How to Set Valve Lash SBC and Its Importance

To set valve lash on an sbc, turn the engine to top dead center and adjust each valve according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Valve lash is easy to set with basic mechanical knowledge and the proper tools.

The proper operation of car engines is essential for performance and longevity. One of the critical areas to maintain is the valve lash of an engine. Valve lash is the clearance between the rocker arm and valve stems when the piston is at top dead center.

Too little or too much clearance can reduce an engine’s performance and life span. If you own a small block chevrolet (sbc) engine, knowing how to set valve lash is essential. This article aims to provide easy-to-follow instructions for adjusting valve lash on your sbc engine, ensuring its proper functioning. So, without further ado, let’s dive into the topic.

Understanding Valve Lash and Its Importance


What Is Valve Lash?

Valve lash refers to the clearance within the valve train of an engine. This is the gap between the rocker arm and the valve stem when the lifter is at the bottom of its rotating cycle. Maintaining proper valve lash within the small block chevy (sbc) is important as it directly impacts the engine’s performance.

If valve lash is too low, the engine will not perform at its optimal level. If the valve lash is too high, it can cause excessive wear or damage to engine components. Setting valve lash on sbc ensures that the engine performs at its best.

It involves measuring and adjusting the clearance between the rocker arm and valve stem. Properly setting valve lash should be incorporated within the regular maintenance schedule of an sbc engine.

Understanding Sbc Engines

Sbc (small block chevy) engines are an iconic line of engines in the automotive world, renowned for their durability and versatility. These engines are made up of several vital components, including the camshaft, lifters, pushrods, rocker arms, and valves. Valve lash plays a critical role in the performance of sbc engines, as it directly impacts the engine’s power and efficiency.

Setting the correct valve lash is necessary for optimum engine performance and can be done quickly and easily with the proper tools and technique. Understanding the nuances of sbc engines and the valve lash adjustment process can make a world of difference in the engine’s lifespan and performance.

🤔 Why Valve Clearances are VERY IMPORTANT 🤔 Tight Valves VS LOOSE Valves ticking

Required Tools

Setting the valve lash on your sbc engine can seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools, it’s a straightforward process. You will need a set of feeler gauges to measure clearance, combination wrenches and a socket set to tighten the adjuster nuts and screws, and flathead screwdrivers to hold the rocker arms in place.

Don’t forget to have some adhesive on hand to ensure the adjustment screws don’t back out on their own. By following these tips and ensuring the valve lash is within specifications, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your engine is running at its best.

Importance Of Having The Right Tools

Having the right tools is crucial when setting valve lash in your sbc. Using the wrong tools can negatively impact the valve adjustment, leading to engine damage. And while investing in high-quality tools may seem costly, it’s worth it in the long run as they ensure a precise and accurate valve lash setting.

Lower quality tools, on the other hand, may not fit properly or may wear down quickly, compromising the accuracy of the valve adjustment. So, if you’re planning on setting your sbc’s valve lash, invest in the right tools to ensure your engine stays healthy and runs smoothly.

Prepping The Engine

Disconnect the battery to avoid electric shock. Turn off the engine, ensuring it’s cool to the touch. Use your preferred tool to remove the valve covers. Ensure the rocker arms are on the base circle of the camshaft. Apply grease to the lifter face to prevent damage.

Measuring The Valve Lash

Valve lash is a critical element of engine performance for the small block chevy engine. The valve lash controls the timing between the valve and the camshaft, which can affect power, engine longevity, and fuel economy. To measure the valve lash, you will need to check the specifications in your repair manual.

Use a feeler gauge to measure the gap between the valve and the camshaft, and then adjust the rocker arm until the gap is within the acceptable range. Proper valve lash adjustment is crucial for engine performance, and it should be checked regularly.

With some practice, anyone can learn how to set valve lash on their small block chevy engine.

Adjusting The Valve Lash

Valve lash adjustment is crucial for improving an engine’s performance. Method 1 involves an adjustable valvetrain and is recommended for high-performance engines. With the engine at operating temperature, adjust the rocker arm until there is no slack in the pushrod and the valve is fully compressed.

Then, rotate the screw to set the valve lash. Method 2 involves using shims and is ideal for standard engines. Remove the valve cover and cylinder head, then place a feeler gauge between the rocker arm and the valve stem.

Add or subtract shims to reach the ideal clearance. Regardless of the method you use, it’s important to take your time and be precise. A poorly adjusted valve lash can lead to decreased performance and even engine damage.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

Valve lash adjustment is an important aspect in any engine’s performance. Over-tightening or under-tightening the valves can cause significant engine damage; therefore, it is crucial to ensure that the valve lash is set correctly. One of the common mistakes to avoid is the improper installation of the valve cover.

This mistake could lead to leaks and cause oil to spill, which can contaminate other engine components. To set the valve lash on your sbc, ensure that you have the right tools, follow the correct procedure, and adhere to the manufacturer’s specifications.

Remember to double-check the torque values and the sequence when tightening the valve cover bolts. By taking these precautions, you can avoid costly engine failures and improve the performance of your sbc.

Best Practices For Getting It Right

Valve lash adjustment is mandatory for any engine, and sbc engine owners need to have accurate knowledge about the process. Taking your time is of the essence, as doing it too quickly may result in inaccuracies. Understanding the specifications is critical before you start, as any mistakes could lead to serious engine damage.

Finally, double-checking your work is vital in ensuring your engine performs optimally. Don’t rush the process, ensure that you have all the necessary tools, and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to the letter. Taking your time pays off in the end.

So, invest some time in learning and practicing the process, and you’ll ensure that your sbc engine runs smoothly and lasts for a long time.


Properly setting valve lash is essential in maintaining the performance and longevity of an engine. Neglecting this process can lead to engine failure, increase in fuel consumption, and reduced power output. Understanding and following the right procedure for setting valve lash, as demonstrated in this article, will help ensure that your small block chevy engine performs to its fullest capacity.

This process requires attention to detail, patience, and proper tools. A well-set valve lash will ensure smooth operation and longevity of your engine, giving you confidence on the road or track. So, make sure to follow the guidelines outlined in this article and enjoy the full potential of your small block chevy engine.