How To Prevent AFM Lifter Failure – Tried and Tested Tricks

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How to prevent AFM lifter failure involves simple tasks, such as using high-quality engine oil and ensuring it’s always at the right level, changing the oil on time, and servicing the car regularly to minimize regular components’ wear. You can also prevent the lifter from collapsing by using an AFM disabler. How To Prevent AFM Lifter Failure Let’s discuss the details below, including how to spot a failing AFM lifter so you can act before things get out of hand. We will also answer a few frequently asked questions to ensure you’re fully informed on this topic.

How To Keep the AFM Lifter From Failing?

To keep the AFM lifter from failing, change your engine oil on time and ensure it’s always at the correct level. Use high-quality motor oil and service the vehicle regularly to minimize wear and tear. You can also prevent AFM failure by disabling it using an OBD2 plug-and-play device. For those wondering, “What is an AFM lifter?”, it’s a fuel management system that regulates the engine’s cylinders’ power to ensure improved fuel efficiency. In other words, AFM stands for Active Fuel Management. The AFM works by shutting down half of the engine cylinders, causing your vehicle to run at reduced power and low fuel mileage in light load and favorable driving conditions. According to studies, AFM improves fuel efficiency by up to 7 percent, which translates to 65 gallons per year. Unfortunately, like any other engine component, the AFM system can fail. If that happens, you’ll likely encounter several problems, including stalling without warning, accelerating power loss, and sometimes severe engine damage. What causes AFM lifter failure? The most common triggers are low engine oil pressure, using poor quality oil, and general wear and tear. As mentioned, addressing these triggers is the best way to prevent the system from failing.
  • Check Engine Oil Level Often

One way to prevent AFM lifter failure is to avoid low engine oil pressure or no-oil situation. Check your oil level on a regular basis and add more oil whenever necessary. The AFM’s components require sufficient lubrication to perform optimally. Check Engine Oil Level Low oil levels can cause increased friction on the components, leading to premature wear.
  • Use Quality Engine Oil

Engine oil costs usually vary, depending on quality. High-quality oils are expensive. Some people go for the cheapest oil, which is low quality, to save a few bucks. Unfortunately, a low-quality lubricant contains more impurities and breaks down faster, turning into sludge.
Sludge is harmful to your engine. As we know, engine oil helps lubricate the various moving parts, but sludge doesn’t do that well. Using bad-quality lubricant for a long time ends badly. The active fuel management lifters collapse, and you may require to replace multiple engine components. Therefore, you must avoid cheap oils because they are expensive in the long run. But that doesn’t mean you spend a fortune to get the most expensive oil. Only ensure you buy your car’s manufacturer’s recommended oil. Please consult your owner’s manual to know the best-suited oil for your engine.
  • Change Oil on Time

A timely oil change is as significant as using the correct engine oil. As mentioned, sludge isn’t good for your engine. Even the high-quality lubricant will turn into sludge eventually. Change it before it’s too late. Be aware of your vehicle’s oil life monitoring system and act as soon as the “Oil Change Due” warning light (oil pressure light) illuminates your dashboard. Changing Car Oil on Time It also helps to occasionally check the oil life remaining or oil life percentage through your instrument cluster. Alternatively, you can regularly check the condition of the oil manually using the dipstick. Engine oil that has turned from dark amber to black could indicate that it’s old and needs replacement. Old oil also has a thick consistency (sludge). You can prevent many issues with your Chevy AFM lifter by staying on top of oil changes.
  • Service the Car Regularly

With regular use of the car, various components undergo wear and tear over time. That includes the active fuel management lifters because they are a part of the engine that must function regularly. If the wearing down of components isn’t taken care of on time, it leads to expensive damage and complete failure of systems. Thus, regularly servicing your car is one of the best ways to slow the inevitable deterioration. It will help identify developing issues at the early stages and fix them before they grow into costly repairs.
  • Consider Disabling the AFM System

One quick and effective way to prevent GM AFM failure is to disable the system. That means your vehicle will operate in full-cylinder mode throughout. You can significantly reduce the chance of failure when the system doesn’t work as frequently. Deactivating the AFM will also minimize regular wear and tear and increase the system’s life. You’ll also enjoy reduced oil consumption, which means changing the engine oil less often. Disabling AFM can be done in two ways. One is to install an AFM delete kit, and the other involves using an AFM disabler (an electronic device). The former replaces the AFM parts with standard components (e.g., non-AFM camshaft). It is ideal when carrying out performance upgrades or when the AFM fails. The latter is the easiest option. The device is user-friendly (plug-and-play), meaning you can activate or deactivate the AFM as and when needed. You can buy this device online and plug it into the vehicle’s OBD2 port. When you need to activate the system, you only need to unplug the device from the port, and everything returns to the previous state. Note that you should only use a disabler if your engine’s valve train (a system that controls the function of the intake and exhaust valves) is working correctly, especially if you have a high-RPM engine. Otherwise, the engine will suffer oil-burning issues. Some have asked how to disable AFM for free. You may need to reprogram the ECM (engine control module), which is unreliable and can cause more harm than good.

