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When to fix "lifter ticking"?

Discussion in 'Gen II Prius Care, Maintenance and Troubleshooting' started by Soylent, Sep 8, 2009.

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  1. Soylent

    Soylent It's not a station wagon! It's just big boned

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    Hi, I'm about to reach 92,000 miles on my 2006. Over the last year, a ticking sound has been getting noticeably louder. Now, when I'm in "idle" (standing still with engine charging battery), I hear a teka-teka-teka-teka sound. It's usually louder when I'm next to a wall with my windows down and it echoes, but otherwise it's not very loud in the cabin.

    I'm not a mechanic, but I've searched my problem, and researched "lifter ticks" and adjusting valves. It's obviously a huge deal to unseal a Toyota engine that was designed to stay sealed forever. And apparently adjusting the valves in the Gen II is also pretty difficult.

    I haven't noticed any performance or MPG problems, and the ticking doesn't drive me crazy, yet. So my questions are:

    -At what point, performance or noise level, should I take the plunge and have the valves adjusted?

    -Should I go to Toyota, or can Meineke do this (well)?

    Thanks!
  2. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Adjusting the valves in the Prius motor, the FJ for that matter, is NOT a task for Meinike or another independent shop. If it wasn't f***ed up before you brought it in, it will be after they get done with it

    Here is a write-up on the shim procedure to adjust Prius valves. Not anything like adjusting valves in an old Chevy V8

    http://priuschat.com/forums/gen-ii-...valve-lifters-valve-clearance-adjustment.html

    Still think Meinike can handle it? If they claim they can, I'd ask them something like "isn't it hard to adjust hydraulic lifters?"

    If they answer "oh we have a tool for that" then you KNOW they are full of s***.

    Some tick noise is normal. If it were more of a loud clatter, then I would get concerned. Oil quality and viscosity also makes a difference. If I run my FJ with the TSB recommended 5W-20, the valvetrain is ticka-ticka-ticka-ticka.

    With Castrol Syntec 0W-30 or Mobil 1 0W-40, its silent. YMMV
  3. Soylent

    Soylent It's not a station wagon! It's just big boned

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    Thanks for the reply.. but, forgive my ignorance, what do you mean when you say "FJ motor"? Does the Toyota FJ use the same motor as the Prius?
  4. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    No, the FJ uses a 4 litre V6. But the FJ valve adjustment is a similar procedure to the Prius. I never noticed any valvetrain noise running even 0W-20 in my 2004 Prius.

    With my FJ, the valvetrain became noisy if I followed the TSB procedure and used a xW-20. Running the made in Germany Castrol Syntec 0W-30 (This is considered a "thick" 30 oil) or Mobil 1 0W-40, my FJ valvetrain is silent
  5. Soylent

    Soylent It's not a station wagon! It's just big boned

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    So, changing to 0W-20 oil will fix the noise then?
  6. toyotechwv

    toyotechwv Toyota Technician

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    More then like it will not. What viscosity engine oil are you running?

    In order to adjust the valvetrain on the Prius you have to measure lifter clearance, remove the camgears, measure the lifter bucket and decide which ones to install to tighten the clearances. This, as Jayman stated is NOT a task for just anyone.
  7. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    No, will probably make it worse. As it did with my then-new FJ Cruiser



    I would guess whatever 5W-30 the dealership or oil change shop fills with

    With the 4.0 V6 in my FJ, the same motor is used in the Australia Toyota Prado, and in a base model LandCruiser sold in the EU. For those markets, they generally have a cutoff for 5W-30 at around +60 F

    In temps warmer than that, certainly for hot desert driving, they want to see a 0W-40, 10W-40, 15W-40 (A common dual purpose viscosity run in both gasoline and diesel motors), 15W-50, or 20W-50.

    With Mobil 1 European Car Formula 0W-40, my FJ motor is quiet and smooth. I have had excellent used oil analysis even at 7,500 mile oil changes. The made in Germany Castrol Syntec 0W-30 has also worked very well in my FJ

    If the OP has switched from 5W-30 to 5W-20, that alone could account for the noise



    A similar procedure for the FJ, at least according to the shop manual. No way in hell I'd attempt it, and no way in hell I'd let an Iffy Boob or similar place touch it

    I put almost 160,000 miles on my 2004 Prius. Run on Mobil 1 most of its life (0W-30 and 0W-20) the valvetrain never made any unusual ticking noises

    Even the electric throttle motor was quiet. Quite frankly, the electric throttle motor on my FJ is the noisiest part of the FJ motor
  8. Soylent

    Soylent It's not a station wagon! It's just big boned

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    I think it's 5W currently, whatever the manual suggests.
  9. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Who does your oil changes?

    We had a Prius owner a few years ago who had his oil changed at an Iffy Boob. They apparently refilled with something like 10W-40 or 20W-50. Once he refilled with the recommended viscosity, the fuel economy went back to normal and the car behaved normally
  10. Soylent

    Soylent It's not a station wagon! It's just big boned

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    Well, it's been super hot in South Florida all summer, usually 95F+. I don't know if it's 5W-20 or 30 in there right now, though. I've been going to Meineke for the last few oil changes.
  11. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    Meineke?!?!

