How to Adjust Solid Lifters Without Cam Card: A Comprehensive Guide

If you are into car restoration or tuning, then you know the importance of a well-adjusted valvetrain. The valvetrain is responsible for opening and closing the engine’s valves, allowing air and fuel to enter and exhaust to exit. The solid lifter is a crucial component of the valvetrain and must be adjusted correctly to prevent engine damage.

However, adjusting solid lifters without a cam card can be challenging, especially if you are new to engine building. In this article, we will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to adjust solid lifters without cam card.

What are Solid Lifters and Cam Cards?

Solid lifters are a type of valvetrain component that uses a solid metal pushrod to open and close the engine valves. In contrast, hydraulic lifters use hydraulic fluid to adjust the valve lash automatically.

On the other hand, a cam card is a document that comes with a camshaft that provides the specifications of the camshaft’s lift, duration, and timing events. It is an essential tool for engine builders because it ensures that the camshaft’s specifications match the engine’s valvetrain components.

The Importance of Proper Lifter Adjustment

Adjusting solid lifters is crucial because it affects the engine’s performance and reliability. A loose lifter can cause a ticking noise and decrease the engine’s power output, while a tight lifter can cause valve train wear and ultimately lead to engine damage.

Proper lifter adjustment ensures that the valvetrain components work in harmony, preventing excessive wear, and maximizing the engine’s power output.

How to Adjust Solid Lifters Without Cam Card

First of all, you have to gather the following tools to adjust solid lifters:

  • Feeler gauge set
  • Wrench or socket set
  • Torque wrench
  • Screwdriver
  • Ratchet
  • Breaker bar

Steps for Adjusting Solid Lifters Without a Cam Card

Now that you have the tools required let’s dive into the step-by-step process of adjusting solid lifters without a cam card:

Locate Top Dead Center (TDC)

The first step in adjusting solid lifters is to locate TDC, where the piston is at the top of the compression stroke. You can do this by using a timing light or removing the spark plug and using a piston stop tool.

Determine Valve Clearance

With the engine at TDC, use a feeler gauge to measure the valve clearance. Valve clearance is the gap between the rocker arm and the top of the valve stem.

Loosen the Locking Nut

Use a wrench or socket set to loosen the locking nut on the rocker’s arm.

Adjust the Lifter Screw

Using a screwdriver, turn the lifter screw clockwise to decrease the gap or counterclockwise to increase the gap.

Recheck the Valve Clearance

Use a feeler gauge to recheck the valve clearance after adjusting the lifter screw. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the valve clearance is within the manufacturer’s recommended range.

Tighten the Locking Nut

Once the valve clearance is within the recommended range, use a torque wrench to tighten the locking nut to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Repeat for all Lifters

Repeat the above steps for all the solid lifters in the engine.

Tips and Tricks for Adjusting Solid Lifters

Here are some additional tips and tricks for adjusting solid lifters:

  1. Use a breaker bar to turn the engine over manually, especially if you’re working on an engine that doesn’t run or is difficult to start.
  2. Always refer to the manufacturer’s specifications for the correct valve clearance and torque specifications for the locking nut.
  3. Use a magnetic tray to keep the small parts, such as locking nuts and lifter screws, organized and prevent them from getting lost.
  4. Double-check your work to ensure that the valve clearance is correct before starting the engine.


Adjusting solid lifters without a cam card may seem daunting at first, but if have a proper guide about how to adjust solid lifters without cam card, it is a straightforward process. The key is to take your time, double-check your work, and refer to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Properly adjusted solid lifters can help maximize your engine’s power output and ensure its longevity. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can adjust your engine’s solid lifters with confidence, even without a cam card.

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