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Guest Message by DevFuse

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Rattly lifters (ATTN Moderators-to be archived )

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26 replies to this topic

#1 Guest_LifesTraveller_*

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Posted 19 April 2002 - 05:11 PM

Can anyone tell me the cure for rattling lifters on 1980s flat 4s - XT Coupe and L series estate - I have one of each and they both sound terrible. Fresh oil and replacement lifters are not the cure.
I have heard that air can leak into the oil system. Is this true ? From where ? What's the cure please?

#2 Guest_svxpert_*

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Posted 19 April 2002 - 05:33 PM

Oil pump, or a rebuild kit usually does the trick. I personally never did the rebuild, I just get a new oil pump.

#3 Guest_cameron_*

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Posted 19 April 2002 - 07:45 PM

This is what I found, lifterfix

#4 Guest_alexlockhart_*

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Posted 19 April 2002 - 10:57 PM

I have the same problem and if I can pinpoint it to the lifters (not rod noise as one mechanic thinks) I'm planning to do the job Cameron linked next time I have a few days free. Have you tried replacing the lifters and the rattling/knocking sound continued? If so, I wouldn't be so sure it's your lifters...that seems a common problem with the EA82 engines and I've heard several people say that a rebuilt/replaced oil pump fixed the problem. I'd rather replace my oil pump than do all that work on the lifters on both sides if that would do it. More info about this rattling/knocking would help at least me make my decision on how to proceed.

#5 Guest_cameron_*

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Posted 20 April 2002 - 03:06 AM

As I say with my page, it can be caused by a few things, but when you have tried them all, the lifters are the last option. I know that their are many causes, and I outline them first. Allways check your oil pressure first. Low oil pressure is a major cause of lifter tick. What use would it be to do all the work on the pump when your main bearings are shot and the oil is pissing back into the crank case? Find out your pressure first.

#6 Guest_LifesTraveller_*

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Posted 20 April 2002 - 04:27 AM

I used to run an old XT Coupe with 152,000 miles on the clock, now I have a turbo Estate L series at 100,000 miles. I tried cleaning out the XT lifters and even stretched the springs inside a little. This gave a brief cure, but very brief. I fitted 2 new lifters but these went soft in a few miles too. Eventually the oil pressure on this engine dropped very low and I stopped using the car. The estate lifters don't tick - they RATTLE. But it is cyclic ! When idling, 1 then 2 then 3 will start really loud clattering. Then they will stop quite suddenly, one at a time, until the engine is beautifully quiet. A few seconds later they will start again. Quite symphonic - not. Currently, I can't get the crankshaft pulley off so getting at the oil pump is proving tricky. The Subaru dealer says just use flushing oil and then fill with 15/40. I'm not convinced. It is the cyclic nature of the problem that makes me think it is something like air, but low oil pressure could be the answer
So how do I get the crank pulley off ? More soon

#7 Guest_Skip_*

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Posted 20 April 2002 - 05:42 AM

To remove bolt from crank pulley
The non-Patentable Kamakazi Starter bump method
1] Pull coil wire from distrib.
2] Fit breaker bar and socket on bolt so that breaker bar is supported by frame or the ground
(remember the bar is going to try and rotate clockwise)
3] turn the key to the start position breifly
4] Whack! whoop dar it is.

I personally have used this method several times.

Tis best to have the radiator, small children, dogs, cats, ect out of the immediate vacinity when performing this operation.

It sure sounds like the pump to block sealing 0-ring ("Micket mouse 0-ring -you'll se why it is called this when you see it) has gone flat and is allowing air instead of oil to be drawn and pumped into the oil gallery. Very common problem.

A steady diet of Castrol 20w/50 GTX, 1/2 can of MMMO and Purolator filters will keep the lifter noise a bay till you can do the nasty.

#8 Guest_LifesTraveller_*

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Posted 20 April 2002 - 08:26 AM

Well I got the pulley off - I won't tell you how.
But the problem is definitely low oil pressure - about 10psi at hot idle. I took the pump off and refitted it with silicon sealant in the seal groove (with the seal that is). The pressure is great when cold but drops to 10psi hot - so I guess the pump is duff huh ?
Now, the engine noise is cyclic, like I said, and when it goes, the engine is sooo smooth and quiet. So the bearings must be OK ? So will a new pump do the trick ?
As I have put a lot of time into this car as well as 2 new rear dampers, I don't want to junk it too soon -am I wasting my time ? If a new pump will give me peace and peace of mind then I am willing to invest. What do you think?