    Oh boy .... who knows what the hell they did to your car

    For example, a lot of the dum-dums at an Iffy Boob style place will assume that since the gas motor is off, the CAR is off. Well, as you know, the car can be in Ready, with the gas motor off

    Here is one scenario that has already happened: they pull Prius into service bay, notice the gas motor is off, and put the car up on the lift. Of course, the car is still in Ready.

    In the middle of the oil change, the Prius notices the NiMH battery is getting a bit low, and commands the gas motor to start up. With the drain plug removed

    Oops

    At the very least, you have no idea what they pumped into your Prius oil pan. Since it appears this "tick-tick-tick-tick" coincided with Meinike doing the oil changes, swing by a Toyota dealership and have them do an oil change

    If the noise goes away, then Meinike put in the wrong oil. If the noise does NOT go away, who knows what Meinike did to the car??
  12. richard schumacher

    richard schumacher shortbus driver

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    To be doubly certain, buy three quart bottles of 5W-30 at Walmart or Target and give them to the dealer to use in your oil change.
  13. Soylent

    Soylent It's not a station wagon! It's just big boned

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    I'm not certain it's Meineke. I just started going to them in the last 2 oil changes, and before that I've been going to Toyota since day 1. Meineke is a lot cheaper, I can get oil/rotation for $30. At my local Toyota it was $70+, and the service advisers are clearly driven by commissions.

    Anyway, back to my original post. The ticking started a long time ago, and has been gradually getting louder of the course of a year. Even so, it's only audible if I'm parked next to a wall with my windows down. Maybe they used different oil, but it's not the cause of the problem.

    So, I'm pretty sure the valves need to be adjusted. You guys answered the Meineke vs Toyota part, and I'm convinced I'd take it to Toyota for a major service like that.
    My second question was not about where I should go, but when. Can I just drive it another 50,000 miles and not touch the valves? Will there be any more signs, like lower performance?

    I had a 1986 Toyota 4Runner with really loud lifter ticks. I mean, it was like a "mariachi" band. I drove that sucker to 200,000 miles like that (but then again, that was the indestructible 22R-E engine).
  14. jayman

    jayman Senior Member

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    The problem is, describing lifter "tick" is very subjective. There are Prius taxis out there with +200,000 miles on them, never had the valves adjusted. My FJ motor made "ticking" noises running Mobil 1 0W-20, but running Castrol Syntec 0W-30 or Mobil 1 0W-40, the valvetrain is silent

    Unless that motor is very worn, your Prius should NOT need any adjustment.

    If you want to try a science experiment, go to Wally or an auto parts place, and pick up 3 quarts of the made in Germany Castrol Syntec 0W-30. This is a "thick" xW-30 and will mask a lot of noise.

    If the noise goes away, fine. Then determine if the noise is something you can live with. I have a neighbor with a 2005 Corolla and his motor makes very obvious "ticking" too
  15. Patrick Wong

    Patrick Wong DIY Enthusiast

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    Both my 2001 and 2004 Prius sound like sewing machines, when running the engine in inspection mode. Since under normal use the gasoline engine is not running when the car is warmed up and at a standstill, most Prius owners will not notice valvetrain noise.

    The valvetrain wear seems to result in increased valve clearance which means the valves will open less than spec. So this means your engine will develop less power than it otherwise might. If this concerns you, then go ahead and have the valves adjusted by your dealer's service dept.
  16. Ron Cox

    Ron Cox New Member

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    When I got my oil change at KTT, it cost me over $80 for supposedly full synthetic oil. Had my oil changed last week at Toyota and it cost $30 less and they guarantee you get what you paid for. I prefer full synthetic for the longevity and protection.
  17. hlunde

    hlunde Member

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    You really need to have an experienced ear listen to your engine. The issue with this is that you will find these experienced individuals at dealership or an independent Toyota specialist and they just might need or want the work. Getting more than one opinion will help. You noise level could very well be acceptable -- for now.

    If the work is needed then it could cost a lot. Standard hours for this adjustment is skill level "B", 8.4 hours, which in my area would be about $1000 at a Toyota dealership.

    Could oil be a factor? Perhaps. Lube oil formulators are walking a tightrope, adding enough ZDDP to prevent wear in sliding-contact lifters while keeping levels low enough to avoid damaging catalytic converters. The bottle of 0W-20 Mobil 1 on my shelf is rated ACEA A1/B1 which is excellent in terms of wear. I would see what Meineke has been using in your engine. If they've been using an SM/GF-5 oil, then I would say that is could be an issue. See attached clip below from Lubrizol website. Toyota claims that its own oil has a proprietary formulation, so I wouldn't assume that its label tells all.

    lubrizol.JPG
  18. edthefox5

    edthefox5 Senior Member

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    4 year old thread.