Hearing the distinctive sound of a jammed valve lifter while you’re driving can quickly become dangerous. I went into detail about what causes the ticking or knocking noise in your engine and how you can fix it in a previous article. In it, I concluded that the best thing you can do for your lifters is to use an oil additive. Today, I bring you 8 product recommendations of the best oil additives for noisy lifters!
As I have mentioned in my previous article, hearing odd noises while you’re driving is never ideal. After all, it can cover up more important sounds and cause you to lose focus. In addition, allowing the noise to persist can also seriously damage your lifters and even cause your whole engine to misbehave. Oil additives can help in a multitude of ways, and I’ll tell you all about them here.
Aside from giving you some product recommendations, I’ll also explain what are some features you should keep in mind when shopping for oil additives in general. But first, here’s a brief refresher on what valve lifters are and why they can produce a tapping noise.
What Are Valve Lifters Anyway?
As I explained in my other article, valve lifters are cylindrical parts in an engine that lift pushrods. These little bars, in turn, shoot up to apply pressure and open the valves. In order to operate, this mechanism, otherwise known as the valve train, needs to be properly lubricated. That’s why lifters have tiny holes on the sides to let in motor oil.
The primary function of the valve train is actually to keep the engine as quiet as possible. However, there are several types of lifters with varying levels of success in this area.
- Hydraulic valve lifters are the most common type. They’re self-adjusting and all around the most convenient, which is why most passenger cars have them.
- Solid lifters do require some manual adjustment at times, though they’re great for racing engines. They also tend to be less noisy than hydraulic ones.
- Roller lifters are somewhere between the first two since they can be mechanical or hydraulic. The rollers are supposed to reduce the friction between the camshaft and the lifter, thereby reducing the noise.
If you take your car in to be serviced by a mechanic, they’re definitely checking your valves as well. They’d probably notice if they needed to adjust the valve lash or swap out a bent pushrod. Usually, there’s nothing that a trip to the mechanic won’t fix or even prevent.
Why Would the Lifters Become Noisy?
However, if you’re checking the car yourself, you might not be able to figure out the cause of the noisy lifters. Typically, though, the most likely culprits are the oil you’re using, dirt accumulation in the engine, or the lifters themselves being too old. However, since the last one is pretty unlikely, I decided to focus on solving the first two.
Fixing the first potential issue is fairly easy. Make sure that you’re using the correct 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.
Conversely, if it’s too thin, it won’t provide proper lubrication and padding. That could result in the metal parts damaging each other and causing a dip in the overall performance of the engine. So, it’s best to just use the right oil for your engine in the first place. As I’ll keep repeating throughout this review — abide by the manufacturer’s instructions.
I’ve said all of this in my previous article, which you should read if you have further questions. In any case, we’re here to find a solution to the second problem: dirt accumulation in the valve train. So, let’s see how you can find a product that can fix it.
What to Look for in Oil Additives
As most of you know, I like to prepare before I set out to look for any kind of product. That’s why I started by boiling down oil additives by their function.
There are several different types of oil additives including oil thinners, thickeners, and flushing agents. All of these serve fairly obvious purposes. However, the ones you’ll need to silence noisy lifters are oil stabilizers. These products break down the debris inside the engine while preserving the properties of the oil you’re using.
So, what do you need to be on the lookout for when shopping for oil additives for noisy lifters?
While the first instinct most people have is to go for the thickest oil or oil additive available, that may not be a great option. As I have mentioned, the oil needs to be thick enough to pass through the small openings inside the engine. So, always consult your engine manufacturer’s instructions or site. Many brands even offer suggestions as to which oil additive you should use.
However, most of the best oil additives won’t change the thickness of your engine oil. Therefore, you should be fine using any one of them. Still, it’s best to err on the side of caution and check with the manufacturer just the same.
Clearing and Preventing Debris
Of course, the primary function of an oil additive in this case is clearing the debris and rust from the valve train. Fortunately, most of the products on my list are perfect for that purpose. Moreover, oil additives should also prevent rust and debris from occurring in the future.
