When I took my cylinder heads apart, I wasn't aware of the need to keep track of the order of valve lifters so I didn't. I did, however, separate the left from right side of the engine (V6 Tacoma). So I have two sets of 12 lifters each that I need to redistribute in their old/new places. Ideally, they would each go in the exact same old place it was before but I think that matters less considering that I lapped my valves, which would introduce irregularities so the gaps would vary, making it unlikely that the old order will now fit.

One thing that may be helpful is that each of my lifters has a size inscribed inside it (the one in the picture is 39, can't be seen very well).

enter image description here

Here is the distribution of sizes on the left side of my engine:

  • 39 x 3
  • 46 x 2
  • 38 x 2
  • 45 x 1
  • 43 x 1
  • 41 x 1
  • 40 x 1
  • 37 x 1

So I don't know where each one from before went nor have I been able to find a factory diagram on the interwebs. For the purposes of measuring the lash between the valve stem and the cam, I understand I need a lifter in place as a point of relative measurement for the sake of finding and being replaced by another lifter that ultimately fits the size. So, my question is, considering that I don't have the original order, how can I determine what a good initial distribution of these would be? Or does it matter because the lash is everywhere bigger than every one of these lifter sizes and I can just initially set them randomly?

I understand, according to my Haynes manual, the lifters have to be on the valves in some initial order and the camshafts and the timing chain need to be on. The manual says put piston 1 [I think the right side, the one closest to the front (radiator)] in TDC, then measure 8 specific valves (manual has a diagram which ones), then spin the crank 2/3 turn and do the same for another specific set of 8, then repeat one more time. I will also need to use a micrometer to remeasure the actual thickness of each lifter because it may have varied over time from what it says it is on it.

  • In your usage, these ride directly between the cam and the valve tip, is that correct? Aug 9, 2015 at 18:51
  • @Paulster2, yes. they are like valve-cam spacers but the clearance is apparently different on every one so it needs to be measured
    – amphibient
    Aug 9, 2015 at 19:56
  • I keep sounding like a neigh-sayer with you, but am afraid you may have an issue. When dealing with Over Head Valve (or pushrod engines) with flat tappet cams, lifters and cams get what is called sympathetic wear. This means the cam and lifters sort of like each other or get used to each other. When you swap them interchangeably, they self destruct. I'm worried you may have the same issue here, regardless of the height differential. I don't know for sure, so will leave it up to someone who has done more work with OHC engines. Aug 9, 2015 at 20:51
  • When I say "self destruct", I'm saying they wear each other (cam/lifters) out very quickly if not mated back with their appropriate other. Aug 9, 2015 at 20:53
  • 1
    @amphibient Based on your other questions I believe you adopted a methodology to help solve this. It would be a good idea to jot it down as an answer, even if you felt it was flawed (as long as the shortcomings are highlighted). Thanks.
    – Zaid
    Jan 5, 2016 at 7:08

2 Answers 2


You would need to start by just guessing and reassembling the head with the valve train and all components.

Once complete you would need to measure all of the clearances and document it. From there you would need to begin to remove the cams and shuffle the buckets based upon your documentation and best guess, reassemble and measure again.

You will have to wash, rinse, repeat this method until you have it nailed.

It's a rough answer but the only thing I can think of doing.


I will say that I've never run into the problem. This is the first thing that came into my head and honestly hope there is a better method. What I proposed with a wash, rinse, repeat method is a real grind. I think it could be somewhat successful but you would probably have, at least some, of the buckets not in their corresponding holes. That said, there's a rumor you have a method. Would love to hear it.

  • I believe @amphibient has indicated in other questions what approach he went with. Best to ask him what he finally ended up doing
    – Zaid
    Jan 5, 2016 at 7:06

Necroposting: I agree that you should probably used the workshop-recommended method.

Measure each shim (without bucket) with a micrometer. Write down the thickness. (there should be a number on the back, but I don't see that on omst of them).

Write down the thickness of each, and install the shims in the buckets, then install the cams. Removing and installing the cams is a difficult practice, and can even damage the head, so that process must be minimized. If the cams are removed and reinstalled, lash can change.

So you need to get the special valve adjustment tools Toyota recommends (they're less than $40 on amazon), and use those to pop the shims out of valves that are out of spec. (.007 intake, .011 exhaust - ideal settings for 3SFE engine). Pop the shim out and swap it with one that fits and takes up the additional gap (if it's too loose), or less of it, if too high.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .