Whats the worst that can happen if I replace lifters only and not camshaft? - Jeep Wrangler Forum

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Old 01-05-2017, 09:06 PM   #1
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Whats the worst that can happen if I replace lifters only and not camshaft?

I keep reading these dire warnings to not replace just the lifters, because they are married to the camshaft and wear together. What kind of idiot engineer would make the lifter metal tougher than the head or cam metal? I just did my timing chain like 2 weeks ago, I dont want to take that all apart again. 151K miles
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Old 01-06-2017, 07:55 PM   #2
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Bueller? Bueller?

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Old 01-07-2017, 08:22 AM   #3
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Timing will still be correct but you may get some noise(ticking) due to the new rods not seating that well on an old cam shaft. "Tougher" metal does not mean no wear, it means less wear but the wear pattern on mating parts will match so only replacing one would mean they don't mate.

You won't grenade your engine but will you be happy if you spend all that time replacing lifters only to have an annoying tick at all RPM ranges? Idk if I would be ok with that even on a weekend woods righ
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Old 01-07-2017, 09:25 AM   #4
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be like changing a bearing and not the race, I'd say if you do that, I'd go for just doin the lifters. You good at rollin the dice? good luck bob
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Old 01-07-2017, 10:50 AM   #5
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The lifters and cam are ground with specific finishes so they wear together for a perfect running fit. That is why you use break in oil and run a new cam in at a specific RPM for several min on the first startup. The lifters even have a slight dome to them so they rotate in the bore. New lifters may mate up with the old cam and wear in fine. Most times they will. It is important once a lifter is matted to a certain lobe to return it to that position. Please buy quality lifters there is a lot of crap out there and new lifters sometimes clatter right out of the box, even name brand ones. Use break in oil
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Old 01-07-2017, 10:51 AM   #6
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The camshaft does not necessarily need to be replaced when replacing lifters, and often times is not. In the case of a 4 cylinder, especially, I would replace lifters without doing the camshaft since you can replace the lifters without removing the head. On a 6 cylinder the head needs to be pulled, but as long as the camshaft lobes are in good condition, I wouldn't replace it.

I'm sure that there are a lot of people that sell parts that would disagree, but even the fsm makes no recommendation of replacing a cam shaft with lifters.
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Old 01-07-2017, 11:07 AM   #7
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For one or more sticky lifters yes but if the cam end of lifter is badly worn away your cam lobe is also. Badly worn


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Old 01-07-2017, 01:18 PM   #8
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The dire warnings stem from the fact that doing only half of a repair saves you money only in the short term. Trust me, I've tried to save money on construction projects and other repairs for many years. Some out of choice, some because I had no choice, there was no extra money for it.

If you don't replace all the worn components, the worn items will wear the new components prematurely. They are designed to work together and wear together. If you keep the Jeep for a couple of years, you'll probably never know the difference, but you move the burden over to the next owner. My Jeep has just those kinds of issues.

You'll likely suffer no major catastrophes. Repairs are completed like this with regularity in automotive shops, choices are made, shortcuts are taken. However, if you are 20 miles from a road - on a trail - and a new lifter fails, getting your Jeep out will cost more than the parts you should have replaced.

It's all about the risk.
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Old 01-07-2017, 01:57 PM   #9
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Thanks for the replies guys. The reason I'm replacing lifters is that my engine is ticking badly and trying to figure it out. So here's the deal, it looks like before I bought this Jeep a year ago, the "mechanic" that sold it to me did the lifters, maybe the cam. I seem to remember that in the ad, but he said a lot of stuff in the ad.....

Anyway, last night I got 4 lifters out. All were gummed up, and to even get those 4 out I had to put the cover back on and heat up the engine, then use an 8lb magnet tool to push them up and down till they broke free. The other 4 are still pretty stick in there. How can I get them out?? Thinking of putting some solvent in there.

The 4 I got out were all brand new looking with no wear, but varnished on the bottom. Should I clean and reuse them or just go with the new ones?

And can I clean out my lifter bore with a brush while the engine is all assembled? Or should I just drop in new lifters and hope they don't varnish? How can I safely clean the bore hole?
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Old 01-07-2017, 03:10 PM   #10
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The WORST thing that could possibly happen is that you'd open up a portal to hell unleashing demons upon us all destroying everything we love on Earth.

