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Thread: The infamous 4.0L Valve/lifter tap

  1. #1

    Icon922 The infamous 4.0L Valve/lifter tap

    My 03 WJ 4.0L has had a tap in the valvetrain or lifters on cold mornings. It stops when it warms up. I know you guys have heard this before. I was alright dealing with that but just did an oil change and now the tapping is there non stop. I had put in Rislone with oil in hope to quite the noise down but I think maybe because it is so thick it made it worse. Has anyone found a solution to this problem? Going to drain it again and see if a lighter oil like 5/30 will help, but I know of plenty of WJ's where thinner oil does not help. Anyone have any suggestions? If you know the problem I speak of then you know that no additive will cure this, looking for the real fix. Only additive that I ever thought came close was Seafoam. I have heard a variety of theories, want to hear yours though.

    PS- It is not a manifold leak or injectors, so don't ask

  2. #2
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    Sounds like a lifter that hasn't been 'pumped up' yet. Once it is full of warm oil the noise goes away.

    If it is really bothering you, figure out which cylinder it is, pull the rocker and check the valve spring, use a rocker removal tool so you can pull the lifter out to inspect (tool grabs the lifter from inside the lip) and replace.

    if you do this, either only pull one lifter at a time or track which lifter rides on which lobe, you want to keep worn lifters\cam lobes matched.


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    4 Litres of Fury trail rated's Avatar
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    Are you sure it is not a cracked piston skirt?
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  4. #4

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    No, I am not sure it's a cracked piston skirt. I have heard people say that that is the cause, i cringe at that thought though. Only has 92,000 on it. How common is the piston skirt? I am hearing it so clearly in the top end I think. I guess pulling the valve cover is the easiest thing to do first though. I already have a laundry list on this baby and I really don't want to add engine rebuild on it.

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    Registered xJoshxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPDMETL View Post
    Sounds like a lifter that hasn't been 'pumped up' yet. Once it is full of warm oil the noise goes away.

    If it is really bothering you, figure out which cylinder it is, pull the rocker and check the valve spring, use a rocker removal tool so you can pull the lifter out to inspect (tool grabs the lifter from inside the lip) and replace.

    if you do this, either only pull one lifter at a time or track which lifter rides on which lobe, you want to keep worn lifters\cam lobes matched.
    i don't believe you can pull the Lifters out on the 4.0 without removing the Head.

    atleast alldata says this. easy way to tell if a piston skirt is bad pull the oil pan check for chunks

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    Registered jamtoy's Avatar
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    I have 150k on mine and it has tapped for 60k. If you're not losing water or oil IMO you should be fine if you can live with the noise.

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    Icon922

    I did this by accident after not correctly reading the directions on the seafoam bottle. I poured the entire bottle of seafoam into my oil and ran it for about 75 miles then changed the oil. Boy it was black as death, but after the oil was changed, the valve lifter tick went away and it feels stronger than ever. my .02
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    '96 4.0L, 100k with my lifter tap,. . .started about 60k, now at 157k. Little noisy but i just turn the radio up. . .

    Can the lifter's be replaced without removing the head? Do they come out easy? Last time i did this, on an older v8 which had access to the lifter, they where a PIA to get out even with the tool. A ridge built up over time in the bore, took a lot of wiggling to clear it and get it out, with 8 of them. .. .took forever.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jrford View Post
    '96 4.0L, 100k with my lifter tap,. . .started about 60k, now at 157k. Little noisy but i just turn the radio up. . .

    Can the lifter's be replaced without removing the head?
    I am not sure if this is possible on the 4.0, I was speaking from experience with other engines (primarily V8s) and I threw it out there as a possibility.

    My apologies.


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    Quote Originally Posted by PBWJ03 View Post
    No, I am not sure it's a cracked piston skirt. I have heard people say that that is the cause, i cringe at that thought though. Only has 92,000 on it. How common is the piston skirt? I am hearing it so clearly in the top end I think. I guess pulling the valve cover is the easiest thing to do first though. I already have a laundry list on this baby and I really don't want to add engine rebuild on it.
    A cracked piston skirt wouldn't come and go. It'd be there all the time, but just slightly less noticeable at warm operating temps. Also, a lifter is more of a "tick" rather than a "clank" like a piston skirt would be, not to mention since the camshaft turns at half engine speed, if your ear is tuned to know how certain things sound, you'll be able to hear that if it's a lifter, the noise is going to be slower proportionate to engine speed than if it were a piston skirt.

