1998 Ford Explorer Lifters

Tiny
OHYEA
  • MEMBER
  • 1998 FORD EXPLORER
  • 4.0L
  • V6
  • 2WD
  • AUTOMATIC
  • 205,000 MILES
When replacing lifters is it a must to replace the camshaft too? And is there a possibility to clean the lifter to bring it back to life?
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 AT 4:49 PM

42 Replies

Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Lifters and camshaft lobes develop matching wear patterns so the camshaft and lifters are always replaced as a set, and when parts are reused, the lifters must be returned to their original locations.

The exception to this is your engine uses roller lifters. The camshaft lobes are perfectly flat unlike those that use standard lifters. Those are slanted to force the lifters to rotate and develop even wear. Roller lifters can be replaced without replacing the camshaft, but a lot of professionals still frown on that.

As for cleaning a lifter, you would have to spend a lot of time taking it apart, then hope you find a piece of debris in it. If a mechanic did that to a customer, the shop would have to charge way more for labor than the cost of a replacement lifter. That would not make for a happy car owner and it would not be in their best interest. Besides costing a real lot more, there is no way to guarantee the quality of the repair.
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 AT 5:13 PM
Tiny
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Great thank you very much
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 AT 5:17 PM
Tiny
OHYEA
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Is there a way to diagnose a bad roller lifter? Or to find/pinpoint which one(s) are failing
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Tuesday, June 30th, 2015 AT 11:40 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
Some people remove the valve covers, then listen next to each one with a stethoscope. When you have rocker arms run by push rods, you can rest your finger on the center of the rocker arm and feel a clicking if the lifter isn't pumped up.

Also look for the obvious signs of lack of oiling. You don't want to see blue cam lobes or scratches in them. A few years back Ford had a lot of trouble on the 4.0L engines that used push rods with them developing real bad wear where the push rod contacted the rocker arm. Those made a clicking sound that sounded very much like a collapsed lifter. That was caused by poor oiling and a failure of the push rod to rotate while in operation.
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Wednesday, July 1st, 2015 AT 12:04 AM
Tiny
OHYEA
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Ok so in the process of taking valve covers off, got the passenger valve cover off and notice minor sludge, tried pressing the rocker arm down but no movement. Is there any other components that will cause the lifter tick so I can make a list of what to check?
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Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 AT 9:24 PM
Tiny
OHYEA
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Also do you think it is a good idea to get cylinder heads from a junkyard?
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Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 AT 10:04 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
There are variations in the valve train design depending on if it's a single cam or double camshaft, years, and things like that. When you have push rods, GM and Ford used to run oil through them to lube the rocker arms. There was a hole in the rocker arm that lines up with the hollow push rod's hole. Oil would squirt from those holes so you had to fashion a shield out of cardboard to make the oil run back into the head. If you found one with no oil squirting out, the most common cause was a plugged push rod, and next was a lifter with a plugged oil feed hole. Those usually didn't make noise until excessive wear took place between the push rod and rocker arm.

Roller lifters can oil the rocker arms the same way or the oil can get there through passages from the camshaft bearings. That's how Chrysler did it years ago. Actually, there's so many variations, you're better off looking in the service manual for your specific engine. There will be a diagram that shows the oil passages.

If you have a low-oil pressure problem, all of the lifters will make noise. When there's just one that's noisy, you often have to disassemble things to look for wear patterns. There are a few engines that use "mushroom" lifters. You have to remove the cylinder head to get those out. For the regular lifters you can slide them out, then stroke them in a container of oil to see if they'll pump up. If they do, you know they're okay. If one doesn't, that may confirm the noise you heard it making, but some just don't pump up unless they're running in the engine with pressurized oil feeding them.
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Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 AT 10:30 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
It doesn't matter where cylinder heads come from. They have to be handled with reasonable care, but you will want to have them checked at an engine machine shop before going through all the work of installing them. First they will check them for flatness, then do a visual inspection for cracks. They can also do more in-depth checking for cracks.

You can check the valves for sealing by propping the head up, then pouring in some brake parts cleaner or carburetor cleaner into the runners. You'll see a little wetness appear at the valve head, but that shouldn't be excessive. If you see one leaking more than the rest, that valve and seat need attention. It's unlikely they all would leak excessively because the previous owner would have repaired the engine before it got that bad.
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Thursday, July 2nd, 2015 AT 10:44 PM
Tiny
OHYEA
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Ok I'm at the lifters and noticed that the black little cups move freely is that normal?
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Friday, July 3rd, 2015 AT 4:31 PM
Tiny
OHYEA
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Also both cylinder #3 and #5 lifters were both compressed down while other cylinders had one up and one down
Here's driver side
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Friday, July 3rd, 2015 AT 5:03 PM
Tiny
OHYEA
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Here's passenger
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Friday, July 3rd, 2015 AT 5:04 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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This is hard to tell from pictures. What you might consider is turning the crankshaft by hand a quarter turn at a time for two revolutions to insure at some point each lifter is on the low spot on the camshaft's lobe, and feel each push rod for looseness.

