The national average cost for a camshaft seal replacement in 2023 is $163

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National average cost of a Camshaft Seal Replacement
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What is a camshaft seal and how does it work?

A camshaft seal is a component of the valvetrain in your engine. It provides a seal around the end of the camshaft to prevent oil from leaking out. The camshaft in an engine serves to open and close all of the intake and exhaust valves that allow air and fuel to enter the combustion chambers and exhaust gases to escape. Most modern engines position the camshaft(s) at the top, inside of the cylinder head(s). An engine can have anywhere from one to four camshafts that actuate as many as thirty two valves. And all of those components rely on engine oil for lubrication. But a camshaft is driven to rotate by the timing belt or timing chain. In order for that to happen, the camshaft must protrude through the front wall of the cylinder head (or engine block, in the case of some older engines) to the compartment where the timing belt or chain is located. The camshaft seal is what keeps engine oil inside the cylinder head.

How do I know if my vehicle needs a new camshaft seal?

The camshaft seal fulfills one purpose, to prevent oil from leaking from the cylinder head around the camshaft. If oil escapes through the camshaft seal, it needs to be replaced. If an oil leak from the camshaft seal is significant, you might notice a puddle of oil on the ground beneath the front of your engine (the passenger side in most front-wheel-drive vehicles). You might also notice oil leaking from the bottom of the timing cover near the serpentine drive belt on your engine, but only if your engine has a timing belt. That is because the timing cover on an engine with a timing chain is sealed as well. Therefore, a leak from the camshaft seal would not be evident from the timing cover. In fact, an engine with a timing chain might not even have a camshaft seal.

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How is this service performed

How is a Camshaft Seal Replacement done?

One of the reasons that a camshaft seal is usually replaced along with the timing belt and other timing components is because it is a labor intensive procedure that requires a good deal of tools and training. To replace the camshaft seal, a technician needs to gain access to the 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 seal 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 belt cover
  • Remove the valve cover(s)
  • Unbolt and remove the timing cover from the front of the engine
  • Synchronize the timing marks on the camshaft and crankshaft pulleys and align to top dead center
  • Remove the timing belt tensioner pulley (s)
  • Dislodge the timing belt (or chain)
  • Remove the camshaft pulley (or sprocket)
  • Pull the camshaft seal from the cylinder head and press in a new one
  • Install the new belt, taking care to align to the timing marks
  • Install the timing belt tensioner pulleys and set belt tension
  • Reinstall all components and add fluids as necessary This abbreviated list of steps does not account for differences between engines, whether your has single or dual camshafts, the style of tensioners used, and other variables. It is common to replace not only the camshaft seal, but also the timing belt, tensioners, and even the pulleys on which the timing belt rides. If your engine has a water pump that is driven by the timing belt, that too will be recommended for replacement. The procedure is similar if your engine has a timing chain rather than a belt. If the procedure is not done properly, your engine could fail to run, run poorly, or suffer severe internal damage.

OTHER QUESTIONS CUSTOMERS ASK

How do you put a camshaft seal in?
To install a camshaft seal, the old seal must first be pulled from the cylinder head. A technician then presses the new seal into place, taking care to avoid damage to the new seal and the mounting surface of the cylinder head. But that is only part of the job. In order to access the camshaft seal, many other components must be removed, including sensitive timing elements, such as the timing belt, tensioner, and more.
Can you drive with a leaking camshaft seal?
You should not drive a vehicle for very long if the camshaft seal is leaking. Not only will your engine lose oil, but damage to the timing belt and other timing components can result. And if the timing belt fails, your engine could suffer major damage. A leaking camshaft seal can even lead to an engine fire in some circumstances.
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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