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How do you free a stuck lifter?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by petritl, Sep 26, 2009.

  1. petritl
    Joined: Jul 31, 2006
    Posts: 950

    from Marion, TX

    My friend has an extremly nice 1969 Cadillac Eldorado with a 500ci engine.
    The car has been sitting for the last 20 years I have known him. Over the last couple of days we have gotten the engine to run but it has a very bad miss. I found two cylinders that have no compression after the valve cover was removed we noticed the intake rocker arms don't move on the two cylinders with no compression ( large pushrod to rocker arm clearance). If you crank the engine over and hold the push rod down you can feel the lifter go up and down on the cam lobe.

    Any advice ?
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2009
  2. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,757

    Member Emeritus

    Rislone oil additive. My buddy let a 65 Pontiac sit for a while and it would not pump up the lifters at first. It would hardly run. Put some Rislone in it a took it for a spin around the beltway. It took two exits before they all finally pumped up and it was purring like a kitten when he returned. It worked for us.
  3. 440shawn
    Joined: Sep 25, 2009
    Posts: 1,716


    Hi, as tommy mentioned the Rislone works well, you might see if a friend has a hydraulic lifter pull or you can buy one for about $25.00 pull it out and give it a good cleaning. Good Luck
  4. yekoms
    Joined: Jan 21, 2007
    Posts: 1,088


    Yep, see above posts... Some lifters have a wire clip and they can be takin apart.

  5. fab32
    Joined: May 14, 2002
    Posts: 13,985

    Member Emeritus

    One more on the Rislone. Only thing I'd add is not drive it after adding the Rislone. Instead start it and let it idle for about 20 minutes, giving it a gentle rev every few minutes. You might also put a piece of cardboard in front of the radiator to raise the temperature a bit. Watch the temp gauge and if it starts to register hot remove the cardboard. I'm betting after awhile the lifter will free up and be just fine. Also after the Rislone treatment don't wait too long before changing the oil and filter. a couple days local driving is all I'd recommend.

  6. 32SEDAN
    Joined: Jul 30, 2008
    Posts: 1,296


    Also had luck with mystery oil. Then change as recommended above.
  7. I know a guy who is a certified tech at Nissan and is generally a good mechanic. I had a Maxima that had a lifter stuck and he poured a quart of transmission fluid in the oil, let it idle in the shade for about an hour, then changed the oil. Worked like a champ. I think you can do the same with Marvel Mystery Oil.
    Bert Kollar likes this.
  8. 73RR
    Joined: Jan 29, 2007
    Posts: 6,563


    In the 'old' days, we put a 50/50 mix of oil-diesel in the crankcase and let them idle for a bit. Sometimes would run 2-3 cycles with a fresh oil filter each time. But that was in the days of high parafin and low/no detergent.
    It should do the same 'cleaning' job on a varnished lifter.
    Amazing how much crap would come out of the oil pan.

  9. 69fury
    Joined: Feb 24, 2009
    Posts: 1,419


    Just what are you trying to free up....? if you have "large pushrod to rocker clearance" and "the intake rockers dont move on the cylinders with no compression" and "you can hold the push rod down" and "feel the lifter go up and down"

    Are you sure you dont have intake valves stuck open? the clearance in a lifter that has bled down, and doesn't pump back up is NOT enough to keep the rocker from moving at all...... lifters that dont pump up still run the valve, but do it nosily.
    427 sleeper likes this.
  10. petritl
    Joined: Jul 31, 2006
    Posts: 950

    from Marion, TX

    The lifters seem to be stuck colapsed.the rockers move free on the rocker shaft
  11. Tenacious A
    Joined: Nov 14, 2006
    Posts: 284

    Tenacious A
    from Willis Tx

    Yup, What he said
    427 sleeper likes this.
  12. jaxx
    Joined: Mar 22, 2008
    Posts: 392


