The national average cost for valve lifter replacement is $583

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National average cost of a Valve Lifter Replacement
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What is a valve lifter and how does it work?

A valve lifter is a component located deep inside your engine that serves to transfer the motion of the camshaft through the valve system (the “valvetrain”) to an intake valve or exhaust valve. Each valve has a corresponding lifter, and there are anywhere from eight to thirty two valves in an engine. The lifter also serves to take up slack in the valve train. Depending on the configuration of your specific engine, the valve lifters might roll directly on the camshaft lobes, or they may be mounted in the cylinder head and simply provide a fulcrum on which the rocker arms that actuate the valves can pivot. Modern hydraulic valve lifters are pressurized with engine oil when the engine is running, creating a hydraulic “cushion” for the other parts of the valvetrain. This serves to adjust for changes in engine temperature. Tolerances in the valvetrain must be maintained correctly to eliminate excessive wear and noise, and to ensure correct valve geometry.

How do I know if a valve lifter needs to be replaced?

A valve lifter is an essential part of valve timing in your engine. The camshaft(s) rotates in relationship with the engine’s camshaft and acts as the conductor for the symphony of activity in the valves. Asymmetrical lobes placed at specific locations on the camshaft allow the intake valves and exhaust valves to open and close in concert with the movement of the pistons during the combustion process. If any of the components in the valvetrain - the valves, pushrods, rocker arms, or the lifters - are unable to perform their parts, engine performance will suffer. Signs that the lifters are going bad include

A telltale ticking or tapping sound (the reason that lifters are also known as “tappets”)

Loss of engine power and or fuel efficiency

The Check Engine Light comes on and reveals a diagnostic trouble code related to engine performance


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How is this service performed

How is a Valve Lifter Replacement done?

Valve lifters that malfunction due to a plugged oil feed can be removed, cleaned, and reinstalled. Lifters, on the other hand, that show signs of excessive wear or mechanical failure must be replaced. In either case, it is necessary to disassemble components on an engine for access, inspection, and repair. The service is complex and requires special tools and training to accomplish. To replace valve lifters, a mechanic will typically perform the following procedures

  • Remove valve cover(s) on the engine
  • Remove the timing cover and timing chain (on some models)
  • Remove the camshaft(s) (on some models)
  • Disassemble the rocker arms, springs, and other valvetrain components
  • Remove the valve lifters and replace with new components
  • Reinstall valvetrain components and timing chain(s)
  • Adjust valve clearances
  • Replace timing cover, valve cover, and other components necessary for access


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