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Lifters going bad on 5.3L-common problem apparently?


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Have been noticing a lot of buzz on the FB Trail Boss/AT4 groups about people having lifters failing. All really low mileage too. Has me a bit concerned about my purchase! I always heard the 5.3L was a "tried and true" motor for GM.

 

I know people tend to go online and complain when they have an issue, but damn. Been noticing a lot of the "failed lifters" posts lately, from different people, complete with audio of how the motors sounds. Are these motors just a ticking time bomb, waiting to ****** the bed? Even if just 25% of 5.3L owners experience this at some point, I would consider that too high. Thoughts?

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IMO

The best thing you can do is shorter oil and filter change intervals. I wouldn't go over 5 K miles. If you want to extend the mileage, go to 100% synthetic oil like Amsoil.

 

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No issues for me as of yet but only 6500 miles, I heard that they were running em at the dealership on high idle for x amount of time and then selling em if they passed the pre-run I think it was in here as a TSB?

Anyway with a 60k warranty I am not that worried for a long while.

 

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I absolutely adore this truck. One of the nicest looking vehicles I've owned.

 

But I will say, coming from years of headache free and reliable car ownership (owned nothing but Hondas before buying this truck), I simply will not accept major engine/transmission issues from a truck this new and this expensive! Fingers crossed I never have to deal with it, but if it ever has to go in for major warranty work, will most likely have the repairs made and then get rid of it for a...gulp...Tundra.

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All good points. 

 

If a failure due to materials or workmanship is going to happen, it will show itself early and warranty will handle it.  

If a failure is due to lubrication....dyier2 nailed it. Use the severe schedule for all other fluids. 

If a failure is due to design issues it will happen shortly after the warranty expires. That IS the design. The tool you use to beat that demon back is wisdom. Treat it better than you think it should have to be and it will live longer than you expect it to. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by Grumpy Bear
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We have the lifter failure in our Ram Hemi's too. For us, the strategy appears to be: run Redline 5w-30 oil with high amounts of moly, then send used oil off to Blackstone for an analysis. They tell you how much life is left in the oil, and also the amounts of wear metals (iron/copper/aluminum etc) that is inside your oil so hopefully if your lifters are on the way out then that should show up in the report before it happens.

 

One theory why this is happening (to the hemi); high idle hours, cop cars etc sit their and idle and with that usage you need to change the oil every 2 to 4 weeks, which isn't going to happen with a cop car.

 

Second theory which might apply to your 5.3 as well since you have a similar lifter setup; dirty oil gets into the needle bearings and seizes them, preventing the lifter from rolling on the cam. Eventually the lifter takes out the cam, it just grinds the lobe flat over time. If this is the case, a very high quality oil filter from Royal Purple or Wix can help, as well as a high quality oil with good cleaning detergents in it, and of course change the oil on time.

 

So we are running a thicker oil, Redline 5w-30 is almost as thick as some other 5w-40's. But the hemi originally called for a 30 weight, previous manuals state 30 can be used when 20 is not available. This voids our warranty of course if they find out, since Redline does not meet the spec (or rather, they didn't pay to get their oil certified).

 

I don't know what I would run in your case, but I would definitely do the used oil analysis as well as lower oil change intervals for some peace of mind.

Edited by the wanderer
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3 minutes ago, the wanderer said:

We have the lifter failure in our Ram Hemi's too. For us, the strategy appears to be: run Redline 5w-30 oil with high amounts of moly, then send used oil off to Blackstone for an analysis. They tell you how much life is left in the oil, and also the amounts of wear metals (iron/copper/aluminum etc) that is inside your oil so hopefully if your lifters are on the way out then that should show up in the report before it happens.

 

So we are running a thicker oil, Redline 5w-30 is almost as thick as some other 5w-40's. But the hemi originally called for a 30 weight, previous manuals state 30 can be used when 20 is not available. This voids our warranty of course if they find out, since Redline does not meet the spec (or rather, they didn't pay to get their oil certified).