But you'll probably be fine. Seriously I've never heard of having to replace a camshaft... they don't wear out. The only time I've seen them replaced is to get a higher performance cam with higher lift and longer duration. Suck more air in that motor.
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Old 01-07-2017, 05:49 PM   #11
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A lifter stuck in the engine is not a bad lifter. They may get a little varnish on the outside but that has noting to do with it making noise. A hydraulic lifter has an internal piston and check valve the purpose is to remove all free play in the pushrod valve train using the oil pressure from the pump. If the INTERNAL piston and or check valve gets sticky it can get stuck or bleed down and cause lifter clatter
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Old 01-08-2017, 02:29 AM   #12
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I think your ability to replace just the lifters is going to depend on the condition of the cam. It sounds like your lifters and lifter bores maybe gummed up. Engine running too hot? Dirtily oil? Makes me wonder. You could clean up the lifter bores carefully with a little lacquer thinner and a rag. The lifters can also be freed up by soaking them in a fluid I just cant remember what kind and working them up and down in this solvent?fluied using a push rod as a plunger until free and clean. I had a dickens of a time purging the air out of my cooling system and until I got it it clattered greatly but that means the top end was running warm and causing sticking which can result in varnish. Do you think you have good oil flow, and cooling? If you cleaned everything up used good detergent oil and went towards a lighter oil maybe that would work. It sucks to take things apart then have to do it over again. so much work. Ideally I think I would try to isolate the offending lifter with a stethoscope then disassemble, clean and inspect the lifters and replace only the offending ones if after cleaning you think they are still looking problematic. Make sure you know which bore they came out of and use proper break-in methods when installing new lifters. Bob Harrison
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Old 01-08-2017, 12:06 PM   #13
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If the lifters were sticking and noisy, then a pint of ATF in the oil will usually free up hydraulic lifters, but if the lifters are worn or collapsed (and more than one can collapse), then replace them, but if they are collapsed, more than likely something else is happening in your engine.
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Old 01-10-2017, 10:43 PM   #14
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If the lifters were sticking and noisy, then a pint of ATF in the oil will usually free up hydraulic lifters, but if the lifters are worn or collapsed (and more than one can collapse), then replace them, but if they are collapsed, more than likely something else is happening in your engine.

I'm all for cleaning out the guts in the Jeep, but this freaks me out. How long should one run the ATF in the oil?
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Old 01-11-2017, 08:46 AM   #15
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Just curious - have you checked to make sure you don't have an exhaust leak? The cast exhaust manifold is notorious for cracking and mimicking the sound of lifter tick... we replaced the intake/exhaust manifold on our 4.0 when we had it out for overhaul, and it had a significant crack in it. Just thought I'd throw that out there...
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Old 01-11-2017, 12:41 PM   #16
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I'm all for cleaning out the guts in the Jeep, but this freaks me out. How long should one run the ATF in the oil?
You will want to use the ATF in the motor oil till either the lifters quiet down or it is due for an oil change. Duh!
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Old 01-11-2017, 05:45 PM   #17
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I'm I little late to this discussion but my first step would have been to try adjusting the valves per the manual. Since the lifters were replaced already, the initial adjustment may not have been done correctly. When adjusting hydraulic valves, the engine will stumble when doing the adjustment. Some people get uncomfortable with this and do not fully adjust them as required. Worth a shot.
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Old 01-11-2017, 06:29 PM   #18
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I have not specifically done it on a 4.0...but several times on V-8s but the rule for flat tappet cams is that you can always put new lifters on a used cam, but you never put used lifters on a new cam. And if you take the Cam and lifters out and plan to reuse keep the lifters paired up with the lobe that they came off of.
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Old 01-11-2017, 11:22 PM   #19
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I think it depends on the state of the lifters. I recently went through this also and I had my lifters pulled and replaced, on of the lifters was completely worn through. I didn't replace the cam with it and the ticking and misfiring came back within a week, I now have a remaned Jasper engine in it.
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Old 01-31-2017, 09:43 AM   #20
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I'm all for cleaning out the guts in the Jeep, but this freaks me out. How long should one run the ATF in the oil?
Been waiting to see what you decided to do... maybe in another thread?
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Old 02-04-2017, 02:55 PM   #21
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So here's the update, it's been like a month long odyssey of nonsense. Luckily my Jeep is not my daily driver and it's just been sitting in the garage.

This was the most frustrating job by far I have done my TJ, but it was because the engine was so dirty. I made another thread about not being able to get the lifters back in.

So first, I tried magnets. First a 3 pound, then an 8 pound then finally a 20 pound. The 20 pound was a millimeter too thick so that's when I moved on to other tools. If you want to replace your lifters in a 2.5 I suggest against using magnets. I spent hours of my life trying to work these stuck lifters up and down with magnets. So dumb.

Also, the little claw arm tool for lifters that is basically the same thing as a drain snake is a piece of crap too. Don't waste your money.

The thing that did work ( sorta) was a lifter puller tool. However this was also a serious pain in the ass too, because it required a wrench be stuck down in there at same time to tighten on a lifter. I've seen a lifter puller that spreads you push a plunger, if you can get that one, do it.

So finally, after weeks, I got all the lifters out and started celebrating, I thought the hard work was done. My lifters had a thick layer of varnish on then so I wanted to replace them all, hence this thread. Unfortunately, my celebration was premature.

This is when I made the thread where I couldn't get the lifter in. Nothing was working. Ordered a USB camera from eBay so I could get a good look.... It wouldn't work with my tablet without another special cord I had to buy from eBay. Another week waiting and $25 later, the camera was of such low quality you couldn't make anything out. Waste of time and money.