#9 Guest_Turbone_*

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Posted 20 April 2002 - 11:12 AM

Cant you just get the rebuild kit for the pump? They are fairly cheap(I think between $10 & $20) Its just a few rubber o-rings with a gasket.

#10 Guest_bbitner_*

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Posted 20 April 2002 - 02:05 PM

If you didnt replace the seal on the shaft off the oil pump you just wasted a lot of time. Did the pump look scored in any way? If it is grooved badly just get a new pump.

#11 Guest_LeoneTurbo_*

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Posted 20 April 2002 - 03:25 PM

My EA82T was quiet (@ 100k miles) with mineral 15W40 oil, when I switched to fully synthetic 5W30 lifters were very loud at every start-up, now I run synthetic 10W60 and they are always quiet, even after not using the car for two weeks.

Now I have a rebuilt EA82T engine (based on 160k miles engine) in my XT with new seals and bearings, and even with the synthetic 5W30 I use to run the engine in, it is quiet (old lifters!) except when I first started it.

So my guess is that the lifters itself will last, it's the oil pump (pump also has 160k miles) seals that make the lifters eat air.

#12 Guest_Chris in VA_*

Guest_Chris in VA_*
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Posted 20 April 2002 - 08:46 PM

My oil pump seal was leaking air into the system causing the lifters to tick loudly. The pump was grooved as well and replaced as a precaution.

#13 Guest_alexlockhart_*

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Posted 21 April 2002 - 01:59 AM

Wow, thanks for all this info, guys. I just got my '85 wagon EA82 at 160k with a blown head gasket, and I'm not sure if the lifters were rattly before I did an upper engine overhaul, but they sure are now (at least that's what I think is making the noise). Switching to HD50 oil raised oil pressure and decreased the noise somewhat, but basically just made the problem more intermittent than before. My oil pressure guage in the dash usually hangs near the bottom at idle and up above the 45 mark at highway speeds, but the pressure reading on the guage seems to only minimally relate to whether or not it knocks - it usually knocks more at idle, but I hear it sometimes at 4kRPM with well over 45psi on the oil pressure guage. Initially I was more suspicious of the lifters, but with the mileage, I'm thinking the oil pump probly has bad seals or is perhaps bad itself, making the lifters eat air or just not providing enough pressure.

Is there a way I can test oil pressure with a more reliable guage than the one on the dash? Is there a way I can find out if the oil pump is OK without removing the whole thing? I won't hesitate to replace it if that's my problem but I want to have an accurate diagnosis of the problem before I get my hands dirty.

#14 Guest_dlsm_*

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Posted 21 April 2002 - 07:59 AM

You can buy a gauge the you can put in line with the oil pump where the sending unit connects in for about $10 at the parts store. My guess would be that you need new seals on the oil pump and your oil pump is worn. Mine needed to be replaced at 99,000 miles, so at 160,000 miles yours is probably due for a replacement. A new one is abour $70 from www.expressautoparts.com, a good investment for peace of mind IMHO.

#15 Guest_alexlockhart_*

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Posted 21 April 2002 - 11:40 PM

I'm thinking that with the cost of a new oil filter and gaskets etc, and the age of the car, I'd rather get it and replace it and see if that makes the difference than taking the upper engine apart again to do the lifter job. If I still have rattly lifters I'll attack those next. Since even with HD50 oil, the pressure still drops to the bottom at idle, I probably do have problems with the gaskets and if I'm going to take the oil pump off I'd rather just replace it while I'm in there. Thanks for the info.

#16 Guest_LifesTraveller_*

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Posted 22 April 2002 - 04:33 AM

I have now located a dealer who understands the rattly lifter problem here in England. Apparently Subaru produced a pump giving higher oil pressure than normal ( though I can't imagine how you can increase the pressure without using wider gear lobes, except with tighter clearances). The parts for a rebuild, ie the gears and seals, comes under £40 (GB sterling) which, if it cures the problem, is quite reasonable for Subaru prices in the UK.
I'll keep you posted on the results later this week when I get the parts. If it works, I might do the same job on my beloved XT Coupe which has the same problem - and getting that amazing 4WD, air suspension, manual trans, turbo Coup back in action would be fun. (1985 and everything still works)
Thanks to all for your advice.

#17 Guest_LifesTraveller_*

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Posted 26 April 2002 - 02:22 PM

Well the replacement rotor set ( marked 'C' instead of the previous 'B' ) plus various seals cost just 34 poundsGB and did the trick ! It took about 15 minutes for the lifters to purge of air and pump themselves up and then : silence reigned.
Except for this slight ticking . . .
So the lifters tick, is this a big deal ? Well, after careful examination - it ain't the lifters; it's the fuel injectors ticking.

