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Hydraulic lifter pump up

GDay all,

I have a 173 in a Land Rover, not a "Holden" but getting help on old Holdens is not easy (I did own a HR in before the Land Rover).
The engine "is" in good condition and well looked after, regular oil changes and kept tuned.
I rebuilt the engine about 80,000 miles ago, had it balanced, fitted a Donaldson style air filter and oil cooler.
My question, just recently I replaced a couple of noisy lifters and since (it also appears to be getting worse) then when the engine is revved the lifters/lifter pumps up, most noticeable at idle, after a while (10 - 20 seconds) the engine settles down to a smooth idle.
During rough idle I pulled of spark plug lead to see which lifters were pumping up, determined that number 2 cylinder was the worst. Change the lifters with genuine parts, and the problem was worse.
When driving at a constant speed the engine runs fine, only stop/start driving is affected and getting to be come un-driveable.
The engine will still rev smoothly to 4500 rpm.
Any help greatly appreciated.


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noisy lifters

You mentioned that you only replaced a few, they are relitavley inexpensive from expierence - $4-5 ea for normal ones or you can go all out and buy HSV ones that are a lot better for about $8 - 9 each, I think replacing them all would have been a much better idea. Did you replace the camshaft when you did the rebuild? and the 2 most important parts -

how is the oil pressure at idle? what type of oil are you using? I have seen 3 engines die when using HPR 50 because the oil pumps could not push the oil around the engies, The first sign is that the rockers get noisy, then noisier and the engine gets a little rough, it gets worse from there - the crank and can looks like they were staved of oil and ripped apart the barings... very messy.

Hydraulic lifter pump up

Thanks for the reply. New cam and lifters during the rebuild. Oil pressure at idle, operating temp is 20-25psi, max when running (2000 rpm) at operating temp is 35psi (relief valve limits to approx. 40-45psi max).
Allways used Caltex GTX2.
Have also used Moreys upper cylinder lube, since leaded became unavailable.

noisy lifters

i had a problem like that with the monaro after replacing a couple of lifters. only happened after a few months. just needed to pull the rocker covers and give them bit of adjusting. the rocker nuts had un done by a couple of threads. i spent ages checking oil pressure and things like that when it was a simple fix.

The Shed Of 69gts

Hydraulic lifter pump up

Mick, The engine had the non adjustable lifter. Thought the same and checked the pre-load by loosening the rocker bridge bolts, all had approx 1 1/2 to 2 turns from just being able to turn the push rod to bridges mounting face seating on the head.

Ian Pumped up

Hi Ian,

you didn't just tighten the Rocker Bridges down until they were bottoming out on the posts did you? That can cause the problems you describe.

They should only be tightened to 28 ft/lbs....

E-mail Me
Qute's Shed

noisy lifters

When you replaced the cam,, was it a new billet cam or a reground one? 1 to 1 and 1/2 turns does not sound like very much ( are the rocker posts new too?)
if it was reground you will need to purchase adjustable pushrods to take out the slack left behind by the reprofiling of the cam lobes,,,
you can also buy longer pushrods too exactly for this reason,,,
a cheap and nasty way out is to grind some of the height off the rocker posts,, but I would not do this as it changes the rocker geometry and causes the vavle guides to wear faster than normal,,,
a good quick fix if your rough enough and are selling the car though ;)


Silence is Non Committal

Genuine Lifters

Pulling a sparkplug lead would have given you a mis-diagnosis. Lifter noise is unrelated to combustion or engine load.

Replacing all the lifters with genuine ones makes sense along with some thought about what made the original lifters wear out so fast - they may not have been genuine parts or parts worthy of substituting for the originals (as was my experience).

Also ...

the tension on the non-adjustable lifter bolts is critical. If they are ever over-tightened the lifters will rattle till doomsday. The best fix is brand new rocker bolts torqued to the correct tension.


non adjustable rocker arms

Gooday T,

I have never seen non adjustable rockers for the red motors, can you tell me how they are different in looks to the adjustable ones? are the posts different or is the rocker arm a completely different design? is there any difference in the heads?


