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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Wut's the skinny on noisy lifters??

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23 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_kecksnext_*

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 08:08 PM

Before I transplant what can I do that might be a little more time saving? It definately makes some noise but I need to be inspected in 10 days. It's an EA81 with over 200k. What can I look forward to in the realm of deadly mishaps? As always thanks for looking and any insight is greatly appreciated.

#2 Guest_jon61484_*

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 08:14 PM


there's always replacing the oil pump, going to a thicker oil, adding an oil detergant, ect.

Don't know much beyond that. In EA82 cars it seems to be a bigger problem than EA81 cars... but some 20w50 with MOM worked on my engine for a while until I needed to change the oil.

#3 Guest_GeneralDisorder_*

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 08:32 PM

If you have lifter noise on an EA81, then it must be a hydraulic lifter engine. There aren't many of these around. Most EA81's had solid lifters. I think you can just put the solid lifters in, instead of the hydro ones. Get some solid lifters from a donor engine. If reliability is the reason your using the EA81 (good choice BTW), then you should be wanting solid lifters. Hydro lifters are nothing but problems on the EA82, and since the EA81 is an older design, I imagine they have similar issues.


#4 Guest_bbbs53_*

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 10:04 PM

Hi, on solids, it is usually a mater of adjustment. On hydraulics, the sludge tends to collect in the well at the bottom of the lifter. The cap can be pried off and the lifter cleaned and the pumped up with oil before re-installation. Re-sealing the oil pump is a snap with the engine out. There are a few other seals and things that are easy to attend to when it is out also. If it were me, I would pull the heads, and take a look at them. It is also an easy job out, tough in. Replacing the hydraulics with solids is not a bad idea either, but then you do have to remember to adjust them every once in a while, like 30,000 miles or is it 12, too lazy to go get book and check, Bradd

#5 Guest_todds_*

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 10:58 PM

i was told you have to spilt the case to pull the lifters,true or false? i got a 84 hacth with a blown head gasket and hydrilic lifters. i would swap if its easy as fishing them out. can i? todd

#6 Guest_baccaruda_*

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:24 PM

you have to take them out through the spark plug holes :D

.. maybe i should get a job designing cars :evil:

#7 Guest_edrach_*

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Posted 05 August 2003 - 11:48 PM

There's a lot of people who feel that it's not the lifters. Qman suggests that the checkvalve determining the oil pressure available to support the lifters is a probable cause. I'm inclined to agree with him.

#8 Guest_Sweet82_*

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 09:05 AM

My car has always been a little noisy. I thought it was just a Subaru thing.

The few times I have had it to a dealer, I have asked them about it, they said the noise was normal and not to worry. So I haven't!:cool:

A dealer turning down business!:eek:

82 Hatch....Transforming...:evil:
01 Forester...Does not climb!:mad:

#9 Guest_archemitis_*

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 09:37 AM

my old ea81 in my brat had solids and you couldnt hear any valve noise at all. now that i have this 87 ea81 with 111k on in. it has hydros... and its noisy as hell. my oil pressure sits at 75 all the time and when i turn the car off it slowly bleeds down to 0 over about 20 seconds, i was thinking this might be something with the check ball or something.
on the ea82s there are more places for air to get into the oil feed, than the ea81s. i got a ea81 for reliability, and its doin the same thing as my ea82:mad: :mad: . if a lifter is collapsed, coulndt you just adjust the valve lash and treat it like a solit:p

#10 Guest_Russ Hill_*

Guest_Russ Hill_*
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Posted 06 August 2003 - 09:53 AM

Do you have solid or hydraulic lifters? If it's an automatic or newer than '85 it should be hydraulic (somebody stop me if I'm wrong). If it's a manual trans or pre '85 they should be solid. Look for a sticker on the valve cover. if it says "Do not adjust valve clearance" the lifters are hydraulic. If they're solid, I'd try an adjustment.
If hydraulic, (and you'd rather not tear into the engine) you could try the old Kerosene trick. :D
2Qt. Kerosene + 3Qt. oil. Run the motor until it sounds really scarey then shut it off. Drain the oil/kerosene mix, replace the filter, then run two ot three batches of clean oil through the motor (with filter chenges).
It's time consuming but it's easier than pulling the lifters and a lot of people swear by it for cleaning out gunked up motors.

