Since all trucks are different, and all lifters are different, prices vary from truck to truck and between lifters. Add to this the variations in mechanic fees and labor costs, and you will find differences even when using the same parts but being installed in different shops. In this article, I will present some of the variances in cost as well as show how lifters are replaced, so you comprehend the extensive work required to replace them and why the cost is such.
Lifter Cost Variances
Depending on where you buy, component costs can vary. Just the lifter component will cost anywhere between $4-$40, the intake manifold gasket which you will replace is another $8 to $50. I am taking into account you won’t need to replace the camshaft or Camshaft Bearing, Pushrod, Pushrod Cover Gasket or the Rocker Arm.
So the first variance is between $4 per lifter to $40 since engines vary you might need to replace only 2 lifters or 16 lifters, so the math will add up accordingly. Don’t forget to add the gasket price variance too.
The above doesn’t include any small items such as nuts and bolts which might be needed, in most cases these come free.
Now let’s look at labor costs.
To start off with, this is a 3 to 7-hour job. So again a variance. It all depends on the complexity of the job to be performed and the type of engine.
Labor costs vary between $80 to $120 or higher. So again a variance, consider the delta between a 3-hour job at $80 to a 7-hour job at $120.
What I conclude on this section is that the lowest cost would be for replacing one lifter at $4 with an $8 gasket in a 3-hour job costing, so the total cost would come to $232 before tax. On the other end of the scale might be a 16 lifter replacement at 7 hours and cost you a whopping $40 per lifter with a $50 gasket for $120 an hour and this will reach $1,530 before tax. So there is a delta of $1,298 to consider.
I doubt it will exceed these limits.
Now let’s take a look at how you actually replace a lifter.
This is an abridged version of the actual process and is just a guide to show you what it takes to replace lifters.
Step 1: Removing and Disconnecting Ancillary Service Components
- Remove the intake ducting.
- Disconnect any tubes, lines and sensors
- Disconnect the cable to the throttle body including any electrical sensors
- Unbolt the throttle body from the intake.
- Disconnect lines and electrical connections from the intake.
- Drain at least a gallon of radiator coolant.
Step 2: Upper Manifold
- Unbolt the manifold.
- Disconnect all lines and sensor.
- Unbolt all accessory brackets and clamps from the manifold.
- You might need to remove a distributor.
- Rotate the crankshaft so that №1 cylinder is top dead center, which is indicated on the harmonic balancer.
- Mark, the distributor and block mount with a paint marker.
- Remove the distributor cap
- Place a reference mark on the rotor and the housing inside the distributor.
- Remove the distributor clamp.
- Pull out the distributor.
Step 3: Fuel Injection System
- Unbolt the fuel rails on either side.
- Pull out all of the injectors.
Step 4: Lower Intake
Note: manifolds tend to be tough cookies prepare a rubber mallet or screwdriver for prying and thumping.
- Remove the lower intake bolts that hold it to the engine.
- Lift the manifold out.
Step 5: Valve Covers
Note: Removing the valve covers requires removing other things such as the ignition coils in some instances. The newer the engine, the more complicated the process.
- Plug the oil drain back holes in the heads.
- Clean everything off
- Scrape remaining gasket material from the intake, valve covers and heads.
- Throw away the gaskets
- Clean everything you can except for the valvetrain.
- Make sure to dry out all cleaner fluid from the intake valley and heads.
Step 6: Remove the old lifters
Note: when arranging rocker arms and pushrods, have tags ready to mark each one, so you know their exact order. Never mix them up, or you are done for.
- Remove the rocker arm and set them aside in order.
- Set the pushrods in order to make sure the right side is up facing the rocker arm.
- Clean the pushrods with a spray of carb cleaner.
- Pull out the old lifters.
- Clean the bores.
Step 7: Install the new lifters
Note: for flat-tapped lifters, you must replace the camshaft as well! (added cost here).
- Oil all the new lifters, rockers and pushrods
- Drop in the new lifters in.
- Reinstall the pushrods.
- Reinstall the rockers
- Push down on the pushrod side to release excess oil from the lifters.
- Rotate the engine twice using a wrench, and return it to top-dead-centre on cylinder No. 1.
Step 8: Gauging
- Using a feeler gauge, slide it between the rocker arm and valve stem on the No. 1 intake valve.
- Tighten the rocker arm to the manufacturer’s torque and lock it in.
- Repeat this to the exhaust valve
- Now do this for the remainder, follow the engine’s firing order, turning the crank a little after each cylinder making sure both valves are closed on all the cylinders.
- Set the clearance with the rockers all the way up and the valves closed.
- Double-check all clearances and torque settings.
Step 9: Return everything
Remember you took a lot of stuff off? Well, now its time to replace it all. I won’t go into details, but take heed when reinstalling the distributor, since it has to be done precisely with the harmonic balancer.
Step 10: Start the engine
Well, all is in place, and now its time to turn the engine on.
Assuming the engine turns smoothly, now refill the radiator with coolant, and let the engine idle until it reaches operating temperature.
Step 11: Final checks
Once the engine has run a minute or so after reaching operating temperature, check the oil for water, this is to check of the manifold gasket is in place.