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Kohler question


LawnSite Bronze Member
Southern Indiana
Need your opinions on a ongoing intermitten "ticking" from my Kohler 23 hp motor. Im sure its a lifter and it comes and goes. Motor has about 1000 hrs on it. Gets better after I change oil but a few hours, here comes that ticking again. I only use "Kohler Command SAE 10w 30. Should I use different oil? never adjusted lifters, could that help, not sure if there is adjustable (hydroulic lifters). Hate to onen her up the replace liters if change of oil and/or adjusting helps.


LawnSite Bronze Member
Cape Cod, MA
Sorry, I have Kawi instead if Kohler. Not that this will help you, but when I was comparing motors my dealer told me he alwasy stocks Kohler. I asked why and he said because of failure he replaces many more than Kawi. I also heard about ticking sounds with a Kohler. Thats was my final deciding factor to go with Kawi. Again sorry I can not help you.

Mark P

LawnSite Senior Member
:) pjslawncare im sure its a lifter, it prob-is,just needs adjusting, glad to here you run the Kohler 10/30 oil, it has special basestocks and elevated additive concentrates to provide much better performance than auto oil, I know alot of guys who get over 3000hrs on them ticking Kohlers, they make a great engine,just put in your earplugs in and mow n go, or check out the speck's and adjust it, I think Eric Elm had over 3000hrs on his 23hp kohler dixie..........Marks Mowing Service


LawnSite Gold Member
when i 1st joined here there was a thread about kohlers and ticking, there was a kit that kohler would send to you to replace something to elimante the ticking, Im not sure if im much help to ya, maybe some one else remembers this also

Joel B.

LawnSite Senior Member
I get the intermittent ticking too on my Kohler. I also have a 23hp with about 200 hours on it. I asked the dealer about it and he said old/bad oil can cause the ticking. He said to change the oil often.........every 25 hours or so.

The manual says the noise is normal on start up if the motor has been sitting a while. The motor will tick for a while until the lifters "prime".

Makes me worry if the motor is getting enough oil.

Any other opinions out there?

Joel B.


LawnSite Senior Member
2 of my dixie choppers do the same thing. ones a 22hp and the other a 23. they only tick once in a while. i've pretty much learned to ignore it since i maintain them both well.


LawnSite Senior Member
N.E. Ohio
I have a 20hp Kohler Command on a 54" Bobcat. Got the ticking, too!

I just got it back from the dealer and they say its typical of Kohler. Lifters checked O.K. when he looked at it. Mine comes and goes, but it's at its worst on start up.



LawnSite Member
I have a 25 hp kohler on my dixie flat lander with approx. 1300 hrs. The lifters on both cylinders started clicking this year at the peak of summer heat. On my engine the clicking starts at high heat. If I let the engine idle for 5-10 minutes it will go away until I start mowing again.

I installed new lifters. Did not fix

Changed oil over and over. Did not fix

What I have learned is that this is an inherent problem with some kohler engines. My dealer supplied me with the service bulletin regarding this problem and I can tell by reading it that it will not fix the problem on my engine. The dealer says the lifters are sucking in some air and therfore not maintaing 0 gap. These are hydraulic lifters, there is no adjustment.

I asked the dealer why this problem is showing up now and why it is only when hot. His explanation is that with the heat expansinon is taking place and allowing some air into the lifters.

He suggested that I remove the lifters and sand (180-200 grit) a very very slight flat spot on the side of the lifter ( down the length) in order to let some air escape.

My feelings are that by doing that I stand the chance of decreasing oil pressure. I would rather listen to the lifters than burn up some bearings.

If you have ever been around an aircooled Volkswagen, you'll know that all you can here is lifter / valve clatter. That noise on the kohler will probably go forever and not cause any problems. As irritating as it it may be I am going to live with the noise for another 1000 hours.