Read about other people on other engines where the lifter wouldn't fit back in, and they recommended using a brake hone to edge out the lip. Guy at Napa suggested the same thing. Bought napa brake hone, but the way out is constructed makes it useless in the Jeep engine. Where the lifter bore is and how you need to get to it is only fixed by one solution, the thing that helped me: a flex hone.

I used a 22mm flex hone meant for Chevy lifter bores, and honed out a couple of the bores that really gnarly. I put MMO and 5w30 on the hone and did it for a couple seconds. Then I used cotton rag on a stick down in the bore clean them out. Then I tested, if it still wouldn't fit I honed some more.

So when I made so they were all twisting freely in the bore, I ordered all new rocker arms and caps, installed everything, and yesterday i did the break in period for 20 mins at 2k tons when you first start the engine with new lifters.

After 20 mins, i took my foot off the gas and let it idle.... And it is wonderfully silent. No more ticking. It took forever and too many new tools, but it sounds amazing compared to what it did before I undertook this job. I'll post pics of my old lifters later....
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Old 02-04-2017, 09:15 PM   #22
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For one or more sticky lifters yes but if the cam end of lifter is badly worn away your cam lobe is also. Badly worn


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Most of the time you aren't replacing the the lifters because of cam wear. You replace them most of the time because the hydraulic lifters are sticking.

I would also vote for the FSM recomendation. Of course, I assume you inspected the the lifters to make sure there was no excessive wear, galling, or spalling on the wear surface. Right ?
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Old 02-05-2017, 08:20 AM   #23
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Read about other people on other engines where the lifter wouldn't fit back in, and they recommended using a brake hone to edge out the lip. Guy at Napa suggested the same thing. Bought napa brake hone, but the way out is constructed makes it useless in the Jeep engine. Where the lifter bore is and how you need to get to it is only fixed by one solution, the thing that helped me: a flex hone.

I used a 22mm flex hone meant for Chevy lifter bores, and honed out a couple of the bores that really gnarly. I put MMO and 5w30 on the hone and did it for a couple seconds. Then I used cotton rag on a stick down in the bore clean them out. Then I tested, if it still wouldn't fit I honed some more.
When you honed the bores, where did the junk you honed off go? This doesn't sound like a good ideal to me. All that junk falling into the engine!!!!!
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Old 02-05-2017, 02:41 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by MI Smiley View Post
Most of the time you aren't replacing the the lifters because of cam wear. You replace them most of the time because the hydraulic lifters are sticking.

I would also vote for the FSM recomendation. Of course, I assume you inspected the the lifters to make sure there was no excessive wear, galling, or spalling on the wear surface. Right ?
i did inspect them, with a digital micrometer, and there was no concave wear. some of the lifters did have taken off the edge, i assume from when they were stuck in the bore and the camshaft nailed them, so i assume there are little metal bits that made it through my engine at some point.
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Old 02-05-2017, 02:47 PM   #25
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When you honed the bores, where did the junk you honed off go? This doesn't sound like a good ideal to me. All that junk falling into the engine!!!!!
well thats why you dip the flex hone in oil/mmo mixture so it sticks to the flex hone. saw some of it on the flex hone and i removed a bunch with rag on a stick like i mentioned. its not like i was grinding away for minutes at a time with an angle grinder, it was a 600 grit tool meant for this exact purpose.

and if i didnt do this, the other option was to remove the head and have it machined, which hardly seems economical. if this blows up my engine, ill get a spare for $500 and put it in.
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Old 02-05-2017, 03:10 PM   #26
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Thanks for the replies guys. The reason I'm replacing lifters is that my engine is ticking badly and trying to figure it out. So here's the deal, it looks like before I bought this Jeep a year ago, the "mechanic" that sold it to me did the lifters, maybe the cam. I seem to remember that in the ad, but he said a lot of stuff in the ad.....

Anyway, last night I got 4 lifters out. All were gummed up, and to even get those 4 out I had to put the cover back on and heat up the engine, then use an 8lb magnet tool to push them up and down till they broke free. The other 4 are still pretty stick in there. How can I get them out?? Thinking of putting some solvent in there.

The 4 I got out were all brand new looking with no wear, but varnished on the bottom. Should I clean and reuse them or just go with the new ones?

And can I clean out my lifter bore with a brush while the engine is all assembled? Or should I just drop in new lifters and hope they don't varnish? How can I safely clean the bore hole?
For the stuck lifers Kroil and a little heat from a heat gun is your friend. Once you get them out inspect them, if they look good sometimes disassembling and cleaning them works. Or soak them in Berrymans B12, and work them with a push rod. Make sure the lifters are convex, and not collapsed, coat them with assembly lube and put it back together. Just make sure they go back to the exact location they were removed from. If a lifter is bad you'll know. If they were just loaded up with junk, you might get lucky. You can clean the bores with a bottle brush and a good strong solvent, be careful not to mar the cam, and be certain to change the oil and filter when you're done.

I'm old school, if I'm replacing lifters I replace the cam. Cleaning and disassembly is a job for a person who is not in a hurry, and doesn't mind the possibility of doing a job twice. Good luck.

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