Had no intention to respond, because I don't have the answer, but I feel
your pain, sitting there with a torn-down engine, and pondering how to
proceed. So I am chiming in with at least something to help you elicit a
response from those in the know:
Guess you mean pushrods, as the hydraulic tappets (usually referred to as
'lifters') have a very clear orientation: one side rides the camshaft; the
other engages the pushrod. Having said that, in the only 3.8L that I own
(the older, longitudinally mounted version), these are perfectly
symmetrical, and I can't recall any hole on their side. So I suggest you
provide the type and model year of the vehicle. And perhaps a link to a
location where you would post a photograph of the part in question.
Always good strategy, by the way...
My Haynes and the on-line Autozone don't specify a direction, so it
shouldn't matter. However, they both say to put the lifters back in the
same bore they came out of, unless you're replacing the cam or lifters
with new, then it doesn't matter.
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