Reader Question: Ticking Liftered Yukon?

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Here’s the latest reader question, along with my reply!

Steve asks: I have a 2001 Yukon Denali 6.0L and 92,101 miles on it. I have a recent ticking in the engine. Took it to a mechanic, who has never serviced our vehicle for us before and he said the ticking comes from the bottom of the oil pan area and since the lifters cannot be replaced on this engine I would need a new engine.Then I’m reading other people having ticking in their engines and others saying that lifters can be replaced. Who do I believe?

My reply: Don’t believe this mechanic. He is either incompetent – or a crook. Lifters can be replaced. The questions is… is it necessary? And: Is the cost of the repair (if it’s necessary) worth it relative to the value of the vehicle?

The first thing to determine is whether the ticking is due to lifters – which could just be sticking – or an oiling/oil-related issue (some engines use oil pressure to operate variable valve/cam timing systems). You might just have low oil – or cruddy oil. Or varnish in the engine. You shouldn’t have bad lifters with only 92k on the clock – unless the vehicle was driven hard and poorly maintained.

There are diagnostic tests any competent mechanic can do to establish the need to replace the lifter(s) that are failing. If they are.

I’d establish whether the right oil is in the crankcase – weight is very important with late model engines, If it’s too thin, you might get some ticking (and other problems). I’d then try changing the oil you’ve got with a high quality oil such as AMSOIL  and see whether that takes care of the ticking issue.

If it turns out that your engine does have a bad lifter (or several) then you’ll have to weigh the cost of the repair against the worth of the vehicle. Lifter replacement isn’t a massive job but it is a fairly involved job requiring removal of the intake manifold and whatever has to come off before that to make that possible. The valvetrain has to be partially disassembled (e.g., rocker arms loosened, pushrods, etc.) But the whole thing ought not to cost more than $1,500 or so.

Your low-mileage (for its year) Yukon is surely worth several times that, at least – unless its a rust bucket. And assuming the engine is otherwise sound, with only 92k on the clock, it ought to be fine for another 92k, at least!

. . .

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