How To Know if Your Vehicle’s AFM Is Malfunctioning?

To know if your vehicle’s AFM is malfunctioning, pay attention to the common 5.3 AFM lifter failure symptoms. These include difficulty shifting gears, loss of engine power, and jerking or hesitating when accelerating. Failing AFM systems will also likely cause sudden engine stalls and unusual noises from the engine. A malfunctioning AFM lifter can severely impact your vehicle’s health. It’s, therefore, essential to identify the failure in its early stages. See more details on “how to tell if a AFM lifter is bad” below:
  • Difficulty Shifting Gears

A failing AFM lifter can ruin your gear-shifting experience. It may cause stiffness when trying to change gears or difficulty downshifting. Difficulty Shifting Gears If this problem is left unchecked, it can develop, damaging your clutch and flywheel or the entire transmission system. Thus, immediately take your car to a specialist if you notice issues with your gear shifting.
  • Accelerating Problems

A bad AFM lifter can trigger several accelerating issues in your car. One common problem is low power. You may notice that your car struggles to accelerate and hit the speed you want. Many factors can cause an engine to lose power, but you shouldn’t rule out the possibility of the lifter malfunction. Another common symptom of a bad AFM is jerking during acceleration without warning, which can be a significant road hazard. Also, you may notice that the engine hesitates when you try to accelerate. The symptoms could also indicate other engine malfunctions, such as a faulty mass airflow sensor. A reliable professional can diagnose and repair the problem before it progresses to an unmanageable level.
  • Engine Stalls Suddenly

Nothing can be more annoying than an engine stalling suddenly in the middle of a road, which can happen if your AFM lifter fails. The worst part of the problem is that it doesn’t give any warning, meaning it can occur anytime. Sudden stalls can lead to severe accidents, especially on a busy road. So, if you experience a sudden stall while driving and can’t explain it, an AFM lifter could be the culprit.
  • An Unusual Engine Noises

You may notice strange noises from the engine compartment, ranging from ticking, squeaking, or flitting sounds. These noises may be accompanied by a check engine light or any damage indicator. Sometimes, engine misfire trouble codes could be saved on the onboard computer. It would be best if you didn’t ignore any unexplainable noises coming from your car’s engine. Unusual Engine Noises Sometimes you may need to replace your AFM lifter, which doesn’t come cheap. On average, the cost ranges from $300 (parts and labor) to $1000+, depending on the extent of the work. Other times, the lifter may get stuck. So, if you want to know how to unstick a AFM lifter, there’s one way to get it out. Use vice grips together with a small pry bar or slide hammer. If it doesn’t come out, you must replace the engine.

Frequently Asked Questions

– How Can You Tell if There’s AFM in Your GM Vehicle?

You can tell if there’s AFM in your GM vehicle by looking for an AFM light on your dashboard or a readout below the tachometer. You can also find the information on your owner’s manual or check if the engine’s valley cover is labeled AFM.

– Is Vibration an Indicator of AFM Failure?

No, vibration is not an indicator of AFM failure. A negligible vibration in the steering wheel or accelerator pedal is normal in vehicles equipped with AFM. No repairs are needed unless you notice system failure signs, such as poor acceleration, jerking, and sudden stalls while driving.

– Can a Bad AFM Lifter Cause a Misfire?

Yes, a bad AFM lifter can cause a misfire due to low compression on the particular cylinder during an AFM compression test. A mechanically collapsed lifter can also trigger consistent valvetrain tick noise and check engine (service engine soon) light with diagnostic trouble code P0300.

– How Long Do the AFM Lifters Last?

The AFM lifters last at least 70,000 miles. However, they can last an entire engine’s lifetime if you ensure routine maintenance. Avoid things that can cause the lifters to defect, such as dirty oil and oil filters and using low-quality motor oil.

What are the Symptoms of Bad Lifters in a Vehicle?

Symptoms of bad lifters in a vehicle can include a ticking or tapping noise coming from the engine, decreased power and performance, and increased fuel consumption. Engine misfires, rough idle, and even stalling may also occur. It’s crucial to promptly address these symptoms of bad lifters to prevent further engine damage and ensure smooth vehicle operation.


After reading our guide above, you’ve discovered how to prevent AFM lifter failure. We leave you with a summary:
  • The most effective methods to prevent your AFM lifter from failing include regular engine maintenance practices, such as timely oil changes.
  • You can also keep the AFM from malfunctioning by disabling it using an electronic device you install through the vehicle’s OBD2 port.
  • Common symptoms of a failing AFM lifter include decreasing accelerating power, engine jerking or hesitating when accelerating, and sudden stalls.
You now have the information to care for your engine and prevent the AFM system from untimely failure. So, use it well and remember to seek expert help as soon as you need it.
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