But.... My bet it that you have noisey solid lifters that need an adjustment.

#11 Guest_archemitis_*

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 11:46 AM

mine is an 87 manual 5speed hatch, with noisy hydros

#12 Guest_kecksnext_*

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 01:55 PM

It has the Hyd. lifters. That Kerosene trick sounds pretty scary. Has anyone ever tried that? Also, I don't want to sound like a complete JackA$$ but where would I find the check valve and is it something that is replaceable without a tear down? Thanks to everyone who replied. I always end up with something more than I bargained for and in this case that's a good thing. As always you guys reign supreme.

#13 Guest_archemitis_*

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 03:02 PM

i think the check valve they are talkin about is the one in the oil pump. that kerosine trick sounds more like a motor blowuptrick than a quickfix. the kerosine washes away the oil and then metal on metal.<img src=http://www.ezboard.com/intl/aenglish/images/emoticons/grin.gif ALT=" >D"> i bet it would work on the lifters, but bad for bearings. it seems like everybody either thinks its air bubbles in the oil, or sludge in the lifters.

#14 Guest_edrach_*

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 04:11 PM

No, the check valve is in the head above the cam assembly and just involves removing the valve cover, taking off a 14mm stud, removing the check valve cup and spring, cleaning the channel the cup rides in, replacing the spring (a $2.70 item), and reassembling. If anyone here in the Seattle area has graphics capability, I could show you what needs to be done; or a better digital camera than I have, we can photograph the procedure and put it in the archives.

Check the archives for Bill Putney's MMO treatment for lifter noise. Slightly less scary than the kerosene treatment but probably just as effective if cleaning the oil can do the trick.

#15 Guest_tomrhere_*

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 04:21 PM

Done the kerosene flush on many motors. Works to flush the crud out of them. You do it on a overnight cold engine, AND, you don't rev it up. Just let it idle, until it gets warmed up. Then drain and refill with fresh oil, new filter, maybe slap new filter on in about 500 miles. Lifters on my '82 were noisy after the reseal, but running for 30 minutes with 15W50 Synthetic Mobil 1, quieted them down. Have heard much good about using synthetic oils in older engines, mainly for this reason. Just my .02.........Tom

#16 Guest_archemitis_*

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 05:08 PM

wow. the one motor i ran mobil1 in never clicked on me, and it had more miles than either of my clicky ones.

#17 Guest_edrach_*

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 05:34 PM

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#18 Guest_jelleyman_*

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 07:09 PM

I haven't used kerosene before. I had used Gunk engine flush and mentioned that to a neighbor. He said he always used a quart of diesel fuel to clean the engine before changing the oil. I've used that since on quite a few engines especially when I first get a car or put in a used engine. I just add a quart of diesel to the oil and run the car for about 15 - 30 minutes and then change the oil. I've never had a problem with it.

#19 Guest_edrach_*

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Posted 06 August 2003 - 09:53 PM

Valve Clatter Fix

After you’ve tried detergent oil fixes (Marvel Mystery Oil, Rislone, Kersosene, Engine Flush, etc.) and eliminated a worn oil pump, oil pump seal, and everything else that might allow air to get into the hydraulic lifters causing them to clatter, you might try this before you tear the engine down to get to the lifters themselves. Credit for this goes to qman and I think it may be the fix for those EA82 engines where the clatter seems to come and go at will and the oil pressure seems good.

Remove the cam cover on the side that seems to be most prone to clatter (or you might need to do this on both sides). With the cam cover removed, see the 14mm stud with the horizontal tube welded to it. This stud is actually hollow and houses an oil passage check valve. The purpose of the check valve is to not allow oil into the horizontal tube (which is used to squirt oil onto the cams) until an oil pressure of 15PSI is reached. The purpose of that pressure is to fill the hydraulic lifters. IF THAT 15 PSI IS NOT ATTAINED, THE LIFTERS WILL CLATTER! The clatter will occur if the valve is stuck open due to crud in the oil, a stuck valve cup, or a weak spring allowing the check valve to open at low (i.e. less than 15 PSI) pressure. If that’s the case, the repair is to remove the cam cover, remove the 14mm stud, remove the spring, remove the cup and clean the valve seat and the components (a q-tip will do a good job cleaning the valve seat, just don’t leave any cotton residue in there). You can stretch the spring if you like to cause the check valve to open at a higher pressure, but it’s best to just replace the spring (p/n 15020AA011 and it’s only $2.70 at your dealer). Re-assemble as needed (I don’t know the torque needed to re-tighten the 14mm stud, but since it’s hollow you can easily break it off if you over-tighten it. Now is also a good time to replace the cam cover gaskets and rubber grommets sealing the cam cover.

