Camshaft Replacement Cost in 2023​

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POPULAR VEHICLES

National average cost of a a Camshaft Replacement
for popular vehicles:

Car Model

Avg. cost

$50

What is a camshaft and how does it work?

A camshaft is a long metal shaft with projections, or “lobes” protruding around it. The job of the camshaft is to open and close the intake and exhaust valves for each engine cylinder in a dedicated sequence.
The lobes of the camshaft are placed at specific locations along the shaft. When the camshaft rotates in unison with the crankshaft (tied together by the timing belt or chain), the lobes push the engine’s intake and exhaust valves open and closed in sequence. This process opens each intake valve to allow air and fuel into a combustion chamber at just the right time to be compressed by the piston. Once combustion is set off by the spark plug, the camshaft opens the exhaust valve to allow the gases created during combustion to escape.

The camshaft must be timed perfectly in relationship with the crankshaft, ensuring that all of the valves - as many as thirty-two - open and close when they should. In doing so, the camshaft allows your engine to run smoothly and to produce the right amount of power under various conditions.

While older engines often had only a single camshaft buried deep in the engine block, most modern engines have anywhere from one to four camshafts mounted at or near the top of the engine.

COMMON SYMPTOMS

How do I know if my vehicle needs a camshaft replaced?

Since the camshafts of a modern engine are mounted near the top of the engine block in the cylinder head, it is one of the last components to be lubricated with oil when the engine starts up. That is because the oil is housed in the oil pan at the bottom of your engine, and it needs to be pumped to the top by the oil pump. Because this is so, any problems with the flow of oil in the system can cause premature failure of the camshaft and related components.

When a camshaft fails, its lobes tend to wear down. And when that happens, the camshaft is no longer able to actuate the intake and exhaust valves properly. This condition can result in the following:

Loss of power upon acceleration

The engine shaking while it is running

A ticking noise coming from the top of the engine

A loud popping sound during acceleration or deceleration

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HOW IS THIS SERVICE PERFORMED?

How is a a Camshaft Replacement done?

Camshaft replacement is quite an involved procedure that requires a good deal of tools and training. To replace the camshaft on your vehicle, a technician needs to gain access to the top and front of the engine. This usually requires safely lifting and supporting the vehicle off of the ground, removing shields, guards, covers, ducts, and the serpentine drive belt. The radiator might also need to be removed, depending on the orientation of your engine.

With those items out of the way, a typical camshaft replacement (the procedure differs from one vehicle make and model to the next) involves the following general steps:



  • Remove the water pump (on some models)
  • Detach the drive pulley on the crankshaft
  • Remove any engine accessories (AC compressor, alternator, power steering pump, etc.) that are in the way of the timing cover
  • Remove the cam cover for the affected camshaft
  • Unbolt and remove the timing cover from the front of the engine
  • Remove tension from the timing chain or belt by temporarily disabling the tensioner and holding it off the chain or belt
  • Remove the timing chain or belt from the affected camshaft sprocket
  • Remove the camshaft sprocket
  • Unbolt the camshaft bearing caps that hold the camshaft in place
  • Remove the old camshaft and replace it with the new component
  • Reinstall the camshaft sprocket
  • Reinstall the timing chain or belt, taking care to align to the timing marks
  • Re-enable the timing chain/ belt tensioner
  • Reinstall all components and add fluids as necessary This abbreviated list of steps does not account for differences between engines, such as whether your engine has single or dual camshafts inside the cylinder head(s), or one central camshaft inside the engine block. It also does not take into account all engine configurations or orientations (i.e. transverse vs longitudinal). When a camshaft is replaced, it is common to replace the camshaft timing components such as the tensioner, timing chain or belt, and sprockets as well. If your engine has a water pump that is driven by the timing chain, that too will be recommended for replacement. If this procedure is not done properly, your engine could fail to run, run poorly, or suffer severe internal damage.

Other questions customers ask

Is it worth replacing a camshaft?
Repairing a worn or damaged camshaft is typically not an option, so replacement is often the best and only option if a camshaft has failed. But it might not be enough to replace only the camshaft. For example, if the camshaft failed due to inadequate oil pressure, your mechanic could recommend a new oil pump along with a new camshaft. And if the camshaft did indeed fail due to a lack of lubrication, components that work alongside and rub up against the camshaft may also need to be replaced as well. Items such as the lifters, roller followers, and even the cylinder head casting.
Do you have to remove the engine to replace the camshaft?
Whether or not the engine must be removed to replace the camshaft depends on the engine design, the orientation of the engine inside of the vehicle, as well as how much access a technician has to the engine while it is still inside the vehicle. Some engines have the camshaft mounted near the top, allowing simpler access without removing other parts. Other designs of engines have a central camshaft, located deep inside the engine block. The latter design is typically not accessible without either removing the engine from the vehicle or removing multiple parts from the vehicle. This can become extremely labor intensive.
Can I drive with a broken camshaft?
No, the engine should not even be started if it has a broken camshaft. If an engine with a broken camshaft is started or allowed to run for even a few seconds, other internal engine parts - the pistons, valves, or even another camshaft - can all suffer catastrophic (and costly) damage.

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