The sound of a jammed valve lifter is not music to anyone’s ears, much less yours. Worse is when you hear that distinctive rattle while you’re on the road, making your way downtown. You are just flirting with danger in a situation such as this one.
Now there are plenty of recommendations that you might hear from car experts and mechanics, and most of them would probably work. However, the best thing that you can possibly do for your lifter is to utilize an oil additive.
Hearing unusual sounds while you’re driving is a telltale sign that something is amiss. Allowing the noise to continue can lead to damage to your lifters, which, when left unabated, can result in damage to your engine later on. Oil additive is a feasible solution that you can use in many ways, which I will discuss in this article.
I will also be talking about what you should keep an eye out for when scouring the market for these products. And of course, I will be giving you a list of oil additives that I find worthy of your consideration.
But before moving forward to those, here is a succinct refresher on what valve lifters are and why they can generate that tapping sound.
Table of Contents
Don’t want to read through our whole guide? You can use our table of content to jump to the part most relevant to you!
- What are Valve Lifters?
- What To Look For When Shopping for Oil Additives?
- What is the Best Additive to Quiet Lifters?
- The Bottom Line
What are Valve Lifters?
Valve lifters are cylindrical parts in an engine that push up pushrods. These little bars shoot up to put pressure and expose the valves. In order to function, this mechanism, which is known as the valve train, needs to be appropriately greased. That’s why lifters have these tiny holes on the sides, which is to let motor oil in.
The main function of the valve train is to keep the engine as noise-free as possible. However, there are different types of lifters with various levels of success in that regard.
The most common is the hydraulic valve lifter. They’re self-adjusting and generally the most convenient, which is the reason why most passenger cars have them.
Solid lifters need some manual adjustment, although they’re awesome for those blazing-fast racing engines. They also manage to be less noisy than hydraulic ones.
A roller lifter is a cross between the first two above since they can be mechanical or hydraulic. The rollers are supposed to diminish the friction between the camshaft and the lifter, which in turn, reduces the noise.
If you bring your car in to be serviced by a mechanic, they’re absolutely going to be checking your valves as well. They’d probably take note if they need to fine-tune the valve lash or alternate out a bent pushrod. Most times, there’s nothing that a capable mechanic won’t be able to find a solution to especially when it comes to your lifter.
But Why Do Lifters Become Noisy?
If you consider yourself a handy person and actually enjoy checking the car yourself, you might not be able to determine right away what is causing the noisy lifters. Usually, the most probable offenders are the oil you’re utilizing, dirt buildup in the engine, or the lifters being too old. However, since the last one just does not happen all too often, I’m going to turn my attention to finding a solution to the first two.
Fixing the first does not need much. Make sure that you’re using the ideal oil for your engine. If the oil is too thick, it won’t be able to pass through the tiny hole in the side of the lifter.
On the other hand, if it’s too thin, it won’t give your engine proper lubrication and padding. That could lead to damage in the metal parts, which will result in a dip in the overall performance of the engine. So, it’s just right to use the exact oil for your engine. More importantly, follow the manufacturer’s directions to a T.
In any case, we’re here to look for the best solution to the second problem, which is dirt buildup in the valve train. So, let’s find out how you can look and find a product that can solve that once and for all.
What To Look For When Shopping for Oil Additives?
Here are the factors that I took into consideration before choosing the products that I tested:
Familiarize Yourself with Chemicals
I am by no means asking you to recite the periodic table of elements that we all left ages ago. Rather, you should know about which kind of ingredients these oil additives have in them. This will help you make a solid decision about what you need for your car. Remember, oils and additives with varying ingredients have a huge impact on your engine.
Take, for example, products with Zinc function like performance boosters for the engine. The presence of zinc in your product aids with quicker movements of the inside parts.
Another example is Phosphorus — which is common when Zinc is at the helm. It’s great if you want to lessen the wear and tear of your engine. Engine oils and additives that safeguard the parts against wearing down are sure to have Phosphorus in them.
It Should Limit Friction
Most times, we go on long road trips and neglect to consider what’s it like inside your car’s engine. While you are having the time of your life inside your car, the engine is banging parts together to get you to where you need to go. Metal to metal collision is generating friction. It’s needed for the car but too much of it can lead to damage to your engine.
Too much friction can lead metal parts to chip away and get compromised. Your lifters are no different. That’s why the product people use needs to diminish the friction by greasing metal parts of the lifter. With just the ideal amount of the oil and a little care and attention, frictions will lessen.
Pick a product that creates a guard around the metallic parts of the lifter. Some products feature advanced technology to make sure they stick to the lifters to safeguard the parts against that dreaded knocking noise.
