Is it safe (i.e. won't damage engine) to drive car with bad lifter because of dirty oil (not sludge)?

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by mshan, Jan 12, 2008.

  1. mshan

    mshan Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    0
    My car started making a funny noise last Thursday (car makes new noise, but seems to drive totally normally). I had a loose belly pan where all screws have fallen out, but I was able to secure back two ones since they were still there. Sound is still there and now my engine really sounds like a diesel engine.

    I think it might be a bad lifter because of dirty oil (not sludge). Last oil change was Mobil 1 0w40 about 9000 miles ago.

    Is it safe to drive car around town till I get it evaluated, or is there risk of causing damage to engine by doing so?


    1999 Audi A4 1.8 liter Turbo Quattro manual (slightly less than 53000 miles)


    EDIT: if I had a problem developing with turbo, would I see performance difference (i.e. car wouldn't drive normally)?

    EDIT #2: And can I add an additional quart of oil as a temporizing measure? (is it possible to overfill an engine with oil? last oil change I think they used 4 quarts).
     
  2. cardiac

    cardiac Platinum Member

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 1999
    Messages:
    2,028
    Likes Received:
    1
    If it is indeed a lifter (Does the 1.8 Audi have lifters?), then it would be OK for a while. But until that is determined, I wouldn't drive it. If it is a bearing on the crankshaft or cam, then it would damage it by driving it further.

    If it's a turbo problem there may or may not be a performance hit....

    Don't add any more oil than the manufacturer recommends.

     
  3. thedarkwolf

    thedarkwolf Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 1999
    Messages:
    8,692
    Likes Received:
    17
    Probably has hydraulic lash adjusters which are basically lifters so lots of people still call them lifters including me. If it were the turbo you would hear a howling kind of sound not so much a ticking kind of sound. When the bearing go out in the turbo the wheels can move around and hit the housing which makes the howling/grinding kind of noise. Doubt you have that problem at only 53k miles though unless you just got a bum turbo from the factory. It could also be a bad exhaust manifold gasket. When those things leak they tick and sound a lot like a bad lifter. As the manifold heats up and expands they will often times seal up and quiet back down again.

    Have you checked the oil level yet? If you have lost oil from the belly pan that will certainly cause the lifters to tick and if its real low it will soon take out the bearings and you will get knocking to go with the ticking which is really bad.
     
  4. mshan

    mshan Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    0
    Oil level appears fine.

    Oil appears very dirty, though.

    Do you think it is safe to drive about 7 miles to garage that services Audis?
     
  5. mshan

    mshan Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've been googling for engine knocking and engine tapping.

    I think the sound my car makes is engine tapping (higher pitched sound sounds like coming from inside top of engine itself).

    Would make sense that it is (I pray) just a clogged lifter that can be fixed with an oil change.

    Not going to drive car at all, except to take to garage for servicing.

    If it were a low pitched knocking, seems like recommendation would be to have it towed to garage. Is engine knocking something that would be see in car with low miles like mine (53000 miles, though 8 years old). Oil was lasted changed (Mobil 1 0w40 about 9000 miles ago).
     
  6. OUCaptain

    OUCaptain Golden Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2007
    Messages:
    1,522
    Likes Received:
    0
    Step 1. Change the freakin oil!!!

    then evaluate
     
  7. thedarkwolf

    thedarkwolf Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 1999
    Messages:
    8,692
    Likes Received:
    17
    Read this not exactly good news for you. I'd suggest finding an Audi forum and seeing what they say to do. You maybe able to get away with just flushing the engine and changing the oil more often from now on rather then following the owners manual.
     
  8. mshan

    mshan Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, I am not going to drive car at all, except to garage that services Audi, and pray that it is only a clogged lifter.
     
  9. mshan

    mshan Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think it's ticking (just started engine and idled from cold start and it sounds like there is this tapping in the right front part of engine).

    Can you tell me how to distinguish ticking from knocking (sound quality, location, exacerbating and attenuating situations) and likely situations in which they occur. Is fatal engine knock something that happens with an engine with a lot of miles on it or has been driven aggressively?


    And check check engine or low oil pressure lights come on if I am in that dangerous to destroying engine zone?
     