Ideally, you should be adding oil additives to the oil when you change it. Once you let your engine run for a while, the oil additive should circulate wherever the oil is, and essentially flush the pipes. You should be left with a completely clean engine, which should also optimize its performance.
Optimizing Engine Performance
Since oil additives take care of your engine from within, an oil stabilizer should also promise some kind of performance improvement. And, if the additive does its job, you should indeed see a notable reduction in friction. However, I didn’t simply rely on the manufacturer’s claims on this one and neither should you.
After all, most brands want to present themselves in the best light, right? So, you should always take stock of the user opinions. Whether it’s asking friends about their favorite additive or checking online reviews, you should always know what you’re buying.
If the manufacturer makes the chemical composition of their oil additives available, it can’t hurt to check out a few of the ingredients. Although the majority of them are mostly composed of mineral oil, or petroleum distillates, you might want to check for some other ingredients.
For example, zinc and phosphorus are both performance boosters you’ll want to see in the product composition. However, many manufacturers make it frustratingly difficult to see what’s in their products. Still, I’ll make sure to point out if I’ve sussed out the ingredients of the products in my reviews.
Believe it or not, you don’t actually have to worry about the price of oil additives. Typically, you only need a bottle per tank of oil, and most of them are in the under $20 range! Sure, there are some that push the limit at a higher price point. In fact, the priciest product on my list is about $50. And, for the benefits you’ll get, I’d say that’s about fair.
The Best Oil Additives for Noisy Lifters
Despite the fact that the cost isn’t an issue here, I’ve still decided to use my standard price ascending order of presenting these products. Keep in mind, though, that some of these additives come with varying amounts of product in them. However, I did not calculate the prices per ounce and am simply presenting the products at face value.
1. Bar’s Products Rislone Engine Treatment
The Rislone Engine Treatment is one of the best products on the market if you want 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 little thing does everything you need it to: it removes debris and quiets lifters. It should also improve the overall engine performance and reduce friction. Moreover, the Rislone treatment won’t mess with 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 — what more can you possibly ask for?
- 16.9 ounces per 5 quarts
- 3–10 cylinder vehicles
- Gasoline, diesel, or turbo engines
2. Liqui Moly Hydraulic Lifter Additive
Liqui Moly is one of the most trusted names in the game. Their Hydraulic Lifter Additive also gets you 10 ounces of product for under $10. So, let’s see what this hugely famous product can do for you and your engine.
Essentially, just like the previous product, and all good oil additives, it will make the problem of noisy lifters go away. The additive will also clear out any rust and particles along the valve train and beyond. It won’t affect your oil viscosity, which is to be expected from one of the best products on the market.
Thankfully, 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. In fact, the only gripe I’ve seen about this additive is that it’s not suitable for motorcycles that use wet clutches.
- 10 ounces for up to 6 quarts
- Gasoline, diesel, and turbo engines
- Not suitable for wet clutches
3. Marvel Mystery Oil the Original Oil Enhancer and Fuel Treatment
Marvel Mystery Oil is another very famous and reliable brand on the market. At just above the $10 price point, you can get 16 ounces of their Original Oil Enhancer & Fuel Treatment. In fact, you can also get it in a 2-pack, a 32-ounce bottle, or a 6-pack of 32-ounce bottles. But can it help your noisy lifter problem?
In a word? Yes! Because this oil treatment contains tricresyl phosphate, a phosphorus compound, you can be sure that your engine will get the cleaning of a lifetime. You should also notice a definite performance improvement because of the resulting decrease in friction.
Furthermore, you’ll be able to use this in conventional, 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 planning on using 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.
- Replaces 20% of the oil
- Conventional, synthetic, 2 and 4-cycle oil
- Gas, diesel and ethanol fuels
4. Red Line Break-in Oil Additive with Zinc
If you were impressed by the previous product’s cleaning abilities, wait till you see this one. At a price point of under $20, the Red Line Engine Break-in Additive combines the power of zinc and phosphorus. Needless to say, you won’t hear a peep out of your lifters for quite some time.
