Engine Lifter Replacement (W/ heads off) questions


New Member
Jun 22, 2019
Been in the middle of replacing my 4.6Ls head gasket on a 97 GT. Before I started the work, the engine did have a ticking noise that was getting worse as time went on. I ran it for about a month and a half with that tick, and by the time I was starting the head job, the ticking was real loud with the hood open.

I've seen some videos of lifter replacement but they all used special tools for spring compression and all that. My questions are how much easier does a lifter job become with the heads off, and what are the specifics of removing and installing the cam bolts? I also have little knowledge of how lifters work, if there is a way to tell if they're the problem, I would love to hear it.

One last note; I have no idea how the lifters actually come out. Are they threaded or compressed or what?


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Active Member
Jul 12, 2018

You can remove lifters on your 4.6L SOHC Engine, if you take your time & do it right, there’s no need to pull the Cam. This have PI heads?
You should acquire a shop manual by Chilton or Haynes on your SN95 Mustang. You’re going to need all the torque spec’s during reassembly & the information along with visual aids will be helpful.
Lifters just sit in their bores, in most all cases they’re mechanically captured by another Valvetrain component under spring pressure.
Sometimes they get sticky (oil contaminants) and require some force, generally slide right out when not captured.
Rather than typing it up, this is relatively similar to the method I’ve used:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHRrpQXGlNs

Lifters 101:
Lifters (Hydraulic) have small orfices on their undercut sides, where the oil flow under pump pressure reaches them from passages in the block, pressure rises, they pump up (become solid), simple check valves retain internal pressure for a short time period.
They also maintain oil flow out the top, through the pushrod to lubricate other Valvetrain components. They are highly vulnerable to contaminants in Engine oil, as this may prevent them from regulating pressure by clogging the simple internal check valve function, losing internal pressure required to push a heavy valve spring, causing excess clearances in the Valvetrain, hence; the “click”. Low oil pressure or flow by restrictive oil passages, (sludge buildup, which is mostly burnt oil reverting back to unrefined crude, packed with normal bearing/piston wear over time) incorrect oil type or viscosity, lack of oil changes all may also cause similar issues.
Lifters are generally called “lash adjusters” in OHC app’s. Ford’s 4.6/5.4L SOHC & DOHC motor’s of this genre’ are a rare exception.
I’m unclear on why you pulled the head.
Had a blown head gasket, yet you ran it...what precisely occurred there?
Did you have any cross contamination (Coolant in your Oil & vise versa)?
Cams rotate 360 Deg. for every 720 Crank degrees in a 4 stroke engine.
Was the ticking speed commensurate to engine rpm’s?...(engine rpm increases, tick frequency increases).
. This frequency can yield clues in regards to engine noise produced be the Valvetrain or the reciprocating assembly (Crank/Rods/Pistons). The location & tone of the noise may also clue you in as to what’s causing it. “Clicks” are often Valvetrain, deep “knocks” are often sometimes main or Rod bearings, etc..
An automotive Stethoscope is a useful tool in detecting noise locations externally on a running motor, a long screwdriver held to the ear & on a valve-cover, etc is also useful.
A phone running a sound detection amplifier app will also help locate a noise at it’s loudest in a pinch.
Other questions, ask away..