  10. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Messages:
    24,973
    Likes Received:
    326
    Some just call them hydraulic lifters. :D

    Sounds like you might have just missed the warranty period. :brokenheart:
     
  11. Colt45

    Colt45 Lifer

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2001
    Messages:
    19,723
    Likes Received:
    0
    a little lifter tick never hurt anyone. Mine ticks at idle... bought new lifters but didnt get around to changing them yet. $11 each or something, x10. (x20 for 1.8T)

    exhaust, qty 8
    058 109 309 E

    intake, qty 12
    058 109 309 F

    look about $20 each... probably $300-350 for a set.

    Run a few changes of good synthetic oil through and see if the ticking stops. I'd change it more on a 5k schedule, unless you do mostly highway driving. The light oil you've got will tick more than a heavier oil.
    5w30 in winter, 15w50 in the summer.. something like that.

     
  12. Throckmorton

    Throckmorton Lifer

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2007
    Messages:
    16,833
    Likes Received:
    0
    Why did you wait 9000 miles to change the oil?
     
  13. mshan

    mshan Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    0
    How can you tell the difference between fairly benign ticking and much more dangerous knocking (?)?

    I usually drive less than 7000 miles per year and was planning on changing oil in the next couple months, but I made several 1000 mile round trips recently and problem just popped up a couple days ago.

    EDIT: it also started all of a sudden. Car has less than 53000 miles on it, usually just running errands around town several times a week, with several 500 mile/each way trips per year. I'm just a little worried about potential of doing real engine damage if it knocking, but I am guessing that is more something that happens with car with lots of miles on it and / or aggressive driving habits. Is this correct logic (basically risk of engine damage typically occurs with end of life engine due to heavy lifetime wear?)
     
  14. LTC8K6

    LTC8K6 Lifer

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Messages:
    24,973
    Likes Received:
    326
    Isn't 5W-30 lighter than 0W-40 when the oil is up to temp?

    OP, you don't appear to have determined exactly what the noise is yet.

     
  15. mshan

    mshan Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yep, I'm hoping it's just lifter tick, and hoping it's not anything worse (i.e. I have already damaged my engine).

    Taking car to mechanic on Tuesday.
     
  16. mooseracing

    mooseracing Golden Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Messages:
    1,712
    Likes Received:
    0

    Technically yes on the oil temp thing.

    Also don't overfill your crankcase with oil. The oil will start splashing as the crank hits it and can cause oil starvation and more issues.
     
  17. Cdubneeddeal

    Cdubneeddeal Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2003
    Messages:
    7,477
    Likes Received:
    2
    OP, try to put some Seafoam or Marvel Mystery Oil in it. If the lifters are indeed just clogged it should clear them. However, you'll need to change the oil about 20 miles after you put the stuff in.
     
  18. mshan

    mshan Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    0
    Anybody think there is any need that I have the car towed to garage?

     
  19. mooseracing

    mooseracing Golden Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Messages:
    1,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    It's your car, it's up to you. It might be something really minor, it could be major, but from the sounds of you, you don't have the experience to differentiate between the two. If you don't want to risk it have it towed or trailer, it shouldn't be more than 50 bucks. But whoever fixes it will have to start it up.
     
  20. mshan

    mshan Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    0
    Yes, based upon my limited knowledge, I suspect it is lifter tick (tapping in my case).

    I think I am going to risk driving it about 7 miles to the garage.

    I bought oil already and will keep it in car, and if check engine or oil pressure light pops on during driving, I will pull over, add some oil, wait a couple minutes, and hopefully be able to restart without problem.

    EDIT: generally speaking, how can I differentiate lifter tick from something more ominous (knocking). I understand that I am responsible for any damage to my engine if I choose to start it up.
     
  21. DougK62

    DougK62 Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2001
    Messages:
    8,031
    Likes Received:
    3
    Don't drive it, have it towed.

    And you might want to consider taking better care of something that costs so much money.

     
  22. mooseracing

    mooseracing Golden Member

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2006
    Messages:
    1,712
    Likes Received:
    0
    Why do you have oil in the car, is it leaking or burning it? Adding oil to a car that has low pressure and already has enough oil in it is just going to cause more problems. I didn't see it in the thread but is your oil pressure light coming on?

     
  23. mshan

    mshan Diamond Member

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2004
    Messages:
    7,869
    Likes Received:
    0
    I bought the oil for the oil change (garage uses different type of oil).

    Gonna put it in my car when I drive the car there.

    Car drives normally, and no check engine or oil warning lights have ever come on.