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

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
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.

Join the conversation
3 of 53 comments
  • George B George B on Sep 29, 2017

    I'd just drive it. The Cologne 4.0 V6, even with valve noise, is likely to outlast the 5R55E transmission. If it breaks, you can buy an entire replacement Explorer for low thousands or you can buy something else. If absolutely everything expensive in the Explorer broke all at once, it's still a lot of useful parts and a big mass of scrap metal if you can get it to a salvage yard.

  • Pwrwrench Pwrwrench on Sep 30, 2017

    This is the second time in a week or so that the "double filter seal" has been mentioned on TTAC. I had Yogi Berra's "Deja Vu all over again" when I did a recent oil/filter change on the S O's Ford. I looked at the filter when I removed it. No rubber seal. It was still on the engine's filter mount. I think this is the second time in more than four decades and probably thousands of oil services that this has happened to me. I have seen it on vehicles others worked on. Once a customer brought his car in because he could not remove the filter. He did his own oil changes and the seal stuck to the filter mount. He just tightened the filter until it stopped leaking. Had to go buy a heavy duty filter wrench to remove that filter. And yes, I always oil the rubber seal/O-ring. Usually instructions on the box tell you to do that. Every workshop manual that I have ever read has that same instruction.

    • Mcs Mcs on Sep 30, 2017

      I wonder how often that happens at quick change shops like Jiffy Lube? Then again, they're well-trained highly skilled professionals that would never make that mistake

  • Analoggrotto A human who choses Tesla is telling the world that they are more intelligent than 98.5% of the remaining population. The Homo sapiens genome is evolving to the next species and it is starting with TESLA customers. We are the future, we are the galaxy, we will succeed all of humanity.
  • Alan The Prado shouldn't have the Landcruiser name attached. It isn't a Landcruiser as much as a Tacoma or 4 Runner or a FJ Cruiser. Toyota have used the Landcruiser name as a marketing exercise for years. In Australia the RAV4 even had Landcruiser attached years ago! The Toyota Landcruiser is the Landcruiser, not a tarted up Tacoma wagon.Here a GX Prado cost about $61k before on roads, this is about $41k USD. This is a 2.8 diesel 4x4 with all the off road tricky stuff, plus AC, power windows, etc. I'm wondering if Toyota will perform the Nissan Armada treatment on it and debase the Prado. The Patrol here is actually as capable and possibly more capable than the Landcruiser off road (according to some reviews). The Armada was 'muricanised and the off road ability was reduced a lot. Who ever heard of a 2 wheel drive Patrol.Does the US need the Prado? Why not. Another option to choose from built by Toyota that is overpriced and uses old tech.My sister had a Prado Grande, I didn't think much of it. It was narrow inside and not that comfortable. Her Grand Cherokee was more comfortable and now her Toureg is even more comfortable, but you can still feel the road in the seat of your pants and ears.
  • Jeffrey No tis vehicle doen't need to come to America. The market if flooded in this segment what we need are fun affordable vehicles.
  • Nrd515 I don't really see the point of annual inspections, especially when the car is under 3 years (warranty) old. Inspections should be safety related, ONLY, none of the nonsensical CA ARB rules that end up being something like, "Your air intake doesn't have an ARB sticker on it, so you have to remove it and buy one just like it that does have the ARB sticker on it!". If the car or whatever isn't puking smoke out of it, and it doesn't make your eyes water, like an old Chevy Bel-Air I was behind on Wed did, it's fine. I was stuck in traffic behind that old car, and wow, the gasoline smell was super potent. It was in nice shape, but man, it was choking me. I was amused by the 80 something old guy driving it, he even had a hat with a feather in it, THE sign of someone you don't want to be driving anywhere near you.
  • Lou_BC "15mpg EPA" The 2023 ZR2 Colorado is supposed to be 16 mpg