    Remove the valve cover - with the engine running the one that is stuck will be obvious - A T F in a squirt can - squirt it on the push rod and let it run down to the lifter - it WILL free it up if the spring inside the lifter is not broke - makes a bit of a mess but it works and is the cheapest fix that I have use - jaxx
    Truck64 likes this.
  13. 69fury
    Joined: Feb 24, 2009
    Posts: 1,419


    what you describe does not make sense. but if they seem to be collapsed, then ok. I'm just sayin. I'll bet you a coke that you have intake valves stuck partially open.

    otherwise it would be too coincidental that only those cyls have no compression.......
    and that the valve train doesn't operate.........
    and that you said you had lots of rocker to pushrod clearance........

    I've been wrong before, i'll be wrong again.....edit: SCRATCH THAT- turn over the engine- if the valve isn't moving and showing you a valve spring that is collapsing and returning, then your valves are stuck open. period.
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2009
    427 sleeper and sunbeam like this.
  14. If you can feel the lifters moving up and down while cranking the engine and you have excessive valve to rocker clearance, I would suggest that you have stuck valves in the guides. Crank the engine by hand 'til you have the clearance and try to spray some lube on the valve so it will soak down between the guide and valve. Then tap lightly on the top of the valve stem with a light hammer. You may find the valve will free up and gradually start to move in the guide. As you tap down the spring should have enough tension to close the valve. Just go lightly with the hammer.
    Just my 2c worth.
    PS. Dont tap on the spring retainer or you may flick the colletts out.
  15. rd martin
    Joined: Nov 14, 2006
    Posts: 2,449

    rd martin
    from indiana

    old mech. i grew up with convinced me on the rislone for stickey lifters, shit works
  16. Marvel Mystery oil worked for me.
  17. petritl
    Joined: Jul 31, 2006
    Posts: 950

    from Marion, TX

    Thanks! I'll take a look at valves.
  18. btmatt
    Joined: Nov 15, 2006
    Posts: 227


    Just did the same to a Dodge 318 a few months ago. Works good and is cheap.
  19. JB 472
    Joined: Aug 22, 2006
    Posts: 23

    JB 472
    from Maine

    First thing to try is ATF in the oil and run the engine hot. If that doesn't work you should pull the intake manifold. On the 500 Cadillac the manifold is dry (no coolant passages) and the distributor does not go through it, so pulling it is straight forward.

    The lifters can be taken apart and cleaned. I did mine this summer and they were all full of sludge but cleaned up nicely. Just be careful with the little wire clip, it can fly away and you will never see it again (ask me how I know) and the clip can also get caught between the body and the piston as you are removing it.

    I rinsed mine out with mineral spirits, reassembled, the pumped them up in a cup of motor oil. No rattles when I started the motor.....

    PS - You know that the '68 and '69 Eldorados had first genration 472's???
  20. cheapskate
    Joined: Jan 6, 2009
    Posts: 58


    Good advice already given on both lifters and stuck valves. A slight variationn would be to squirt carb cleaner down the pushrod (use the little red tube to hit the pushrod.) lightly tap the rocker arm at the pushrod end.Let the cleaner soak in the lifter for as long as your patience allows. Repeat this proceedure several times. Spray the valve stems as well. If you get some improvement, run the engine and tap lightly on the rocker arms at the pushrods and let it run. I have saved some teardowns doing this. Good luck.
  21. bigflatheadman
    Joined: Sep 27, 2009
    Posts: 4

    from Indiana

    Have to agree with the stuck valve theory. The above mentioned methods work well. I use 50/50 mix of trani fluid and Acetone ! That will unstick things like nothing else !! Good Luck !!
  22. Fuel to burn
    Joined: Jul 17, 2009
    Posts: 279

    Fuel to burn

    My experience was that I had a stuck valve which in turn caused the lifter to collapse.

    My way to check for sticking valve is to hold a good size bolt to the top of the valve stem and tap the bolt firmly with a hammer (straight down, don't bend the valve stem!) You can feel the spring give if the valve is not stuck. Otherwise it will feel like solid metal.

