks ago (-20 C / -4 F) the exhaust would pop a few times and it ran extremely rough for a few seconds. I figure a valve wasnít operating correctly due to a sticky lifter.

    Right now Iím running 5w 30 Mobil 1 (non-synthetic) which was changed around Christmas, the car has about 138k miles on it. Oil level was a little low this week, topped it up and no difference.

    Iím leery about adding any kind of additives to the oil, I donít want to dislodge any crud and make it worse. I was thinking of taking of the valve covers off this weekend and checking the rockers to look for wear, and verify they are getting enough oil. I think this engine has roller rockers (roller cam/lifters also?) and arenít adjustable, but is there an acceptable gap to look for between the rockers and valve stems? Anything else I should look for?

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  3. #2
    carnut is online now Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: 4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?

    An exhaust leak can sound just like a lifter tick and will quiet down just like a lifter as it warms up. Verify its not an exhaust leak first. If its a lifter, a pint of ATF trans fluid in the oil can clean a lifter. Cannt hurt, as long as you dont overfill the crankcase. The ATF should help within 100 miles.

  4. #3
    bandit600 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: 4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?

    I thought of the exhaust leak also, i did a quick check one morning to see if that was it, and didn't notice anything, but i'll do a more thorough investigation this weekend.

    Should I change the oil after adding the ATF, or can I keep it mixed in until my next scheduled oil change?

  5. #4
    Submariner409's Avatar
    Submariner409 is offline If it won't run, stick on fender vents
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    Re: 4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?

    A pint of DEXRON-III won't hurt it because it's merely a very high detergent 10W hydraulic oil. You can leave it in the engine for a while, BUT if your tick goes away, change the oil and filter ASAP.

    Don't make a habit of this old trick: Light bodied high detergent oils tend to exacerbate small leaks...................

  6. #5
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    Ranger is offline Cadillac Owners Member
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    Re: 4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?

    Quote Originally Posted by bandit600 View Post
    I’m running 5w 30 Mobil
    That engine is spec'd for 10W30.

  7. #6
    bandit600 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: 4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger View Post
    That engine is spec'd for 10W30.
    Yes, I know, but when it gets down to -20 in the winter here, I find it turns over much better with 5w 30. I always go back to 10w when it warms up (next oil change).

  8. #7
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    Re: 4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?

    I've started engines for years with 10W30 at -20F without any problems (I still use it). Maybe that 5W is too thin for that flat tappet rubbing element engine and is the cause of your problem. 5W was not spec'd for the Northstar until it went to roller followers. I would bet it is not spec'd for ANY flat tappet engine.

  9. #8
    drewsdeville is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: 4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?

    I'm pretty sure the manual states that 5W-30 is acceptable in those temperatures.

  10. #9
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    Re: 4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?

    A synthetic 10w will usually start better than a conventional 5w in cold weather.

  11. #10
    bandit600 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: 4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?

    I am using the 5w version of the following oil.
    http://www.mobil.com/Canada-English/...lSuper2000.asp
    It is not synthetic. According to Mobil, it has extra detergents to fight sludge and sticking valves. But to what extent does it really work? and how well compared to treating the oil with ATF?

    Anyways, until I can rule out an exhaust leak, I'm going to wait before I do any oil treatments or open up the valve covers.

  12. #11
    bandit600 is offline Cadillac Owners Fanatic
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    Re: 4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ranger View Post
    I've started engines for years with 10W30 at -20F without any problems (I still use it). Maybe that 5W is too thin for that flat tappet rubbing element engine and is the cause of your problem. 5W was not spec'd for the Northstar until it went to roller followers. I would bet it is not spec'd for ANY flat tappet engine.
    I know that you know a lot about these cars and engines, but i was under the impression that the 4.9l is a full roller engine. Rockers and cam/lifters. All the parts on Rockauto and all the other info i've looked up indicate it as hydraulic roller, not hydraulic flat tappet.

    Am I wrong? Not that it has anything to do with my problem, but just curious.

  13. #12
    steelybill is offline Cadillac Owners Enthusiast
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    Re: 4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?

    Not to discourage you, but my Chevy pickup has had a few noisy roller lifters for a long time. and they are getting louder as time passes. I remove them, took them apart and cleaned them, but they are still noisy. Just poor production quality from some shop rat waiting for the lunch bell.
    Try some ATF like suggested. Can't hurt.

  14. #13
    drewsdeville is offline Cadillac Owners Master
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    Re: 4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?

    Quote Originally Posted by bandit600 View Post
    I know that you know a lot about these cars and engines, but i was under the impression that the 4.9l is a full roller engine. Rockers and cam/lifters. All the parts on Rockauto and all the other info i've looked up indicate it as hydraulic roller, not hydraulic flat tappet.

    Am I wrong? Not that it has anything to do with my problem, but just curious.
    You are correct, roller tappets were part of the "upgrade" from the 4.5 to 4.9, though it's not a complete roller valvetrain.

    The 4.1 and 4.5 were both flat tappet.

    I also suggest looking for an exhaust leak. Perhaps a homemade stethoscope made of vacuum hose will help you pinpoint the noise.

    I've run nothing but 10W-30 in my 4.X's and have never gotten any cold weather ticking here in WI. The one time I deviated and tried 15W-40 I got slow cranking and knocking but never any valvetrain noise from these engines.

  15. #14
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    Re: 4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?

    Quote Originally Posted by bandit600 View Post
    I know that you know a lot about these cars and engines, but i was under the impression that the 4.9l is a full roller engine. Rockers and cam/lifters. All the parts on Rockauto and all the other info i've looked up indicate it as hydraulic roller, not hydraulic flat tappet.

    Am I wrong? Not that it has anything to do with my problem, but just curious.
    I did not think it was, but apparently I was wrong. I stand corrected, sorry. Forget everything I said prior to this.

  16. #15
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    Re: 4.9l engine ticking noise: lifter?

    could you upgrade a 4.5 to roller or would that require a cam swap

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