If your camshaft is going out, you’re probably having issues with engine timing, exhaust, and power.
Fixing that often means replacing one or more of the camshafts and possibly the bearings as well. Doing so can save your engine.
However, the average cost of replacing a camshaft is $2,000-$3,000. That includes $45-$800 in parts and the rest is labor. That’s because replacing a camshaft means tearing the engine down, installing the cam, and then resetting the timing. That will cost you 6-8 hours of your mechanic’s time.
The table below shows a quick price comparison of camshaft replacement cost estimates from reputable suppliers:
How Much Does Camshaft Replacement Cost?*
The largest cost factor in replacing a camshaft is labor. That also varies significantly by vehicle make and model.
For example, some engines have an in-block camshaft, meaning you absolutely have to pull the engine. Others have overhead camshaft configurations with multiple camshafts. These can be more complex.
Finally, you’ll almost always want to pull the engine for timing the engine. And, timing the engine is a big job on its own.
However, it varies significantly per vehicle.
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*Note: Prices are estimates and were correct at the time of writing (June 2022). Cost estimates may have changed since, our figures should be used as a starting point for your own research.Please select a valid form
Camshaft Replacement Price Factors
There are several price factors that could impact the total cost of your job. Here, the largest is labor.
However, there are other factors as well.
Normally, camshafts fail because of issues with other parts. That might be the bearings, lubrication issues, improper torquing, etc. However, it’s almost always because something else is wrong.
Finding that issue and resolving it is important if you want to prevent the same issue from happening again.
For this reason, most mechanics will replace the bearings around the camshafts at the same time. And, if you have any other obviously damaged or worn parts, it’s a good idea to replace those too.
Dropping the Engine
In most cases, dropping the engine will significantly reduce the amount of work required to install the camshaft(s) and retime the engine. In some engines, you won’t be able to replace the camshafts without dropping the engine.
In others, you can do so by removing the oil pan, jacking the engine up, and replacing it from there. However, timing the engine will take a significant amount of time this way. Therefore, you should always factor in dropping the engine.
Number of Camshafts
Most modern engines have 1-8 camshafts, with 2, or one intake camshaft and one exhaust camshaft, being the most common. If you own a Ford or a Dodge V8, you can even buy camshafts in sets.
However, it likely won’t be necessary to replace all of the camshafts in your engine. Instead, you should assess which are damaged and replace just those camshafts.
Of course, replacing the bearings on the other camshafts while they are out may be a good idea.
If you do have to replace all of the camshafts in the engine, it will increase the cost by the price of the camshaft plus about an hour of extra work.
So, it is a lot cheaper to replace everything at once than to come along and tear the engine out again later.
At the same time, that replacement may not be necessary.
Cost of Parts
Camshafts vary significantly in cost, with brands running from about $30 to well over $1,000. These costs depend on the brand, the manufacturer, and whether the part is a budget part or a performance once.
Here, performance parts are designed for peak engine performance. You probably don’t need them unless you have a performance car.
On the other hand, Original Equipment Manufacturer camshafts will normally cost $200-$1,000 depending on the manufacturer. However, some luxury brands will charge more.
Aftermarket parts can be significantly cheaper and are usually the way to go if you’re replacing camshafts in an older car.
However, you’ll have to discuss options with your mechanic, and you won’t be able to have aftermarket parts installed at a dealership.Please select a valid form
4 Signs & Symptoms of a Bad Camshaft
If your camshaft goes out, your engine may refuse to respond. In addition, you might see issues with the exhaust, but you won’t likely notice that unless you have an emissions check done.
Otherwise, you can look for these four symptoms of a bad or broken camshaft.
1. Misfiring Cylinders
Camshafts time the intake and the exhaust to the cylinders – so that the fuel/air mixture enters the engine at the right time and the exhaust leaves at the right time.
When that timing is off, your engine starts having issues. Too much air or too much fuel results in misfiring, or stutters in your engine’s rumble.
When that happens, it almost always means there’s an issue with the fuel intake or combustion. But, that can mean the camshafts are bad.
2. Loud Noises or Tapping
If your camshaft bearings are worn, the camshafts are out of position, or the lubrication is gone, you’ll hear loud knocking, ticking, and tapping sounds from the engine.
These normally sound like metal on metal, or as if someone were loudly hitting a spoon on an aluminum sign.
Even if it’s not your camshaft, ticking noises from the engine are always a reason to have the full engine inspected.
3. Metal in Engine Oil
If your engine oil is metallic and has a sheen to it or if you see actual metal shards in your oil, it’s a good sign the camshaft or the crankshaft is going out.
These shards normally only happen when parts inside the hydro lock start grinding up against each other – and that means something in the engine.
Normally, this means you’ll have to pull the engine or drop the oil pan to check the bearings, the shafts, etc.
4. Car Refusing to Start
If your camshaft is completely out or not aligning the intake properly, your car simply won’t start.
Similarly, it can actually stall while driving, simply because the intake isn’t timing well enough to allow fuel into the cylinders.
This means that driving with a bad camshaft can be extremely dangerous.Please select a valid form
How To Change a Camshaft: 33-Step Procedure
If you want to change the camshaft yourself, you can do so. However, this is a big job. It will take 8+ hours.