If you see one or two lifters that don't have the center pushed up like the rest, turn the crankshaft until those rocker arms are relaxed, then feel those push rods again for looseness. The problem with this is a lifter could have nothing wrong with it but it still might bleed down if it's under pressure from holding its valve open.
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Friday, July 3rd, 2015 AT 8:33 PM
Tiny
OHYEA
  • MEMBER
Ok noticed that the back end of my lower intake gasket was fully flush to where coolant could get in, and found coolant over the back lifters, will the lifters come back to lifter after putting new gasket or should I keep going and take off cylinder head to get to each lifter?
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Saturday, July 4th, 2015 AT 3:13 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
  • EXPERT
It's pretty likely there's at least one coolant passage going through the intake manifold, or there's an access hole that gets blocked by the intake manifold gasket. Either way, it's common for some coolant to dribble in when the intake is removed. I just mop that up with disposable paper towels. As for what you're asking about accessing some of the lifters, removing cylinder heads entails a lot of extra work, that may not be necessary. I would make a trip to your nearest engine machine shop and ask them for their advice. They will be able to tell you all the common problems, and more importantly, how to solve them. The aftermarket industry very often comes up with solutions even the dealers don't know about.
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Sunday, July 5th, 2015 AT 11:48 PM
Tiny
OHYEA
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Ok I forgot to mention the my explorer has been going through coolant, meaning I would have to fill once a week. But I tried popping the lifter out but the cylinder head has a little lip that's preventing me which sucks. So I'm not to sure there's any other way? Thanks for sticking with me through all this btw.
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Monday, July 6th, 2015 AT 1:04 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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Rats. Too bad this didn't come up sooner. A good test for a leaking head gasket is to add a small bottle of dark purple dye to the coolant, then search a little while later with a black light. The dye will show up as a bright yellow stain that you can follow back to the source. If the head gasket is leaking, you'll find the dye inside the tail pipe. Auto parts stores have the dye, and those that rent or borrow tools will usually have the black light.
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Monday, July 6th, 2015 AT 1:41 AM
Tiny
OHYEA
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Ok, but to be honest I am thinking that it was intake gasket that was causing the problem to coolant loss, but that's another story. So do you think that fixing the faulty intake gasket to prevent coolant leakage into the lifter valley will help the lifters come back to life or shall I just take off head and replace the bad ones? If it comes to that I have the repair manual and Internet to help me haha. Plus all that is left to remove head is exhaust bolts and head bolts.
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Monday, July 6th, 2015 AT 3:02 AM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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If coolant was leaking into the oil, you should have seen a brownish-colored mud instead of oil. The first things to go would be the crankshaft and connecting rod bearings. Antifreeze dissolves the soft first layer of metal. The lifters don't really care what liquid is in them as long as it's something that can't be compressed. Obviously they want to be lubricated, but lack of lubrication would take out the lobes on the camshaft first and the bottoms of the lifters. You have roller lifters so even that is not very likely to happen.
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Monday, July 6th, 2015 AT 3:13 AM
Tiny
OHYEA
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Yes, there was a white tannish milky substance but only on the valve cover walls. So what would you do if you were me, keep going to taking off head to replace lifters or stop replace faulty intake gasket and just put everything bAck and hope that the lifters will go back to normal?
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Monday, July 6th, 2015 AT 12:41 PM
Tiny
CARADIODOC
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If this was my engine, and since these are roller lifters that aren't so critical with matching wear patterns, I would probably replace any that are suspect as long as I didn't have to remove a cylinder head. If I had to go through all the work of removing a head, I'd replace the camshaft and all the lifters.

If this was a customer's engine, I'd give them multiple options along with enough information for them to make an informed decision. If they go the cheap route, then have problems later, that kind of leaves me off the hook. If the problem comes back or is not solved at all, I'd be asking if it's a noise they can live with or if they're willing to pay again for the same repair plus whatever additional work and parts are needed.
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Tuesday, July 7th, 2015 AT 9:14 PM

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