How to Prime Hydraulic Lifters: Expert Techniques for Optimal Performance

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To prime hydraulic lifters, apply engine oil to each lifter and allow it to soak for at least 30 minutes before installing them. This process ensures proper lubrication and prevents damage to the lifters during initial engine start-up.

Hydraulic lifters play a crucial role in an engine’s performance by maintaining valve lash and reducing friction. However, proper priming is essential to ensure their longevity and functionality. We will discuss the steps required to prime hydraulic lifters before installation.

By following these guidelines, you can ensure that your engine starts smoothly and the lifters function optimally. Whether you are a seasoned mechanic or a DIY enthusiast working on your own engine, understanding how to correctly prime hydraulic lifters is crucial for overall engine performance. So, let’s dive into the details and learn the correct method for priming hydraulic lifters.

Understanding The Function Of Hydraulic Lifters

Understanding the Function of Hydraulic Lifters

Hydraulic lifters play a crucial role in the performance and longevity of an engine. If you’re a car enthusiast or a mechanic, understanding their function is essential to ensure optimal performance. In this section, we’ll delve into what hydraulic lifters are, how they work, and why proper priming is crucial for their performance.

What are hydraulic lifters?

Hydraulic lifters, also known as hydraulic tappets, are small components found in modern engines. They are responsible for maintaining the valve clearance, ensuring the valves open and close at the appropriate time. These lifters are cylindrical in shape and typically made of hardened steel or alloys.

How do hydraulic lifters work?

The functioning of hydraulic lifters is quite remarkable. They rely on the principle of hydraulics to maintain proper valve clearance. Inside the lifter body, there is a piston that moves up and down as the camshaft rotates. Hydraulic fluid, usually engine oil, fills the empty space between the lifter body and the piston.

As the camshaft pushes against the lifter, the oil acts as a cushioning agent, absorbing the force and preventing metal-to-metal contact. This hydraulic system allows for the smooth movement of the valve train, ensuring quieter operation and reduced wear and tear on the components.

The importance of proper priming for optimal performance

Properly priming hydraulic lifters is essential for their optimal performance. Priming involves filling each lifter with oil, ensuring there are no air bubbles trapped inside. Without proper priming, the lifters may not function as intended, leading to issues such as excessive valve noise, poor engine performance, or even engine damage.

During the installation process or when replacing lifters, it’s crucial to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for priming. By priming the lifters, you ensure they are ready to function effectively from the moment the engine starts.

Remember, proper priming not only sets the stage for optimal lifter performance but also contributes to the overall longevity and efficiency of your engine. Be sure to include this step in your engine maintenance routine for a trouble-free operation.

Signs That Your Hydraulic Lifters Need Priming

Common Symptoms of Improperly Primed Lifters

When it comes to your hydraulic lifters, ensuring they are properly primed is crucial for the optimal performance of your engine. Ignoring this important step can lead to a host of complications that can significantly impact your vehicle’s performance. Let’s take a closer look at some of the common symptoms that indicate your hydraulic lifters may need priming.

Identifying Lifter Noise or Ticking Sounds

One of the first signs that your hydraulic lifters need priming is the presence of lifter noise or ticking sounds. These noises can be quite troubling and are often characterized by a distinct tapping or clicking sound coming from the engine compartment. This noise is caused by insufficient oil flow within the lifters, leading to metal-to-metal contact and resulting in the annoying sound you hear. If you notice this noise persisting, it’s essential to take immediate action to prime your lifters and prevent further damage.

Loss of Engine Power and Performance

An improperly primed hydraulic lifter can also cause a significant loss of engine power and performance. When the lifters are not adequately primed, they may fail to fully open and close the engine valves, leading to decreased airflow and reduced combustion efficiency. This can result in sluggish acceleration, reduced power output, and an overall decrease in the performance of your vehicle. If you’ve noticed a drop in engine power and performance, it’s crucial to address the issue by priming your lifters to restore optimal functionality.

In conclusion, recognizing the signs that your hydraulic lifters need priming is key to maintaining the health of your engine and ensuring it performs at its best. By paying attention to symptoms such as lifter noise, ticking sounds, and loss of power, you can take prompt action and avoid potential damage. Remember, priming your hydraulic lifters is a simple yet vital step that can make a world of difference in your vehicle’s overall performance and longevity.

