Piston Slap: 60 Percent of the Time, It Works Every Time?

Erik writes:

This morning I pulled in to work and a friend stopped me to ask about his 2006 Ford Explorer. A week ago he performed an oil change on his 4.0-liter V6. When he was changing the filter, the old oil filter’s gasket stuck on, but he didn’t see it and double gasketed it. When he fired up the engine oil spewed everywhere. The oil level ran low before he discovered it and shut off the engine. He kitty-littered the driveway, re-installed the filter, and topped the oil back up. He started the engine and his lifters started ticking. As I stood there talking with him, I could hear multiple lifters ticking. Is there a safe and reliable way to get the lifters pumped back up without disassembling the top end?

I googled “Ford 4.0 lifters ticking” and apparently the engine family has issues with lifters ticking when they get old, but I can’t find anything pertaining to lifters ticking after running the oil level low. The recommendations I see are to run thicker oil, Marvel Mystery Oil, STP oil treatment, Lucas oil stabilizer, ATF, etc. Are any of these a reasonable solution for his problem?

I’ve also read to just drive the truck as normal and the ticking will go away. This is what I’m inclined to recommend. Do you have any better info?

Please let me insert a tip I learned as a technician: when you change your oil filter, always wipe off the filter sealing surface and you will never have this problem.

Sajeev answers:

Be it an OHV or OHC configuration, the Ford Cologne V6 was plagued with valvetrain issues, though the stereotypical first or second owner (the ones owning before deep six-figure mileage) never knew about it. Even if Ford Cologne V6 lifter tick is quite pungent.

It stings the nostrils…but in a good way!

They’ve done studies, you know. 60 percent of the time, it works every time.

Okay, seriously: the one in the video above supposedly has 229,000 miles, and that’s not my Ranger fanboi tolerance speaking. And, according to the Internet, the 2002 and newer models received upgraded timing chain components. I reckon your friend did no harm after the oil filter leak: modern machines make low oil pressure issues less life-threatening — it’s one element of my Puffer Fish theory.

And what if major harm was done? Who frickin’ cares! The Cologne V6 is stupid common at junkyards, a few hundred dollars at the local pick-n-pull, several hundred more from www.car-part.com, and you can get it shipped to your garage. Sure, that’s not free and it’s a metric ton of work for one weekend, but I know you (i.e. you LeMons racers be so resourceful!) so you’ll make it happen. You can do it!

[Image: Ford]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice. 


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