Head gunk and push rod/rocker issue,help! - JeepForum.com
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post #1 of 7 Old 04-16-2010, 07:05 PM Thread Starter
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1998 TJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Portland
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Head gunk and push rod/rocker issue,help!

Ok so my 88 4.2 has been seeping a tad of oil from the valve cover gasket so I dropped by Advance to get a new one, plus I wanted to have a look see at the rockers,push rods etc. My jeep has a slight tick every once in a while after she warms up and from what I could tell with a screwdriver might be a lifter tick. I have read that this is common on the 4.2s and for the most part isnt a huge deal. So I get home pull the cover and start to clean it with a wire brush and brake parts cleaner. I noticed there is some sludge built up all over the head. I tried to spin all of the push rods in a circular motion, all of them except the 5th one back( #3 intake) turned easily. This is dead on where I am getting my tick from so my questions are....

Is there a way to unbolt the rocker and re-tighten it back down since it seems too tight. Keep in mind I dont have a torque wrench and basically would have to guess which I dont want to do.

Is there a safe way to clean some of the sludge off of the head without causing any issues. Im scared to do this since so much of it will just fall down into the lifters etc. The build up isnt crazy bad for a 22 yo vehicle with 137,000 miles but I hate to see it this way since Im already in there. Plus they didnt have any of the cork gaskets in stock so I spent all my extra coin for a $44 gasket!. Oh well if it fixes my seepage then I guess it will be worth it. I dont mind having to do a oil change in a few days since its almost time anyway but I cant afford to mess up my engine right now until I get my 4.0 swap stuff in line.

I know some of you jeepers always have some old tricks and insight that can really help me in this situation as you have always came through in the past. Im open to any suggestions as I have a lot to do this weekend and am somewhat crunched for time. Thanks in advance fellow jeepers!

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post #2 of 7 Old 04-16-2010, 09:16 PM
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The rockers are held on in pairs by a strap with 2 bolts that are torqued to 19lbs ft. There is no adjustment. If you are unable to spin the pushrod I would remove it for inspection. If the push rod is worn then you have a much bigger problem. You can try just replacing a single push rod but you are still stuck with a lifter that is also worn and it could quickly wear the new pushrod making it useless also. In that case you will have to remove the head and grill to remove and replace the lifters and camshaft.


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post #3 of 7 Old 04-17-2010, 07:46 AM Thread Starter
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I dont think its really bad since it only does it ever once in a while and only does it at idle. If I press on the gas at all and get the RPMs above idle it quits the tick. I am going to leave it as is and hope for the best. I already have a rebuilt 4.0 out of a Cherokee ready to go I just need a computer , wiring harness, clutch kit, flywheel, waterpump etc. to do the swap. Im tight on money right now and cant take a chance making it worse than it already is. Has anyone ever used the engine flush to get any build up off of the head? I think Ill try that and do my oil change.
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post #4 of 7 Old 04-17-2010, 10:11 AM
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A push rod will not spin if it is being compressed by the spring. Did you rotate the crank so you can get to all the rods with them uncompressed?

I replaced all my lifters (2.5L) because I had a lot of tick coming from the top of the motor. It reduced my ticking by about 80%. I mic'd the old lifters and there was a huge variation in wear between them.

As for cleaning the problem is that if you start messing with the sludge it can break loose and plug oil galleries and cause big problems in the bearings, etc... The best thing to do would be to simply switch to synthetic oil. This will clean things gradually over time and provide protection.

You can also run Marvel Mystery Oil or automatic non-Dextron trans fluid. Replace 1 quart of oil with 1 quart or the other. I don't really like this and just use synthetic but others might recommend it.

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post #5 of 7 Old 04-17-2010, 07:17 PM
Peter Nuss
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Replacing lifters without replacing the cam may reduce lifter noise, but, it will add plenty of metal to the oil in accelerated wear that will wear out other parts as the new surface on the lifter wears on the old surface of the cam. This is very different wear than a new cam and lifter create. This at best is a very temporary fix. Usually done on used cars lots in the old days. Do an oil analysis before and after a lifter change and see for yourself. Numerous manufactors have done this in the past with the intention of getting new cars through their warranty period as cheaply as possible also. I'd check for a bent pushrod, replace it and close it up.

If your engine is running fine, don't put anything in it to remove the sludge. I don't see a benefit to removing it. It's there and has been staying there for a long time. Keep you oil change regularly to remove wear metals and drive conservatively till the new engine. Good luck with the replacement engine.

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post #6 of 7 Old 04-17-2010, 07:48 PM
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Lots of these engines tick. If it's an occasional tick, let it be; chances are it will go on for a long time Even though there is a kind of folklore about it, I don't recommend transmission fluid as a treatment. Engine oil runs much hotter than trans fluid and it rapidly oxidizes in the engine. Not good.
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post #7 of 7 Old 04-18-2010, 08:00 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the replies guys, I ended up turning the crankshaft around and checked all the pushrods again. They all look ok and none are noticably bent, of course I know they really need to be pulled to check them right. My engine is running fine with no issues so I left them all be. I am going to change the oil this week even though its early. I am very good about keeping all of my fluids changed, I have changed the oil in my ax 15 5 times in a year. I actually change it every other oil change since its so easy to do and dont cost that much either. It sucks that the PO didnt take as good of care to my jeep as he should have. Hopefully I will get another 100,000 out of 4.2 before doing my 4.0 swap.
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