Commodore / HSV V8 LS engine, camshaft lifter fault issue

If you own a 1999-2017 V8 Commodore or HSV – Holden Special Vehicles read this.

Commodore & HSV V8 LS engine camshaft lifters issue.. The dreaded ticking sound. VT-VF 1999-2017

One of the most common problems faced by LS engines, especially in older (standard & modified engines), is hydraulic lifter failure, the dreaded ticking/squeaking sound.

As these vehicles are becoming older with higher mileage, we are regularly seeing failing camshaft lifters failing, broken valve springs and worn cam shaft bearings.

The first symptom of this may be a distinct ticking/knocking sound on one cylinder at idle, or a squeaking sound. If this happens, the car should be minimally driven, and taken to a quality knowledgeable LS/ Commodore workshop like JHP Vehicle Enhancements (most inexperience workshops will diagnose the sound as an engine belt pulley / alternator that needed to be replaced). Driving, or over revving the vehicle with a failing lifter/broken valve spring can damage more than just the camshaft / lifter, as ultimately the camshaft lobe hardening/lifter roller wheel / needle rollers will fail and can/will cause thousands more $$ to repair.

Most of the time, the cause of lifter failure is a worn lifter or lifter bucket from ineffective lubrication due to engine oil deterioration (poor engine servicing intervals), temporary or permanently low oil pressure (possibly from worn bearings), dirty oil, , worn or faulty lifter buckets, high rpm when the engine is cold, or softened valve springs that need replacing. Other times, the lifter roller wheel surface has failed (often due to poor oiling in the lifter bore) and this causes friction on the lobe, making a squeaking noise and damaging the cam lobe.

The best preventative action is to do regular oil & filter changes with quality oils, allow the engine to “warm up” on cold starts & to listen for new noises often and don’t ignore any new ticking / squeaking noises.

When the engine has done over 100,000 km,… change the lifters / lifter buckets at the first opportunity. Changing them requires the heads to be removed and means the engine will also need new head gaskets and head bolts, etc (we find using the genuine LS7 lifters & genuine buckets, gaskets & head bolts will give you good life from your valve train components for a street car (extra hi performance-track applications may require higher-end components). This is the perfect time to consider a new performance camshaft upgrade (and maybe upgraded CNC ported heads for extra power / torque while the heads are off). Note: Also, a great time to replace your oil pump, timing chain & sump gasket as these components will fail in time. JHP Vehicle Enhancements offers a range of performance LS camshafts from the very mild camshaft upgrade (perfect for a daily driver), up to the very high revving top end camshafts designed for high performance, ¼ mile & track racing (see below list).

Prices for performance camshaft upgrade with installation & dyno tuning start from $4500 +

Commodore LS1 L76 L77 L98 LS2 LS3 LSA engines.

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