    To free the stuck valve, I removed the spring and rubber valve seal to get solvent and heat directly on the stem where it enters the head. Be sure the piston for that cylinder is AT TOP DEAD CENTER! or when you free the valve it will fall into the cylinder and you will be hosed!
  23. petritl
    Joined: Jul 31, 2006
    Posts: 950

    from Marion, TX

    The car made it back to the road this last weekend.
    Thanks for the advise; two valves were stuck open. The heads were removed and rebuilt.

    I have a left over part I don't know where it came from. Any guesses?
    My friend thinks it belongs on this wire but I don't agree. I don't see any port for this to go into. There are no fluid leaks
    1969 Cadillac 500ci

  24. holeshot
    Joined: Sep 18, 2009
    Posts: 1,519

    from Waxahachie

    PETITL...after 25 yrs. don't be so sure it's a lifter. it's more likely to be stuck valves. man i would pull the heads, and pull all the valves. you can't be to safe. well anyway that's my story, and i'am sticking to it...POP.
  25. hotrodtom
    Joined: Apr 14, 2005
    Posts: 231


    Looks kinda like an oil pressure sending unit to me...:eek:
    Black_Sheep likes this.
  26. wrenchn
    Joined: Mar 29, 2009
    Posts: 33

    from Chicago

    That is a extra temp sensor. It has been screwed into different places depending on year. Sometimes the top of a headbolt will be threaded and it screws in there or sometime the head has a threaded hole on a small pad between the power steering pump and the first headbolt in the corner outside of the valve cover.
  27. john walker
    Joined: Sep 11, 2008
    Posts: 1,114

    john walker

    if it's lifters, try some motor purr tune up.
    nasty smelling stuff, but it usually works. just get it hot and let it idle until the ticking stops.
  28. Perry Hvegholm
    Joined: Apr 16, 2018
    Posts: 113

    Perry Hvegholm

    So I bounced off this old thread when I found myself with a stuck lifter and I was hunting for cures. I thought i'd share my fix. The Chrysler 383 between the fenders of the car pictured in my avatar developed a serious lifter clack after startup earlier this year. The car sits for weeks sometimes, but it has never exhibited lifter noise. I removed the valve covers and quickly found the offending lifter at the #1 exhaust valve (as evidenced by roughly .300" of slop in the rocker at this valve.)

    I drizzled ATF down the pushrod, into the lifter. Maybe half a cup, total, but I only poured a little at a time. I worked the lifter manually for a bit, by pushing the pushrod into the lifter with my fingers, adding more ATF, repeating the process. I put the valve covers back on, poured in a pint of Marvel Mystery Oil and ran the motor with no load, for about 20 minutes. The offending lifter was ticking, but noticeably quieter for the first few minutes after startup. I left the car to run and get hot while I finished some yard work. When I came back, the lifter noise was gone completely.

    I changed the oil and filter and it's still purring. I don't know if it was the ATF or the Mystery Oil, or a combination of both, but the treatment worked admirably. I've used ATF to flush carbon-choked motors in the past and have always marveled at how much crap transmission fluid clears from a dirty engine. Anyway, just thought i'd share.
  29. 1ton
    Joined: Dec 3, 2010
    Posts: 537


    I'm a bit surprised that nobody mentioned Seafoam. I had a stuck valve or lifter in a sbc that sat for awhile. Put the seafoam in the crankcase, ran it for a bit, shut it off and let it sit for a day. I was amazed that on the next start up, a little ticking that almost immediately went away. After changing the oil I put some in the gas tank and never had a problem after that. I'm the worlds biggest skeptic when it comes to miracle cures like this but now I'm a believer. Seafoam is RGS. ie: really good shit.
  30. sunbeam
    Joined: Oct 22, 2010
    Posts: 5,222


    Lifter piston travel is way less than cam lift you would see some rocker movement. I agree with a stuck valve.

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