It Should Deliver an MPG (Mile Per Gallon) Increase
People might make use of additives or a different engine oil for their cars. That’s their choice to make. But the main thing to do is to optimize the engine for performance. We all want to maximize our engine’s performance, whether we’re cruising on the interstate or making a grocery run. Sure, the ideal product will sufficiently lubricate parts and joints. It should lessen friction as well.
But you do want that something extra, right? The ideal oil or additive should also make sure that enjoy an MPG increase regardless if it is as minuscule as 1.8% per gallon. An increase in millage will mean your engine parts, which includes the lifter, is performing a lot better than before. Just try to keep this in mind when perusing through the oil additives you see at the store.
It Should Be Able to Fight Off Rust
No matter what oil additive you end up buying, it should prevent rust accumulation on and inside lifters. Rust makes it fairly difficult for the lifter parts to move and to function properly. As a result, you can hear creaky noise when you are driving around. At times, the noise will be not as detectable but it usually gets worse over time.
The product you should choose should help you by cleaning the oil passages as it moves through them. While it’s doing that, it aids to melt rust in the oil and clean sludge also. Some of the high-end products can even adjust to high temperatures and keep chemical vapors from generating rust and sludge.
Thicker Does Not Mean Better
People usually go for the thicker options when shopping for oil additives. Not a whole lot of people actually know that the thickness of engine oil or an additive is related. Don’t go all in and immediately buy a can of thick liquid believing that it will work out great for you. Step back and check the machining of your engine.
Consider these: how narrow or broad are the oil passages? Is the lifter small with small valves and openings? Depending on the answers that you find, you might need a product with a thick or thin consistency. Narrower engines need a thin liquid and engines with wide openings need a thick liquid to flow in them.
How Much Does it Cost?
Are you surprised that you see price down on this list of things to consider? Well, that’s because you often times don’t have to worry about the price of oil additives. Usually, you only need a bottle per tank of oil, and the lot of them can be had for just $20! As with most things, there are the more expensive ones but on the list, I have compiled below, these tops out at $50.
Now that you’ve had a go at learning the basics of lifters, what makes them sound noisy and what you should carefully evaluate before buying one, here are the oil additives that I found best. Read on below!
What is the Best Additive to Quiet Lifters?
1. Bar’s Products Rislone Engine Treatment
The Rislone Engine Treatment is one of the finest oil additives on the market especially if you are keen on getting instant results. The 8.4-inch bottle holds about 16.9 ounces of product, which should be enough for about 4–6 quarts of oil. For bigger capacity tanks, you can use a bottle per 5 quarts and be set until your next oil change.
This does everything you need it to: it removes debris and quiets lifters. It should also boost overall engine performance and lessen friction. Moreover, the Rislone treatment won’t affect the thickness of your oil or void your vehicle warranty.
You can use it on any vehicle that has 3–10 cylinders, whether they run on gasoline or diesel. And, you can add it to your oil any time, though it’s always best to do it when you change the oil. Best of all, a bottle is under $10!
2. Liqui Moly Hydraulic Lifter Additive
Liqui Moly is one of the most reliable brands in the game. Their Hydraulic Lifter Additive also gets you 10 ounces of product for under $10.
Basically,like all good oil additives, it will make the problem of noisy lifters vanish in an instant. The additive will also clear out any rust and particles along the valve train and even beyond that. It won’t affect your oil viscosity, which is to be expected from one of the best products on the market.
Fortunately, you’ll be able to use this Liqui Moly product on diesel and gasoline engines, and even turbo ones. You’ll only need to make sure that you have enough for the full capacity of your tank. A 10-ounce bottle will do for up to 6 quarts, and the product even comes in double or dozen pack sizes.
It’s all around a great product, deserving of its reputation. It’ll even improve your gas mileage if you use it correctly.
3. Marvel Mystery Oil The Original Oil Enhancer And Fuel Treatment
Marvel Mystery Oil is another popular and reliable brand that you can check out on the market. At just above the $10 price point, you can buy 16 ounces of their Original Oil Enhancer & Fuel Treatment. As a matter of fact, you can also get it in a 2-pack, a 32-ounce bottle, or a 6-pack of 32-ounce bottles.
Because this oil treatment has tricresyl phosphate, a phosphorus compound, you can be sure that your engine will receive the cleaning that it absolutely deserves. You should also feel and notice a resounding performance improvement because of the decrease in friction.
Not only that, you’ll be able to use this in traditional, synthetic, and 2 and 4-cycle oil. At your next oil change, you can swap out 20% of the oil with this oil treatment. So, if you have a 5-quart capacity, you can put in 4 parts of oil and 1-part additive. For 2 and 4-cycle oils, though, you’ll want to keep it at 0.5–1 ounce per gallon.
