How to Change 5.3l Lifters without Removing Heads?

The 5.3l engine in your car is the powerhouse that drives the car. It is responsible for providing power and torque to your wheels, making it one of the most important parts of your car. However, despite its importance, 5.3l lifters sometimes cause problems.

When this happens, your engine may not be able to generate the required power and this can lead to various problems. To fix the problem you need to change the 5.3l lifters. In this case, you can complete this operation without removing the head. 

In this blog, we are going to teach you how to change the 5.3l lifter without removing heads. By following our simple steps, you’ll be able to fix your engine in no time.

Can You Change the Lifters Without Removing the Heads?

Yes, you can do the 5.3l lifters replacement without removing the heads on most vehicles. In this case, however, the exception is certain Impreza models where a special tool must be used to remove the head bolts. Except for exceptional models, our simple steps will get you back on track in no time.

Exact Time to Change the 5.3l Lifters

5.3l lifters can be damaged for various reasons. The main thing that happens when it is broken is that the lifters do not produce enough power. The best time to replace 5.3l lifters is usually when low-end torque problems occur. If this is the case then in most cases you can fix the problem by replacing the elevator and your car will return to its normal performance level.

In addition, you may notice signs that you need to change the lifters in your car. E.g.

  • Crack and wear under the camshaft;
  • Stubborn rust on the surface of the lifters;
  • Stuck lifters that create ticking sound;
  • Collapsed lifters that cause a misfire;
  • A damaged lifter causes vehicle backfiring;
  • The rocker arm of the cylinder will be unstable and make a lot of noise while the engine is operating.

If the lifters are oil-stained and have a leak, you must inspect and replace them.

The expense of Changing the 5.3l Lifters without Removing Heads

If you want to replace the 5.3l lifter without removing the head, you do not have to count too much money. In most cases, it will cost you around $ 50- $ 60 depending on the model of your car.

Replacing the engine’s camshaft, on the other hand, costs about $ 1,000. In this case, the final cost must vary depending on how much damage happened to the engine.

How to Change 5.3l Lifters without Removing Heads?

Changing the 5.3l lifters yourself is a great way to save some money. You should perform the following steps and change 5.3l lifters without removing heads:

Steps to Change 5.3l Lifters infographic

Step 1: Analyse the Engine

Technically, replacing a broken lifter seems not so difficult. To do this, however, you need to remove a large portion of the engine. You should have minimum technical knowledge for this. First, you need to investigate the entire engine and familiarize yourself with everything. All you can do is take some photos of different portions of the engine to remember the whole structure. You can also click pictures while doing original work. Above all, in the owner’s manual, you will find additional data about all the sensors, ducts, and pipes.

Step 2: Detach and Discard the Wires, Sensors, and Duct Pipes

Finished surveying the engine? Then remove the engine wire, duct pipe, and sensor. Through the throttle box, go to intake ducting and tubing and disconnect them too. Hold your stare on the engine sensors and deal with them with a strong focus.

Step 3: Unroll the Car’s Manifold

Usually, there are two manifolds in a 5.3l engine – the upper and the lower. If you want to reach the lower manifold, you must peel off the upper manifold at first. The function of the manifold is to distribute the air to all the cylinders of the engine. Cylinder heads are bound to the manifold. When air reaches a cylinder, it spreads air evenly across multiple cylinders.

This time, the wires and sensors attached to the manifold need to be disconnected. Notice that a total of six bolts are securing the upper manifold. You must detach all of them although it will take you a long time to remove them. Now, disconnect the wires from the lowest and top of the light with the help of an Allen wrench. Now, you may be worried about losing a part. Don’t worry because the fasteners are connected to other parts of the engine which will bring it easier to reunite the engine later.

Step 4: Discard the Shattered Lifter

Eliminate all nuts and bolts from the car engine as well as from the lower intake. After that, remove all the fasteners, even the clocked ones, before the end of the engine bay. Next, separate the upper manifold from the lower manifold. Sometimes it gets stuck or jammed. If this happens to you, use a rubber mallet and tap gently. However, be careful not to use screwdrivers in this case. It is because screwdrivers can take over the engine and damage the head for which you may have to remove or replace them. However, if you remove the upper manifold, there is easy access to the faulty lifters and remove them.

Step 5: Initiate New Lifters

Now it’s time to install the new lifters. You can fit the new lifters into their sockets by following the correct pattern. Be careful not to mash the pattern, because it will cause the lifters to wear out quickly. Gloves must be worn while performing this task. In the right bore, rotate the lifters. It is important to keep the lifters accurate, so use a wrench. Then, compress them with oil.

Step 6: Install the Wires, Duct Pipes, and Sensors 

If you follow the steps above, that is, install the new lifter and refill with oil, then all the sensors, duct pipes, and wires need to be reconnected properly. If you forget where those were mounted, you can take the help of the images you clicked early. You will be able to mount the engine parts properly by following the photographs. However, if you make a mistake while connecting a cable or parts, assume that your repairs are going to be more expensive.

Finally, before turning on the engine, it is necessary to double-check that all parts of the engine are OK. If you discover an error, such as a mixed link, you can start the engine only after you fix it. Allow some time to turn on the engine and confirm the operation of the newly installed lifters. If the engine is running smoothly, then understand that you have set everything correctly. However, if the engine makes a noise while running, you will need to reopen it and reinstall the lifters.

Can You Drive With a Bad Lifter?

It is possible to drive with a bad lifter and no doubt about it. But as a result, the engine will make too much noise and it will make you feel annoyed and damage the engine. So, if you notice an engine problem while driving your car, you should immediately take steps to repair it or replace the lifters completely.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Are lifters hard to replace?

Replacing the lifters is not difficult, but it does require some time and patience. You should be able to do it yourself if you have basic mechanical skills.

2. Can you replace lifters without removing heads?

Yes, you can replace the lifters without removing the heads. However, it’s a good idea to do so if there are any concerns about how well the engine was installed in the first place.

3. Can I just replace lifters?

No, you should always replace the lifters set altogether. This will ensure that everything is installed correctly and that the engine operates smoothly.

4. How long does it take to change lifters?

It takes around 60 minutes to replace the lifter’s set altogether. However, it depends on how well you know how to do it. If you have any mechanical skills, then the job can be done in slightly less time.


Here you have replaced the old lifters with new ones. You should always check to ensure that everything is installed correctly before starting the engine. If there are any problems, then you will need to take your car in for repairs or replace the entire lifters set altogether.

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William Baldwin

This Is William Baldwin, The Founder & Managing Editor of this website. Me and my team share automotive tips, tricks, and news

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Talha Atta

Talha Atta, a Mechanical Engineer and experienced technical content writer and editor at with a passion for the automotive industry.