How long can you drive with bad lifters

How long can you drive with bad lifters

Are you noticing a funny ticking noise coming from your engine when you accelerate? You may have bad lifters, and you may be wondering how long you can continue driving. In this article, we will discuss what bad lifters mean for your car and how long you should drive it before getting it looked at by a professional. Let’s dive in!

1. What are Lifters and Why Do They Matter?
Lifters, also known as hydraulic valve lifters, are components of an internal combustion engine that have the task of regulating the clearance between valves and rocker arms. The lifter’s purpose is to open and close valves in an engine’s cylinder head to allow air and fuel in, as well as releasing exhaust so that combustion can occur. Without the lifter to control the valve action, the valves could not function to keep air and fuel entering and exhaust leaving the combustion chamber.

The lifter’s performance is vitally important; if the valves don’t open and close routinely and consistently, the engine’s performance and power output is diminished – or even worse, catastrophic engine failure can occur.

2. What Can Happen When the Lifters Are Bad?

When a lifter fails, you’ll likely notice the following symptoms:

  • Reduced engine performance – your engine won’t feel as powerful.
  • Rough or idle engine – your engine might shake, shudder and make increased noise.
  • Oil pressure warning light triggered – an indication that a lifter isn’t working properly.
  • Removal of oil dipstick – an indication of the engine being overfilled with oil, due to the lifter’s inability to function properly.

If these symptoms aren’t dealt with quickly, further damage (up to and including engine failure) could occur.

3. How Can You Tell If Your Lifters Are Bad?

If your lifter is failing, then it’s highly likely you’ll hear an increase of loud ticking or clicking noise coming from your engine. This will usually begin as an intermittent noise but become more consistent over time as the lifter issue worsens.

Other signs can include a lack of power when engine is running, a tapping sound when fuel accelerates and reduced engine responsiveness.

4. How Long Can You Drive with Bad Lifters?

The short answer is “not long”. Increasing the amount of time that you’re driving with bad lifters will just lead to further damage and might even result in catastrophic engine failure.

It’s recommended that you visit a mechanic immediately and get them to diagnose and repair the problem.

5. What Are The Next Steps You Should Take?

If you suspect that your car’s lifters are bad, then the next steps to take should be:

  • Visit a mechanic to be sure – there are signs to look for and a mechanic should be able to diagnose and repair the issue.
  • Check your car’s manual – it will provide the best and most current information for maintenance and repair.
  • If necessary, replace the faulty lifters with new ones – if you suspect that replacement of the lifters is required, be sure to order high-quality components to avoid the same issue from occuring again.


Q: What are lifters and why do they need to be replaced?
A: Lifter is a slang term for the engine valve lifters, which are part of a car’s engine valvetrain. They are responsible for positioning the engine valves in an open or closed position and ensure that enough oil pressure is delivered to the valvetrain. Over time, the lifters can wear out and need to be replaced.

Q: How will I know when my lifters need to be replaced?
A: If you notice a loud ticking or knocking sound when the engine is running, this is often a sign that your lifters have worn out and need to be replaced. You may also experience engine misfires, a decrease in engine performance, or an increase in oil consumption.

Q: How long can I safely drive with bad lifters?
A: Driving with bad lifters should be avoided whenever possible, as it can have a negative effect on your engine’s performance and longevity. In general, it is best to have your lifters replaced as soon as you notice any symptoms of wear.

Final notes

If you’ve been asking yourself how long you can drive with bad lifters, now you know the answer. Fixing a bad lifter may be costly, but ignoring it can cause some serious damage to your engine. Taking care of your car and responding to signs of trouble can help save you potential long-term damage to your engine, and money in the long run.
Car engines rely heavily on their lifters to keep their performance at its optimal level. However, when lifters become defective, the engine may become louder, harder to start, and even slower. Therefore, this naturally raises the question: how long can you drive with bad lifters?

When it comes to emissions, how long you can drive with bad lifters depends on the severity of the failure. If the defect is minor, it may be possible to continue driving for an extended period, with perhaps a slight decrease in power and fuel economy. However, if the defect is more serious, a possible cylinder misfire could lead to a higher level of pollution and decreased engine performance, making it more important to fix the issue sooner rather than later.

In addition, there could be other signs that indicate you should repair the lifters immediately. If the engine produces a tapping, clicking, or knocking sound, that could be a sign of worn-out lifters, and it could be causing costly damage to the engine. Therefore, it’s always wise to get the vehicle checked out if you detect any unusual sounds.

When it comes to reliability, driving with bad lifters is discouraged, as you may find the car difficult to maneuver or unreliable to operate. Moreover, when you are driving with bad lifters, your car may have problems starting, frequent stalling, or increased smoke coming out of the exhaust, all of which are signs that you should repair the lifters as soon as possible.

To conclude, while it is possible to drive with bad lifters, it is not recommended because of the potential damage to the engine and the higher emissions and poorer performance that may result. Therefore, if your car is behaving erratically, it’s best to seek professional assistance as soon as possible.