In addition, if you’re also looking to use this as a fuel treatment, you can pour in 4 ounces per every 10 gallons of fuel. If you want to stock up on this Marvel Mystery Oil product, it’s available in 1-gallon bottles or a gallon 4-pack And, it might even save you money. After all, because your oil will pass through the engine more smoothly and without any debris, you’ll be able to go longer between changes.
4. Red Line Break-In Oil Additive With Zinc
If your attention was piqued by the previous product’s ability to clean your engine, you are in for a treat with this one. At a price point of under $20, the Red Line Engine Break-in Additive mixes the power of zinc and phosphorus. Needless to say, you won’t hear a lot of noise from your lifters for an extended period of time.
Both zinc and phosphorus will bring about considerable performance improvement. Additionally, its antiwear elements will take good care of the valve train and the engine as a whole. The engine will be quieter on startup and during drives and maintain a lower temperature. And, like the best oil additives, it should also make everything cleaner as well.
Since one 16-ounce bottle should be enough to treat 12 quarts, it’s also incredibly cost-effective. After all, you might be able to squeeze two uses out of that one bottle or service two engines. However, if you need more, you can also get the product in packs of a dozen. Moreover, according to the manufacturer, it’s compatible with all motor oils.
5. BestLine Synthetic Engine Treatment
The BestLine Synthetic Engine Treatment is an awesome pre-cleaning additive. Like the best of them, it’ll break down the rust and debris inside the engine and bring back proper oil circulation.
Your engine will also perform way better and you won’t have to change the oil as frequently as before. Aside from reducing friction, temperature, and wear, the treatment will also lessen harmful emissions from your car. It should actually bring down smog emissions by as much as 75%. So, if you’re able to do something about your carbon footprint, then the environment is all the better for it?
I’m also all for lowering noise pollution (if that isn’t obvious by now, I don’t know what to tell you) and this product will do that efficiently. If you end up buying it, a 16-ounce bottle goes for under $20. You can use it with all kinds of oil by replacing about 10–15% of the oil with this oil additive.
6. Bestline Premium Synthetic Diesel Engine Treatment
Think of this product as pretty much the same as the one above, only it’s diesel-specific. It’s also available at an identical price point and even has similar packaging. Actually, this and the next two down below kind of make up a diesel trifecta, so if your car is running on that kind of fuel, you’ll want to pay close attention.
This BestLine treatment shares all of its features with the one above. So expect to see and hear a huge improvement in engine performance. There will be a diminishment in temperature, friction, and wear, and harmful emissions. And, just like with the product above, you’ll need to replace 10–15% of your oil with this product.
7. Zmax 51−212 Engine Formula
The ZMax Engine Formula is not on this list for its cool packaging. For sure, it adds to the aesthetics but that’s not what you are here for.
The micro-lubricant particles of this oil additive function to break apart not only the floating rust particles inside your engine but also the ones layered on its inner pathways. The product will provide your engine with a comprehensive cleaning. It will also lessen the friction, safeguarding individual parts against the wear. That will be enough to prolong the time between oil changes, and even the overall durability of your engine.
A single 12-ounce bottle of this zMax product will be enough to cover 7 quarts of oil. However, if your tank capacity is greater than that, you should add 2 ounces per extra quart. This product also stays within the under $20 range.
8. Archoil Ar9100 Friction Modifier
The Archoil Friction Modifier is touted as an oil additive for all vehicles. It does all of the usual things we’ve come to expect from an oil additive and then some more. It will lessen the wear and extend the life of the engine. Aside from that, it will also eliminate the rust particles and diminish engine noise and overall temperature.
Not only does it work well on diesel and gasoline engines, but it will also excel just as well with gearboxes, hydraulics, and power steering systems. In addition, the oil additive is a complete fix for injector problems in Powerstroke Cold Start engines.
The package has 16 ounces of the product, which should be sufficient to use on 13 quarts of oil. You’ll only need about 1.2 ounces per quart, according to the manufacturer. However, if you’re looking to use it on gear and hydraulic oil, you should use about 3.2 ounces per quart.
The Bottom Line
There you have it; the best oil additives that you will find in the market today!
But you really don’t have to just take my word for it. Talk to your trusty mechanic and see what they think as well. Chances are they will tell you that any of the products on the above will do wonders for your engine, depending on the type of engine you have.
The moment you hear something beyond the usual ticking of your valve lifters, you’ll never be the same. Believe me, it’s always prudent to drive without the additional disturbance of noises under your hood. I don’t know about you but I would much rather hear the sound of my companions inside the car or some good old country music while I’m driving down the road.