Both zinc and phosphorus will bring about a huge performance improvement, as I have mentioned. In addition, its antiwear components 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.
- 16 ounces enough for 12 quarts
- Zinc and phosphorus performance boost
- Conventional and synthetic oils
5. BestLine Premium Synthetic Engine Treatment
The BestLine Synthetic Engine Treatment is a great pre-cleaning additive. Like all the best of them, it’ll break apart the rust and debris inside of the engine and restore proper oil circulation.
As always, your engine will also perform better and you won’t have to change the oil as often. In addition to reducing friction, temperature, and wear, the treatment will also reduce 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 impact on the environment, why not?
I’m also a huge proponent of lowering noise pollution (can you tell?) and this product will do that, too. If you end up purchasing it, a 16-ounce bottle goes for under $20. You can use it with all types of oil by replacing about 10–15% of the oil with this oil additive.
- 16 ounces to replace 10–15% of oil capacity
- Lowers harmful emissions
- Great for all types of oil
6. BestLine Premium Synthetic Diesel Engine Treatment
Consider this product pretty much the same as the previous one, only diesel-specific. It’s also available at a similar price point and even has similar packaging. Actually, this and the next two products kind of make up a diesel trifecta, so if your car is running on that kind of fuel, you’ll want to listen up.
This BestLine treatment shares all of its features with the previous one I just reviewed. So expect to see and hear a vast improvement in engine performance. There will be a decrease in temperature, friction, and wear, and harmful emissions. And, just like with the last product, you’ll need to replace 10–15% of your oil with this additive.
- 16 ounces to replace 10–15% of oil capacity
- Lowers harmful emissions
- Works with any type of oil
- Optimized for diesel fuel
7. zMax 51−212 Engine Formula
First of all, I should promise that I didn’t only put the zMax Engine Formula on my list for its mad−scientist packaging. By all accounts, it has an amazing effect on an engine. However, the packaging certainly isn’t a deterrent.
The micro-lubricant particles of this oil additive work to break apart not only the floating rust particles inside your engine but also the ones layered on its inner pathways. The product will give your engine a thorough cleaning. It will also reduce the friction, protecting individual parts against the wear. That alone will be enough to extend 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.
- 12 ounce for 7 quarts
- Reduces emissions
- All types of oil
8. Archoil AR9100 Friction Modifier
Finally, if you’ve read any of my other product reviews, you’ll know how much I love to close on the priciest option. So, let’s see what a $50 price point might get you in terms of oil additives.
The Archoil Friction Modifier is marketed as an oil additive for all vehicles. It does all of the standard things we’ve come to expect from an oil additive and then some more. It will reduce the wear and extend the life of the engine. In addition, it will also clear out the rust particles and reduce engine noise and temperature overall.
Not only does it work on diesel and gasoline engines, but it will also do well with gearboxes, hydraulics, and power steering systems. Additionally, the oil additive is a total fix for injector problems in Powerstroke Cold Start engines.
The package contains 16 ounces of the product, which should be enough 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.
- 1.2 ounces per quart
- Use it on the engine, gear, and hydraulic oils and power steering fluid
- Compatible with diesel and gasoline engines
Final Thoughts on Best Oil Additives
So those are about the best products on the market. At this point, I might as well also warn you all about another product I’ve come across while researching the ones on my list. Apparently, many people have had issues with the TriboTEX Oil Additive Car Engine Treatment. However, you don’t need to worry about the oil additives on my list underperforming in a similar way.
If you don’t believe me — just ask your local mechanic. They’ll tell you that any of the products on my list will do your engine a world of good, depending on the type of engine and oil you use, of course.
Once you’re able to hear something beyond the constant ticking of your valve lifters, you’ll never be the same. Believe me, it’s always better to drive without the added distraction of mysterious noises in your car. I know that I, for one, am much happier listening to music than road noise, in any case.
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