What is a Cam Phaser?

With so many working parts in the engine, it’s hard to keep track of everything that’s involved. However, when there’s a problem, you need to know what part is going bad. People often wonder what cam phaser means, how it affects their lives and how much they might need to be replaced.

We will be covering all these topics in this guide. This guide will explain how cam phases work, show you symptoms of problems and give an estimate for the replacement cost. 

Índice de Contenido
  1. What's a Cam Phaser?
  2. How do Cam Phasers work?
  3. Bad Cam Phaser Symptoms
    1. 1. Verify Engine Light
    2. 2. Lower Engine Performance
    3. 3. Rattling Noises
  4. Why does the Cam Phaser fail?
    1. 1. Low Oil Pressure
    2. 2. Worst Oil Viscosity
    3. 3. Contained Oil
    4. 4. Spocket/Gear Broken
    5. 5. ECU Not Working
  5. Can I Drive With a Bad Cam Phaser Safely?
  6. Cam Phaser Replacement Cost

What's a Cam Phaser?

Cam phasers are part of variable valve timing. If the cam phaser is damaged, the Check Engine Light will come on. You might notice a decreased engine performance or a rattling sound. You can replace your cam phaser for $750-$2,500, unless it is something you can do yourself. 

Today’s modern vehicles are equipped with variable valve timing systems. A key component of the VVT system is the cam phaser. It helps to increase efficiency, improve fuel economy, reduce emissions, and lower carbon dioxide. This computer-controlled cam shaft control sprocket is attached to the cam drive. 

For changing the position of the camshaft, cam phasers will be required. To ensure correct timing of the valves within the engine, it must be in line with the crankshaft. 

How do Cam Phasers work?

The main job of a cam phaser is to adjust the positioning of the engine’s camshaft. The cam phaser is part the VVT system and helps adjust the position of the camshaft to ensure optimal motor performance.

These phasers have hydraulic control and are computer controlled. One can be found at each end of the camshaft. Each of them is activated via the VVT solenoid. Also known as oil control solenoid. The cam phaser is subject to oil pressure from this solenoid. Each will have its own solenoid. 

You can find vehicles that have both an intake and exhaust phaser. You can also find models with only one phaser. The one-phaser may be on the intake or exhaust camshaft depending on your model. 

Cam phasers control the rotation of the camshaft. When necessary, this action opens and closes the valves. The phasers open the valves when the engine revs lower. This improves throttle response and performance. The valves will open at different times when the engine is revving higher to increase fuel economy and decrease harmful emissions. 

RELATED : 5 Signs That Your Oil Control Valve Is Not Working (VVT Solenoid).

Bad Cam Phaser Symptoms

1. Verify Engine Light

When something goes wrong, the car computer will notify you. Camshaft position is monitored by sensors thanks to the powertrain controller module (PCM). 

If the module gets a poor reading from the sensors, it’s going to turn on the Check Engine Light. While this positioning problem could be the result of something else, it’s commonly an issue with the cam phaser. You should be able pinpoint the problem by using the professional scanner to read the diagnostic trouble codes. 

2. Lower Engine Performance

Optimizing the timing of valves is crucial to make sure that your engine performs as designed. If the cam phaser isn’t operating correctly, the timing is going to be retarded or advanced. 

Performance issues can result from either one of these conditions. It might have trouble with acceleration or rough idle, as well as problems getting the engine to produce all it is capable of. 

3. Rattling Noises

When the engine idles, it should be able to lock into position. If the cam phaser fails, however, it may not lock in place.

The result will be a knocking, rattling sound. It should be heard coming from the motor's top. It’s easier to hear when the engine is idling or after it has been warmed up. 

READ MORE: 7 Engine Noises You Should Not Ignore (& What They Mean)

Why does the Cam Phaser fail?

1. Low Oil Pressure

Each cam phaser requires the right oil pressure to give it power. Cam phasers will fail if there is not enough oil pressure.

Your vehicle's oil pressure could be low due to a poor oil quality, or an inefficient oil pump. Low oil pressure could cause wear to the phasers, which are made of metal and need lubrication. 

2. Worst Oil Viscosity

For proper friction and lubrication you need to use the appropriate oil viscosity. An engine runs at extremely high temperatures so a poor oil viscosity could cause severe wear. 

You can also make sure that the oil is properly lubricated. The cam phasers won't respond as fast and could be damaged. 

RELATED: 0w20 vs. 5w20 vs. 5w30 – Oil Viscosity Explained

3. Contained Oil

Oil becomes more contaminated as it ages. This causes a decrease in the oil flow and affects cam phasers' well-being. 

That’s why you should always change the oil at appropriate intervals. If you are using synthetic oil, you won’t need to change it as frequently as you would conventional oil. Don’t forget to change the oil filter at the same time to ensure the fluid remains fresh. 

4. Spocket/Gear Broken

The motor oil is also used to grease the gears. Too much friction can cause damage to the cam phaser and other valuable parts.

You can add friction modifiers to your oil for better lubrication. However, today’s top oil manufacturers provide everything needed to keep the engine running smoothly. 

5. ECU Not Working

Cam phaser control is done by the ECU. The computer could be unable to do its job due to a fault.

These ECU issues can be quickly identified using the most advanced code scanner. You can make sure that your phasers work as they should by fixing it. 

Can I Drive With a Bad Cam Phaser Safely?

If you know that the cam phaser is worn out, you don’t want to keep driving your car. Driving your vehicle is risky, even though it runs normally. A bad phaser can do more damage to your motor, ECU, exhaust valves or VCT, or solenoids. If you put off repairs, it could lead to a higher bill in the future. 

It is possible to lose your power while driving. This could lead to an accident or put you and others in danger. There’s no reason to expose others to hazardous conditions when you can have the vehicle fixed. 

Cam Phaser Replacement Cost

Cam phaser replacements can cost anywhere from $750 up to $2,500 on average. This isn’t a simple job and one that most novices will not tackle on their own. The cost of repairs will vary depending on the vehicle and the location. 

You can make the repairs yourself and save money. However, if you aren’t sure what you are doing or you don’t have the right tools, you could create more damage than needed. For this type of advanced repair, you should trust professionals.

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