Preparing Your Workspace For Lifter Priming

Gathering the necessary tools and supplies

Before you begin priming your hydraulic lifters, it is essential to gather all the necessary tools and supplies. Having everything at hand will make the process much smoother and more efficient. Here are the tools and supplies you’ll need:

Tools Supplies
  • Socket set
  • Torque wrench
  • Ratchet
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Screwdriver set
  • Hydraulic lifter primer
  • Bucket or container
  • Clean lint-free rags
  • Rubber gloves
  • Safety glasses

Ensuring safety precautions are in place

Prioritizing safety is crucial when working with hydraulic lifters. Before you start, make sure you have implemented the necessary safety precautions to protect yourself and the surrounding area. Follow these steps to ensure safety:

  1. Wear protective gear such as safety glasses and rubber gloves to shield yourself from any potential hazards.
  2. Keep a fire extinguisher nearby in case of emergencies.
  3. Make sure the vehicle is parked on a level surface and the engine is turned off to prevent any accidental movement.
  4. Block the vehicle’s wheels with wheel chocks for added stability and safety.
  5. If working indoors, ensure proper ventilation to avoid inhaling harmful fumes.

Cleaning the surrounding area for a smooth process

Creating a clean and organized workspace is essential for a smooth lifter priming process. Follow these steps to prepare the surrounding area:

  1. Clear any clutter or debris that may hinder your movement or pose a safety hazard.
  2. Clean the work surface with a lint-free rag to remove any dirt, dust, or oil that could contaminate the lifters.
  3. Ensure the area is well-lit for better visibility, either by working during daylight hours or using adequate lighting equipment.
  4. Organize your tools and supplies in a way that allows easy access without obstructing your workspace.
  5. Establish a designated area for used rags or waste to keep the workspace neat and prevent any potential hazards.

By following these guidelines and adequately preparing your workspace before priming your hydraulic lifters, you can ensure a safe and efficient process. Now that your workspace is all set, you are ready to move on to the next step of priming the lifters.

Step-By-Step Guide To Priming Hydraulic Lifters

Welcome to our step-by-step guide on how to prime hydraulic lifters!

Draining Excess Oil

Before starting the process of priming hydraulic lifters, it is crucial to drain any excess oil from the system. Excess oil can prevent the proper priming of the lifters and compromise performance. To drain the excess oil, follow these steps:

  1. Place an oil pan underneath the engine to catch the oil.
  2. Unscrew the oil drain plug using a wrench or socket set.
  3. Allow the oil to completely drain into the pan.

Removing the Valve Covers

After draining the excess oil, the next step is to remove the valve covers. This will provide access to the lifters and pushrods. To remove the valve covers, follow these steps:

  1. Locate the valve cover bolts or screws that secure the covers in place.
  2. Using a wrench or socket set, unscrew and remove the bolts or screws.
  3. Gently lift the valve cover off the engine, taking care not to damage any surrounding components.

Accessing the Lifters and Pushrods

After removing the valve covers, it’s time to access the lifters and pushrods. This step allows for proper cleaning and lubrication. Follow these steps to access the lifters and pushrods:

  1. Identify the pushrods, which are typically located on top of the lifters.
  2. Remove any retaining clips or bolts securing the pushrods to the lifters.
  3. Gently slide the pushrods out of the lifters, setting them aside for cleaning and inspection.

Applying Lubricant to the Lifters

Now that the lifters and pushrods are accessible, it’s time to apply lubricant to the lifters. This step is crucial for ensuring smooth operation and preventing premature wear. Follow these steps to apply lubricant to the lifters:

  1. Using a clean cloth, wipe away any dirt or debris from the lifters.
  2. Apply a small amount of high-quality engine oil or assembly lube to the sides of each lifter.
  3. Gently rotate each lifter by hand to distribute the lubricant evenly.

Reassembling the Valve Covers

After lubricating the lifters, it’s time to reassemble the valve covers. This step will ensure proper sealing and protection for the lifters and other internal components. Follow these steps to reassemble the valve covers:

  1. Place the valve cover back onto the engine, aligning it with the gasket and sealing surface.
  2. Secure the valve cover in place using the bolts or screws removed earlier.
  3. Tighten the bolts or screws to the manufacturer’s specifications, ensuring a proper seal.

Congratulations! You have successfully primed your hydraulic lifters by following this step-by-step guide. Remember, proper priming is essential for optimal lifter performance and engine longevity. If you encounter any issues during the process, it’s always best to consult a professional mechanic for assistance.