As Dave (Qute) Says ...

Hi 70GCoupe,

As Dave (Qute) says.

I think the non-adjustable type gives better long term reliability because they are less likely to work loose.

One difference it that the adjustable type has threads tapped in the head to accomodate them whereas the adjustable type has studs force-fit into the head.

The non-adjustable bolts look like they are high tensile steel
so there is a tendancy for people to just tighten them until they feel tight or bottom. By then the bolts have been stretched and the rocker saddle is not being held down correctly. The rocker saddle flaps and rattles instead of holding steady.

The bolts seem to be made of some sort of alloy.



thanks T 8)

Non Adjustable Rockers

Hi Lee,

They are the normal late model 138, 173 and 202 rockers. They are tightened down to a torque rather than adjusted as the motor is running. Technically, they need less adjustment in service compared to the earlier system.

You coming to the Cruise?

E-mail Me
Qute's Shed

non adjustable

that sounds crappy and cheap....

should be there all the way this time 8) My munaro is gettin closer but still soo far away...

I'm not crappy and cheap!

I'm just cheap...:-)

Don't care what car you drive on the cruise, just so long as you're there...I missed meeting you last time... :-))

E-mail Me
Qute's Shed

Hydraulic lifter pump up

Thanks for the reply's, although the answers have drifted from the problem. The lifters are quiet in operation, but it appears that they pump up (see the original thread).

Engine Temperature vs Lifter Pump-Up

Lifter "pump up" is temperature related at idle and low speed.
At low speed the problem is less likely to be lifter pump up and more likely to be that the exhaust valve stems are expanding faster than the lifters can ramp down. I've experienced this first hand and lowering the engine temperature fixed it.

At high speed, lifter pump up will occur around redline independent of engine temperature. Because valve bounce is occuring, the lifters are filling in the wide valve clearances created because the valve springs can't keep up and are really pumping up and holding the valves open.

It's easy to stop a standard red six by flooring the throttle in neutral, then dropping the throttle back to idle. There'll be so many pumped up lifters that the engine will be unable to idle.

If the cooling system is poor, at idle, the engine temperature can rise faster than the lifter ramp down time especially in engines with single valve springs. Consequently the engine will chuff noticably when this occurs. This is because the valve stems expand faster than the valve lifters can ramp down.

New lifters will have longer ramp down times than old lifters since the new ones will have less wear.



Either replace the lifters with a set of anti pumps, or replace the valve springs to stop the valve bounce,,
was the cam standard or a performance type?,,
as it would be highly unusual for the lifters to pump up at less than valve bounce without some problem with the valve return,,


Silence is Non Committal


"My question, just recently I replaced a couple of noisy lifters and since (it also appears to be getting worse)"

This implies that even with replaced lifters the lifter noise has become worse.


hydraulic lifter pump up

Thanks for all the replys, found the problem - weak valve springs, have replaced all the springs - engine runs and idles perfectly

i own a 95 hsv clubsport and

i own a 95 hsv clubsport and for the past few months their seems to be a clicking sound when braking and taking off.I'm not sure what this could be?

202 hydaulic lifters

what is the right bleed down time of a 202 lifter using the test equipment on the bench and how many turns down is the factory setting for them once the slack is taken up please....

202 Lifter Adjustement

1. The bench test ramp down time is 2 mins.

2. 202 Lifters are non-adjustable and are not tightened by counting turns. They are set by making sure both the Valves that share the Saddle are closed. You then slowly torque them down allowing 10 seconds for the Lifter to compress before tightening further. When the Pushrod can be rotated freely, the Lifter has finished adjusting.

Further info here ...


The number of turns adjustment you're referring to is the way 149, 179, 161 and 186 Lifters are adjusted. These are adjustable.

Further info here ...



My Shed

Holdenpaedia, they're the brakes Mate.

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