 

I don't know what I would run in your case, but I would definitely do the used oil analysis for some peace of mind.

Thats a great suggestion, especially just to have the piece of mind!

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20 minutes ago, the wanderer said:

 

So we are running a thicker oil, Redline 5w-30 is almost as thick as some other 5w-40's. But the hemi originally called for a 30 weight, previous manuals state 30 can be used when 20 is not available. This voids our warranty of course if they find out, since Redline does not meet the spec (or rather, they didn't pay to get their oil certified).

 

 

This is a Hot Button topic for me currently and I love talking about it. There are five points on the viscosity scale an SAE grade must meet to get its classification for that grade.

 

1.) Low temperature cranking viscosity, Maximum

2.) Low temperature pumping viscosity, Maximum

3.) Viscosity at 100 C (212 F) Maximum

4.) Viscosity at 100 C (212 F) Minimum

5.) HTHS viscosity at 150 C ( 302 F) Minimum

 

The bold in the quote and the bold on the list are what Red Line means when it states of it's 5W30:

 

"Thicker oil film at operating temperature than a petroleum 10W40"

 

I underlined at operating temperature to point to the fact that the place an oil is most likely to fail at its job is in areas, such as the space between the first and second compression rings, where oil temperatures can routinely reach the HTHS test range and film thickness is measured in microns. Quick table of minimum spec requirements for HTHS:

 

*W16 has a minimum HTHS viscosity of 2.3 cP.

*W20 2.6 cP

*W30 2.9 cP

0/5/10W40 3.5 cP

15/20W40 3.7 cP

*W50 & *W60 3.7 cP 

 

Some useful examples

Mobil 1 0W20 HTHS 2.7 cP

AMSOIL 0W20 HTHS 2.67 cP

Red Line 0W20 HTHS 2.9 cP or equal to the 10W30 spec

MPT Thirty=K 0W20 HTHS 3.2 cP exceeds the *W30 spec

 

image.jpeg.f3cc912d30783434b72fcb9d0b876a3a.jpeg

 

In the chart above ring wear really depends on HTHS more than another part of the motor.

 

Low HTHS oils: the art of balancing fuel efficiency and engine protection -  Official Q8Oils Website

 

Point being OEM is targeting Fuel Efficiency. Thus the 2.7 target.

Wear Prevention however requires more. 2.9 cP or more.

 

Myself, I run AMSOIL 10W30 (3.23 cP)

 

 

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1 hour ago, Vtecluder617 said:

I simply will not accept major engine/transmission issues... but if it ever has to go in for major warranty work, will most likely have the repairs made and then get rid of it for a...gulp...Tundra.

 

Trading one problem for another.  Tundras have their own issues too.  Run the severe service schedule for maintenance and it is very likely you will experience years of trouble free service.

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3 hours ago, Grumpy Bear said:

 

This is a Hot Button topic for me currently and I love talking about it. There are five points on the viscosity scale an SAE grade must meet to get its classification for that grade.

 

1.) Low temperature cranking viscosity, Maximum

2.) Low temperature pumping viscosity, Maximum

3.) Viscosity at 100 C (212 F) Maximum

4.) Viscosity at 100 C (212 F) Minimum

5.) HTHS viscosity at 150 C ( 302 F) Minimum

 

The bold in the quote and the bold on the list are what Red Line means when it states of it's 5W30:

 

"Thicker oil film at operating temperature than a petroleum 10W40"

 

I underlined at operating temperature to point to the fact that the place an oil is most likely to fail at its job is in areas, such as the space between the first and second compression rings, where oil temperatures can routinely reach the HTHS test range and film thickness is measured in microns. Quick table of minimum spec requirements for HTHS:

 

*W16 has a minimum HTHS viscosity of 2.3 cP.