    2005 WK Rocky Mountain Edition -- Inferno Red, 4.7L / QT II

  11. #11
    the logical one fixer5000's Avatar
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    when my #6 piston skirt broke its was quite noticeable cold or hot!! no doubt
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    Icon922

    i had the same problem and wasn't willing to live with it, let it go for the 300,000 the 4.0 would probably go anyway and didn't want to pull the head to replace all lifters and risk getting a bad one out of the box.

    soooooo...i did the seafoam trick as follows. changed the oil and filter and added seafoam according to the formula on the can. ran it 3,000, changed the oil and put in more seafoam. repeat. 3 seafoam additions total and the lifter shut up. no more seafoam and no more tick.

    in days of old we used to do the same thing with stoddard solvent (one distillation tower cut below kerosene) at about 1 ounce per quart. did the same thing (increased solvency) and it was way cheaper. (i was a destitute college student and a buck meant a lot then.) as long as the engine wasn't too crudded up. if so, you just loosen up every damaging deposit in the engine and put it in every place you don't want it. a quick swipe of the finger through the oil fill or other port in the rocker cover will tell. if you come out with a finger full of sludge (not just a smear, but a nice lump of crud), don't do any solvent trick. it probably won't turn out well.
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    1.qt of transmission fluid (dexron) added to the crankcase before you change your oil should do the trick and it is easy to locate and most likely alot cheaper. Trans fluid is basically 100% detergent and is designed to keep the inside of your trans squeeky clean too.

    don't forget to change the oil after awhile of driving with the trans fluid in there. It may be a good idea to change the oil filter before adding the trans fluid, this will bring the oil level down some and less risk of dislodging any debris in the old oil filter.

  14. #14

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    Best product I've ever found for cleaning up gummy lifters, de-sludging filthy engines, and even cleaning out fuel injectors is a product called Neutra by Schaeffer Oil Co.
    http://www.schaefferoil.com/neutra_fuel_stabilizer.html
    It's sold as a fuel treatment, and works fantastic as such, but another purpose it can be used for is a pre-drain engine oil flush. Add 1 ounce per quart of oil 1000 miles before a change, and it'll clean everything out real nice.
    I've used this on the nasty Chrysler 2.7 "sludge monster" V6, and double-dosing it at 2 ounces per quart cleaned up the internals very nicely.
    It's an ester based product, so there's no harsh solvents or anything that will swell or soften seals, or possibly do other damage.

    2005 WK Rocky Mountain Edition -- Inferno Red, 4.7L / QT II

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    Registered Chris142's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PBWJ03 View Post
    My 03 WJ 4.0L has had a tap in the valvetrain or lifters on cold mornings. It stops when it warms up. I know you guys have heard this before. I was alright dealing with that but just did an oil change and now the tapping is there non stop. I had put in Rislone with oil in hope to quite the noise down but I think maybe because it is so thick it made it worse. Has anyone found a solution to this problem? Going to drain it again and see if a lighter oil like 5/30 will help, but I know of plenty of WJ's where thinner oil does not help.
    Rislone is pretty thin. Not thick unless they have changed it.

    My 4.0L is very picky about oil. Chevron, Vavoline or Havoline will make it tick alot. Penns, QS, Shell, Peak(and other WPP oils) are very quiet in it. I can't explain it either.



  16. #16

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    Ok, I got it to go away for the most part. Had to take a short road trip so before a I left I put an entire bottle of Seafoam in it. When I got home I changed the oil, it was black as hell. Filled it back up, changed filter and it was quiet as a mouse. Still taps a tiny bit in morning when it's really cold, but goes away quickly. I am very satisfied with the results. We will just see how long it stays quiet for. Thanks for everyone's input!

  17. #17
    Registered xJoshxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PBWJ03 View Post
    Ok, I got it to go away for the most part. Had to take a short road trip so before a I left I put an entire bottle of Seafoam in it. When I got home I changed the oil, it was black as hell. Filled it back up, changed filter and it was quiet as a mouse. Still taps a tiny bit in morning when it's really cold, but goes away quickly. I am very satisfied with the results. We will just see how long it stays quiet for. Thanks for everyone's input!
    bottle says a 1/3 in the oil lol can is what 16oz so about 5 1/2 ounces for the gas tank throttle body and oil. a full 16oz can may have thinned out your oil Pretty good. remember there all solvents but what ever works

    i was afraid to leave my Amsoil flush in my jeep longer than 25minutes at 1500rpms. i have no idea what that amounts in miles.

    im running amsoil 10w40 heavy duty oil my wj has extra zinc for flat tappets it has made the most difference than the 0w30 Signature series just to light for the 4.0L

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