Lifter tick - ticking time bomb?

Discussion in '94-04 - V6 Specific' started by Gray, Jan 18, 2019.

  1. Gray

    Gray New Member

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    Hey guys, have a bit of a problem with my '04 3.8L engine.

    Had a gentle tick before an oil change which grew markedly worse after an engine flush. I ran some seafoam and marvel mystery oil through the engine, changed oil again, no dice. Pulled the lifters out and dismantled several. Found a tremendous amount of metal in the driver side lifters, looked like glitter.

    Replaced lifters, ticking still going strong. Starts out quiet when the engine is cold but grows steadily worse as it warms up. Added a can of BG motor oil additive (sold to me be a local mechanic... never heard of this crap, but he was insistent that it would help.) At this point, I'm just worried that its gonna lead to engine failure.

    Anyone have any ideas? Need some guidance. Going kinda nuts.
     
  2. 01yellercobra

    01yellercobra Active Member

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    The glitter came from somewhere. Chances are the tick you're hearing is rod knock and the noise is traveling. There's no band aid fix. The engine needs to come out. Even if it was a bad lifter you need to clean the metal out of the engine.
     
  3. g36 monkey

    g36 monkey Moderator Staff SN95 Supporter

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    How many miles?

    Have the head gaskets been replaced?

    Are you 100% certain it is not an exhaust leak at the manifold? (Stupid question, but sometimes the tick from this notorious leak sounds like a lifter tick)

    Was the metal able to be lifted by a magnet?
     
  4. Gray

    Gray New Member

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    Sorry guys, have been heavily distracted by life the past few days...

    Okay... Head gaskets have not been replaced. I was wondering if this could be part of an issue as well, as when I flushed my coolant recently, it was a very odd color. No oily sheen, no separation of heavy liquids, just... ugly brown, like rust. This didn't make a lot of sense to me as the fluid was only about 2 years old. Then again, I don't know the proper schedule for a fluid flush, I just replace it when it starts to change colors... Maybe not the best?

    Now, the metal bit is what has me stumped. No, I went back and pulled another lifter apart to check this. It is -not- magnetic. Furthermore, some of these filings are too large to have made their way in naturally... or at least, they appear to be. I will return with a photo later, I left them at my friend's shop.

    As for the exhaust leak... This is actually a frustrating possibility, but one that I can't seem to resolve. I listened with my stethoscope to the valve covers, the intake manifold, the cylinder heads, the exhaust manifold, and the exhaust pipe upstream of the y. I can hear the ticking at its loudest on the exhaust manifold, next loudest at the rear of the cylinder head (against the firewall) on the driver side, and at its quietest on the manifold and valve covers.

    I ran some seafoam into the vacuum port, let it soak in, and fired up the engine to see if I could track down an exhaust leak, but I do not see any. This was my first thought as far as how to test for an exhaust leak, I don't know another way short of pulled the exhaust off the vehicle and inspecting it that way.

    More food for thought... There is a gentle, hard to describe noise on startup when cold. It slowly resolves itself into that damnable tapping noise though. I discovered something when reviewing photos of the work in progress. Attached (if I can figure this out) will be two images. Take a look the valve stem on the rearmost valve... and again at the intake manifold for the same cylinder. Is this indicative of damage to the valve, valve seat, or some other issue?
     
  5. Gray

    Gray New Member

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    Blast, it didn't work. Let me try again.. 20190115_191356.jpg 20190115_203353.jpg
     

    Attached Files:

  6. Gray

    Gray New Member

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    I absolutely agree with you on the glitter... I am still confused as to origins though. I am not yet sold on rod knock, as it is near silent down on the oil pan yet MUCH louder through the manifolds. If you have any insight as to why that might be the case, please let me know. (I have not ruled out exhaust leak, but if it is, it is elusive to say the least.)

    If I could afford it, I would pull this engine and rebuild it top to bottom... I just rebuilt the transmission (and updated with a TransGO kit. it's lovely) about 2k miles ago. Problem is, this is my only working vehicle at the moment. My 5.4l (triton p.o.s.) Expedition has definite rod knock and a dying transmission, and that's a back burner problem to say the least. It's not moving for a while.

    Frankly put, I'm broke, work is slow during the colder months of the year, and I cannot afford to have another mechanic try to rip me off. I absolutely must figure out what's going on with this thing before it's too late. Any and all input is greatly appreciated. Thank you both for your input thus far; hopefully we can figure something out. I'm about to go pull that valve cover again and see if I can figure anything out.


    ***** How many miles? Sorry, missed that line: 156003.
     
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2019
  7. Gray

    Gray New Member

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    Sunnuvadiddly.... Got down there with my stethoscope again and listened at several points along the oil pan. Dead center, along the channel for the oil pan drain, the noise is the LOUDEST. I don't hear the knock the loudest there, but a loud, droning noise punctuated by the tap-tap-tap-tap-tap... I guess this closes the book on Rod Knock, eh? Please let me know if this diagnosis seems premature, or if 01yeller' was right in his assessment. (not that I question you, mind. I just want a second opinion!)
     
  8. g36 monkey

    g36 monkey Moderator Staff SN95 Supporter

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    Based on what you've said, and with 150k on a motor that probably has original head gaskets, I would begin to assume your head gaskets started taking a dump and you may have bent a rod or something of the like when a cylinder filled up with coolant. Especially with it coming out puke colored like you described.

    I say that because that's the main thing that kills the 3.8, head gasket failure.

    Would a spare set of heads help any? Hell, depending on where you're located I have a block if @snakebit doesn't want it.
     
  9. 01yellercobra

    01yellercobra Active Member

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    How did the oil look when you drained it? You can drain it and run it through a paint strainer. See if anything is left.

    Theres a couple things you can try depending on how "redneck" you want to be. You could try running a thicker oil just to quiet it down. Or you could pull the engine and check the bearings. Then only replace the ones that are bad. Buddy of mine did that with a Chevy 3.8 and it lasted a little longer. Still made some noise but it was driveable.
     
  10. Gray

    Gray New Member

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    Hey guys, sorry I dropped off the face of the earth for a while. I just wanted to drop by and provide some closure for this thread at least. I dropped the pan and pulled the bearings, they were pretty bad. I'll post pictures if I remember, later. Tons of aluminum built up in the bottom of the pan.

    Unfortunately, I couldn't afford what several local shops were asking to turn the crankshaft, so I checked it with a set of digital calipers and determined that there was extremely little, if any, abnormal wear. With this in mind, I threw a set of "standard' bearings back in it, and all was well... for a few days. Now I have a completely unrelated gremlin giving me grief.

    But, on the bright side, I was able to get out of buying a whole new engine, or some extremely costly repairs. Going to open a new thread to get some insight on the new issues...

    Thanks to everyone who contributed! Yeller, you were right the first time - cheers :)
     
  11. AStangThang

    AStangThang Member

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    Hey man, corrosion can cause the head gasket to go bad. I always change coolant almost every year cause I'm anal, but failing to change it regularly can cause the rust/corrosion issue. The fluid breaks down, the same as brake fluid does to brake lines. Never wait until it starts to look brown. A lot of of problems will arrive to rusty coolant.
     
  12. Gray

    Gray New Member

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    Damn... thank you for the heads up. Something to add to the list >_<

    Cheers