*W20 2.6 cP

*W30 2.9 cP

0/5/10W40 3.5 cP

15/20W40 3.7 cP

*W50 & *W60 3.7 cP 

 

Some useful examples

Mobil 1 0W20 HTHS 2.7 cP

AMSOIL 0W20 HTHS 2.67 cP

Red Line 0W20 HTHS 2.9 cP or equal to the 10W30 spec

MPT Thirty=K 0W20 HTHS 3.2 cP exceeds the *W30 spec

 

image.jpeg.f3cc912d30783434b72fcb9d0b876a3a.jpeg

 

In the chart above ring wear really depends on HTHS more than another part of the motor.

 

Low HTHS oils: the art of balancing fuel efficiency and engine protection -  Official Q8Oils Website

 

Point being OEM is targeting Fuel Efficiency. Thus the 2.7 target.

Wear Prevention however requires more. 2.9 cP or more.

 

Myself, I run AMSOIL 10W30 (3.23 cP)

 

 

Wow, this is some great information! So it appears the 10W30 would be the best bet for this engine. What does GM recommend for it? I haven't had the oil changed yet, so wasn't sure. 

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3 hours ago, swathdiver said:

 

Trading one problem for another.  Tundras have their own issues too.  Run the severe service schedule for maintenance and it is very likely you will experience years of trouble free service.

I hear ya. Definitely not trying to imply that that the Tundra is perfect. But for me personally, I can deal with issues ranging from electronics, leaky rear windows, suspension parts, etc. I would draw the line at engine and transmission issues. An issue that could potentially leave me stranded somewhere, in a brand new $50K truck, doesn't sit right with me. No matter what faults the Tundra may have, I hear nothing but positive about their bullet proof engine! Some of the mileage claims on those trucks honestly makes me jealous. I would truly be happy and satisfied if my 5.3L in my TB LT lasted to 150K miles without major issues. 

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Most 2019-2021 here at work are fine, no issues.  We've had 3-4 trucks get lifters at under 5,000 miles however, all 5.3s so far.  One is in right now, a 2021 Tahoe at 4,000 miles.  Had two cylinders misfiring (one on each bank) and bent one pushrod.  Its getting 4 pushrods and 16 lifters as GM wants all active lifters on a failed bank replaced, not just affected cylinders.  

 

 

6 hours ago, Robby James said:

No issues for me as of yet but only 6500 miles, I heard that they were running em at the dealership on high idle for x amount of time and then selling em if they passed the pre-run I think it was in here as a TSB?

Anyway with a 60k warranty I am not that worried for a long while.

 

 

That was for valve spring failure not AFM/DFM lifters.  

Edited by newdude
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56 minutes ago, Vtecluder617 said:

I would truly be happy and satisfied if my 5.3L in my TB LT lasted to 150K miles without major issues. 

 

It very likely will with proper maintenance.  More than a few of the older generation motors are running just fine with over 400K miles on the clock.

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35 minutes ago, swathdiver said:

 

It very likely will with proper maintenance.  More than a few of the older generation motors are running just fine with over 400K miles on the clock.

I plan on maintaining it to a T. Fingers crossed!

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8 hours ago, Vtecluder617 said:

Have been noticing a lot of buzz on the FB Trail Boss/AT4 groups about people having lifters failing. All really low mileage too. Has me a bit concerned about my purchase! I always heard the 5.3L was a "tried and true" motor for GM.

 

I know people tend to go online and complain when they have an issue, but damn. Been noticing a lot of the "failed lifters" posts lately, from different people, complete with audio of how the motors sounds. Are these motors just a ticking time bomb, waiting to ****** the bed? Even if just 25% of 5.3L owners experience this at some point, I would consider that too high. Thoughts?

 

From GM's own history book, the 4.3L V6 is actually their most "tried and true" motor, due to its more compact design, less complexity, fewer moving parts, certified as industrial for fleets, and etc. It's possible that 4.3L V6 has always been rated more-reliable than 5.3L V8, since beginning of history.

 

I'll let owners compute on this one to support the claim. Which motor has been more-reliable to you?

Edited by waltchan
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