The End

#18 Guest_qman_*

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Posted 26 April 2002 - 03:14 PM

Cameron, excellent write up. It's too bad everyone is missing the boat on that advice. The largest problem other than the oil pump seals is the O-RING. I tried to explain this about a year ago. The o-ring seals the oil passage to the top end(ie, lifters and cam). When it gets hard a no longer seals it allows oil to escape into the cam case. If you follow the oil passage past the o-ring you'll find a small check valve that holds back oil just until it reaches about 15psi so that the lifters pressurize. Then the check valve releases the pressure and continues through the passages to the cams and upper bearings. When this seal is good it takes all of 10 seconds or so. But when this seal is bad it never really pressurizes the lifters. A very experienced Subaru mechanic once told me that he has only changed a couple lifters in all the years he has been working on Subaru's. Oil pumps, mickey mouse ears and case seals are the culprit 90%+ of the time.

Good luck and I hope you solve your problem.


#19 Guest_alexlockhart_*

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Posted 26 April 2002 - 10:11 PM

When you say that the problem is usually the O-rings, are you talking about the ones on the camshaft case, that are shown in the first picture on Cameron's lifter fix page of the camshaft case? Or are you talking about an O-ring that goes with the oil pump? I understand there is an oil pump gasket (which keeps the oil inside the engine) and an oil pump seal (which keeps the pump pumping oil and not air)...is it one of these that you're talking about? Or the O-ring on the camshaft case?

The ticking sound in my Sube just magically went away last week. I've been running SAE 50 oil in it for about 3 weeks, which didn't really change the ticking sound until just a week ago when it just vanished for no apparent reason. I never got a chance to listen with a stethoscope to the engine to locate the tick. Perhaps it'll come back someday...

I bought an oil pump and the gaskets that go with it and will install it in a few days when I'm off work. That should help solve my oil pressure problems (I get the same low pressure with SAE 50 as with 10W30) and perhaps do something to the ticking, we'll see. I just had the heads off for a head gasket job and didn't replace those little O-rings in the camshaft case b/c I didn't have any new ones and didn't know what they were or how important they were - I just stuck them in place with some ultra blue silicone gasket material...perhaps that has done the trick. I sure hope I don't have to take the camshaft cases off just for that silly little O-ring that I could have done before.

#20 Guest_qman_*

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Posted 27 April 2002 - 11:03 AM

Yes, I am talking about the o-ring in the cam case. The ultra blue could have sealed the oring. But I hope you didn't use a lot of it. It can plug up that small passage.


#21 Guest_maccee44_*

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Posted 27 April 2002 - 08:03 PM

could this thread be put in the archives?
I have pretty loud sounds comin out of the valve areas, but i dont have time to mess with it for a little while and would still like to have access to this info in a little bit.

#22 Guest_alexlockhart_*

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Posted 29 April 2002 - 02:14 AM

Well, I only put enough ultra blue in there to hold the little o-ring in place, and only on one side, as the other side wouldn't come out (even when prying with my fingernail). But the side that used to tick (I think) is the driver's side, the one that I put the ultra blue on...so I'm really not sure. Like I said, the tick is gone now, so I can't be sure of anything related to that, but I have a new oil pump and gaskets and seals which goes on the car tomorrow, so we'll see how much difference that makes in oil pressure and possibly lifters etc.

maccee44, you could just copy this text into a .txt file on your computer, and you'd have it in your own archives for whenever you want...just a thought.

#23 Guest_qman_*

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Posted 29 April 2002 - 09:16 AM

Luke, This problem only partly relates to you. You have a similar oil pump but that's it. Your EA81 has adjustable lifters. Not hydraulic like the EA82 and later model(also automatics after 1983) EA81's. My guess for you is that you need to have the valves adjusted or possibly adjust the weight of oil that you are using.


I will archive this though, as Cameron did an excellent job with the write up. If Cameron doesn't mind Shawn should add some or all of this info to the "Repair Manual".

#24 Guest_maccee44_*

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Posted 29 April 2002 - 04:10 PM

okay cool. I know my pump is pretty whack but i dont think my valves are a problem cuz I adjusted them like 4k miles ago and they dont need adjustment that often right?

Also, when i asked on the board before about oil weights I didnt say that my valves were making noises so do you have any recommended thickness that would be good to quiet them down? they got pretty loud when i put 10w40 in.

#25 Guest_qman_*

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Posted 29 April 2002 - 05:24 PM

For temps above freezing I have always ran 20w50.


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