Troubleshooting Tips For Effective Lifter Priming

If you’ve ever experienced issues with your hydraulic lifters, you know how frustrating it can be. However, with the right troubleshooting tips, you can ensure effective lifter priming and keep your engine running smoothly. In this section, we will discuss a few common lifter priming problems and provide solutions to help you overcome them.

Dealing with trapped air in the lifters

Trapped air in lifters can prevent them from priming properly, resulting in poor engine performance. To address this issue, follow these steps:

  1. Start by removing the valve cover to gain access to the lifters.
  2. Using a wrench or socket, loosen the rocker arm bolts or push rod guide plates, depending on your engine’s configuration.
  3. Gently rotate the engine in the correct direction until you notice the push rods rise and fall.
  4. Continue turning the engine until all the lifters have cycled at least two or three times.
  5. Tighten the rocker arm bolts or push rod guide plates to the manufacturer’s specifications.
  6. Replace the valve cover and start the engine to check if the air has been removed from the lifters.

By following these steps, you should be able to effectively remove trapped air from your lifters and correct any issues it may have caused.

Adjusting oil pressure for better priming

Another factor that can affect lifter priming is the oil pressure in your engine. If the oil pressure is too low, it might not provide enough lubrication to the lifters, resulting in noise and decreased performance. Here’s how you can adjust the oil pressure:

  1. Locate the oil pressure relief valve on your engine.
  2. Using a wrench, turn the adjustment screw clockwise to increase the oil pressure or counterclockwise to decrease it.
  3. Start the engine and check the oil pressure gauge to ensure it is within the recommended range specified by the manufacturer.

By adjusting the oil pressure within the optimal range, you can enhance the lifter priming process and promote smoother engine operation.

Handling persistent lifter noise after priming

Sometimes, even after priming the lifters and addressing air or oil pressure issues, you may still experience persistent lifter noise. In such cases, consider the following steps:

  • Check the oil level and ensure it is at the appropriate level.
  • Inspect the lifter for any signs of damage or wear. If necessary, replace the faulty lifter.
  • Consider using an oil additive specifically designed to reduce lifter noise.
  • Consult with a professional mechanic if the noise persists, as there may be more complex issues at play.

Remember, addressing lifter noise promptly can prevent further damage to your engine and ensure its longevity and performance.

By troubleshooting these common lifters priming issues, you can effectively solve problems and keep your engine running smoothly. Whether you’re dealing with trapped air, adjusting oil pressure, or handling persistent lifter noise, implementing these tips can help optimize the lifter priming process and extend the lifespan of your hydraulic lifters.

Maintaining The Primed Hydraulic Lifters

Maintaining the primed hydraulic lifters is crucial for ensuring optimal performance and longevity. Regular inspection and maintenance are essential to keep these lifters in top shape. By monitoring lifter performance and noise levels, you can detect any issues early on and take appropriate action. Additionally, there are some additional tips you can follow to prolong the lifter lifespan, ultimately boosting the overall efficiency of your hydraulic system.

Regular Inspection and Maintenance Schedule

Creating a regular inspection and maintenance schedule is essential for keeping your primed hydraulic lifters in excellent condition. By adhering to a routine, you can detect any potential problems at an early stage and prevent more significant issues from arising. Here’s a suggested maintenance schedule:

  • Inspect the lifters every month for any signs of wear, leakage, or damage.
  • Check the oil levels and cleanliness regularly, typically every 3 months or as recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Ensure that the oil used is compatible with the lifters and meets the manufacturer’s specifications.
  • Inspect the lifter plunger and bore for any signs of sticking or irregularities.
  • Replace any worn or damaged lifters promptly.

Monitoring Lifter Performance and Noise Levels

Regularly monitoring the performance and noise levels of your primed hydraulic lifters is crucial for identifying potential issues. By paying attention to the following aspects, you can assess their health:

  • Listen for any unusual noises such as tapping, clicking, or knocking sounds, which can indicate lifter problems.
  • Observe the lifter’s response time and ensure it operates smoothly without any delays.
  • Monitor the oil pressure to ensure it remains within the recommended range.
  • Check for any abnormal lifter movement, such as excessive bouncing or tilting.

