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If they are way out of specs you might hear the loud ticking/knocking of the tappets on the cam lobes and the idle may not be as smooth as it should be. Of course the only way to be sure is to check the clearance between tappet and cam.
 

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noisy tappets
if valves don't seat properly then there can be a loss of compression, backfiring, frontfiring.
in extreme cases valves can hit pistons and spark plugs.
Like Msiert said, its a simple check and should be done every 12 months.
 
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