I've got some jpg's to go with this and will try to get them posted in the Repair Manual section.

#20 Guest_todds_*

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 12:54 AM

so can you swap hydrolic lifters with solid ones with out spliting the case? todd

#21 Guest_Stupidru_*

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 08:42 AM

You don't need to remove head to get at lifters on an ea81. Remove valve cover, push on rocker arm (side that holds push rod) if you can push rocker arm then you have a collasped lifter...if lifter is pumped up you shouldn't be able to push it. To get lifter out: unscrew rocker arm bolts, then pull rocker arm out as far as you can, pull push rods back a bit, drain oil, drop oil pan, use tiny flat head screwdriver to snag lifter out of lifter hole. hardest part of this job is oil pan, because crossmember partially block oil pan, but there are holes in crossmember to access oil pan bolts, hard part is getting bolts back in, very tedious. Be careful because bolts are old & brittle, easy to snap off in block. I would try one of the recommended flush routines first, then after changing oil, drive car in 2nd gear at very high rpm's for a mile or so to see if collasped lifter(s) pump up.

#22 Guest_LostWater_*

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 12:04 PM


If it is the BRAT that I sold you then in reality it has 140k, I had to replace the instrument cluster because the speedo went bad.

The lifters are hydraulic and most subarus have noisy lifters. It never really affects the power, for the most part.

This BRAT got noisy lifters when I blew a headgasket in it and replaced the heads because of some cracking. The heads that were the replacement came off of my clacky 83 wagon that was Hydraulic lifters as well. I don't agree with the blanket statements about solid lifters before 85. I think it was 83. Laziness would lead me to keep hydraulic lifters though.

Me, if it was still mine, I would plunk the money down on some rebuilt heads, or, deal with the noise. Rebuilt heads can be had for under $175 a piece, I believe. Someone here will probably post the link to a shop that rebuilds all kind of heads. I will have to fire up the old laptop to find it.

Hope some of this helps.


#23 Guest_qman_*

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Posted 07 August 2003 - 02:38 PM

This goes in conjunction with Ed's post. There are many reasons for noisy lifters.

1. Collapsed, very doubtful. I know a few long time Subaru techs and all have said that in the 25+ years that they have been doing this they have seen a combined one or two bad lifters.

2. Bad seals in the oil pump causing low oil pressure.

3. Worn check valve/ball spring(EA82's only)

4. Solid lifters out of adjustment. Yes, hydraulics did exsist from 1983 on automatic versions and in all from 1985.

5. Another cause is the small seal/o-ring that goes between the head and camcase. It gets hard and distorted and allows oil to bleed past the seal. This is where most oil leaks that come from between the head and camcase come from. This will not allow the lifters to reach the 15psi neccessay to pump themselves up.

And finally, you can remove hydraulic lifters without splitting the case. You can not remove solid lifters without splitting the case. When the hydraulic block was designed they removed some of the casting to allow the lifters to be removed from side instead of internally.

Some engine cleaners work wonders. Some "home" remedies also work well. Vehicle history needs to be taken into account as well. Has the vehicle had it's periodic maintenance done in a timely manner? Has the vehicle been abused, driven hard, or otherwise thrashed? It takes alot to really wear out a boxer motor. That's the way it was designed.

Good luck and do what ever you feel comfortable with. But, it may take a combination of repairs or fixes to eliminate the problem completely.


#24 Guest_archemitis_*

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Posted 08 August 2003 - 01:46 PM

i just got my leaky clacky ea82 to stop clicking yesterday. must have been contaminated oil, because i ran a half bottle of b12chemtool through the crankcase on my cold engine, till it wamed up. then i mixed the rest of the bottle with a quart of generic oil and poured it through the engine after i drained the oil. alot more black came out with the extra quart of clean oil. then i put in 20/50 :eek: castrol syntec(its cheaper than mobil1, and it is an experiment.) IT WORKED FINALLY.who knows what finally worked, but they are quiet now.:D

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