Additional Tips for Prolonging Lifter Lifespan

To ensure the long-term functionality of your hydraulic lifters, consider implementing the following tips:

  • Regularly change the engine oil and filter as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Stay within the specified RPM range to prevent excessive stress on the lifters.
  • Use high-quality engine oil additives designed to enhance lifter performance and protect against wear.
  • Avoid prolonged engine idling, as it can cause oil sludging and impact lifter function.
  • Refrain from aggressive driving or sudden temperature changes that can strain the lifters.

By following these maintenance and monitoring practices, you can ensure that your primed hydraulic lifters remain in optimal condition, safeguarding the efficiency and longevity of your hydraulic system.

Expert Recommendations For Optimal Lifter Performance

If you want to ensure optimal performance from your engine’s hydraulic lifters, it’s important to follow expert recommendations. In this section, we will discuss three key recommendations that can help you achieve the best results: using the right type of oil, choosing high-quality lifters, and seeking professional assistance for complex lifter issues.

Using the Right Type of Oil for Hydraulic Lifters

Using the correct type of oil for your hydraulic lifters is crucial for ensuring their optimal performance. Hydraulic lifters rely on oil pressure to function properly, so using the wrong oil can lead to issues such as lifter noise or even lifter failure.

When selecting oil for your hydraulic lifters, it is recommended to choose one that meets the specifications provided by the lifter manufacturer or your vehicle’s manufacturer. Different lifters may have different requirements, so it’s important to refer to the appropriate documentation for your specific engine.

Additionally, consider opting for a high-quality synthetic oil with the appropriate viscosity for your engine. Synthetic oils offer enhanced protection and lubrication, which can contribute to better lifter performance and longevity.

Choosing High-Quality Lifters for Your Engine

The quality of the lifters you choose for your engine can greatly impact their performance and durability. Opting for high-quality lifters is essential to ensure optimal lifter performance.

When selecting lifters, it is advisable to research reputable brands and look for reviews or recommendations from car enthusiasts or professionals in the field. Quality lifters are often manufactured using high-grade materials and undergo rigorous testing to ensure optimal performance under various conditions.

Investing in high-quality lifters may initially cost more, but it can save you from potential issues down the line and ultimately extend the lifespan of your lifters and engine.

Seeking Professional Assistance for Complex Lifter Issues

If you encounter complex lifter issues or are unsure of how to properly prime your hydraulic lifters, it is best to seek professional assistance. While some maintenance tasks can be done by the average car enthusiast, dealing with intricate lifter problems requires the expertise and experience of a professional mechanic.

Professional mechanics have the knowledge and specialized tools to diagnose and resolve complex lifter issues accurately. They can also provide valuable guidance on lifter maintenance and best practices, ensuring that your lifters perform optimally and your engine runs smoothly.

Remember, attempting to fix complex lifter issues without the necessary expertise can lead to further damage or incorrect repairs, which can be costly and time-consuming in the long run. It’s always better to rely on professional assistance when it comes to intricate engine components like hydraulic lifters.

How to Prime Hydraulic Lifters: Expert Techniques for Optimal Performance


Frequently Asked Questions Of How To Prime Hydraulic Lifters

Do Hydraulic Lifters Need Priming?

Yes, hydraulic lifters do require priming before installation. This process ensures proper lubrication and eliminates excess air from the lifter. Priming helps maintain optimal performance and prevents potential problems with noise or damage in the lifter system.

How Do I Bleed Hydraulic Lifters?

To bleed hydraulic lifters, follow these steps: 1. Start the engine and let it idle for a few minutes. 2. Remove the valve covers to gain access to the lifters. 3. Loosen the rocker arms until you hear a tapping sound.

4. Tighten the rocker arms gradually until the tapping stops. 5. Repeat the process for each lifter to ensure proper bleeding.

Do Hydraulic Lifters Self Bleed?

Yes, hydraulic lifters do self bleed.

How Do I Get My Lifter To Pump Up?

To get your lifter to pump up, ensure proper oil levels, check for any air leaks or blockages, and inspect the lifter for any damage or wear. Adjust the lifter preload, if necessary, and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for specific adjustments.

Regular maintenance and oil changes will also help maintain lifter performance.


To successfully prime hydraulic lifters, it is crucial to follow the steps mentioned in this blog post. By understanding the purpose, process, and importance of priming, you can ensure proper functioning and long-term durability of your hydraulic lifters. Regular maintenance and adherence to manufacturer guidelines will help you avoid potential issues and enhance the overall performance of your hydraulic system.

Don’t hesitate to take the necessary time to prime your hydraulic lifters correctly; it will save you valuable time and resources in the long run.

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