In addition, it’s almost always necessary to pull the engine.
Finally, you have to get the timing perfect when putting the engine back in. If you don’t, it could destroy the engine the first time you go to drive it.
Things You’ll Need:
- Camshaft puller (check your repair manual to determine if this is necessary)
- Repair Manual
- Floor jack + jack stand
- Wrench and ratchet set
- Breaker bar
- Brake cleaner
- Cherry picker/engine hoist
- Torque wrench
- New camshafts
- Lubricant silicone
- Drain pan
- Camshaft bearings (if your camshaft has replaceable bearings)
- Camshaft seals
- Paint, chalk, or markers
- Replacement timing wheel/timing chain, etc., if you have to replace those as well
Replacing Your Camshaft:
You’ll almost always want to pull the engine to replace the camshafts. While it isn’t necessary for every engine, it’s almost impossible to set the timing properly without doing so.
This means that taking the time to drop the engine could save you significant damage to the engine.
- Park your car on a flat and level space, chock the wheels, and jack the car up. Normally, it’s easier to remove the engine if you have the wheels off, especially if you have to detach the drive train. Check your repair manual.
- Stabilize the car with at least two jack stands.
- Place jacks under the motor so that they are nearly touching the bottom of the motor. You can attach a chain or a support bar at this stage if you’d like.
- Pull the oil plug and drain the oil.
- Drain the coolant by removing the radiator cap and then releasing the valve or unscrewing the plug.
- Unbolt the manual transmission assembly.
- Unbolt the clutch assembly.
- Unbolt the flywheel. It will likely require significant force to pry it off the camshaft.
- In some cases, you can jack the oil pan up from there and then pull the camshaft. If so, skip to step 12.
- Remove anything in the way of the motor mounts. Then, unbolt them one at a time, loosening but not removing the bolts. Unbolt the transmission mount.
- Then, fully attach your cherry picker following the instructions with your model. Have someone help you to stabilize the motor as you unbolt the mounts. Then, lift the motor out of the engine being careful not to allow it to twist. Leave it on a flat surface, cylinder side up or leave it suspended.
- Unbolt the oil pan from the engine. Take some time to inspect the gasket. If it’s damaged or brittle, replacing it now will only cost you a few extra dollars.
- Remove the accessories over the intake manifold. Normally these include the air filter, the fuel lines, the throttle links, the air filter container, and, in older vehicles, the carburetor.
- Detach the spark plug wires from the valve covers. Remove the spark plugs from the valve covers. Then, remove the valve covers
- Remove rockers, hydraulic lifters, and push rods. In most vehicles, you’ll have to turn the engine over to remove valve spring pressure from rocker-to-valve stem contact points.
- Remove any sensors on the manifold. Normally, these include the Manifold Air Temperature and Mass Air Flow and Intake Air Temperature Sensors. Unbolt them and remove the wiring. You may want to use masking tape to label each part and where it goes.
- Remove the timing chain bolts.
- Use a marker, paint, or good chalk to mark the engine for the next step. Here, you want to rotate the camshaft wheel until the V or triangle on the camshaft is at dead center. Marking this will make it a lot easier to put back correctly later.
- Use a camshaft puller to remove the camshaft. You may be able to use a wrench to manually turn it but it’s crucial to do so slowly and carefully.
- Remove the timing wheel, chain, or other parts you want to replace at this point.
- Clean the new camshaft and other parts as directed on the package.
- Use oil conditioner or camshaft lubricant to lightly coat the lobes and bearings on the camshaft.
- Push the camshaft as far back into the block as you can.
- Fasten the upper timing gear.
- If you’re replacing bearings, now is the time to do so. Use lubricant and plastigauge or a set of calipers to set them to the specifications in your repair manual.
- Then, set the timing chain, aligning the V or notch to the mark you made before. Rotate the gear until the mark is at 12 o’clock.
- Then, rotate the upper timing gear to the 6 o’clock position.
- Move the lower timing gear to the 12 o’clock position.
- Place the timing cover seal.
- Position the timing cover over the oil pan and use silicone lubricant to ensure a tight fit.
- Replace the oil pan.
- Lubricate and install the new set of lifters. Once the hydraulic lifters are back in place, you can install the rocker arms, then install the pushrods against those.
- Replace everything on the engine in the opposite order including sensors, pans, covers, etc. Replace the engine and re-assemble the motor mounts. Now is a good time to inspect these for damage. Double check the suspension and drivetrain if this was detached. Then, replace the accessories you removed from the engine. You’ll also want to refill the engine oil and coolant according to your engine’s specifications. Finally, inspect the engine to ensure you haven’t missed anything.
From here, you can test the timing by turning the engine on and letting it run. If there are no issues, you’re good. If you have to adjust the timing, you should do so now.
In addition, it’s always a good idea to run the motor for a few minutes with the radiator cap off. Press the gas pedal a few times, holding it about a quarter of the way down, and let the engine get to full temperature.
Then, turn the engine off and replace the radiator cap.
Replacing camshafts is a big job because they are normally on the bottom of the engine. Normally, they also require a significant amount of work to remove, clean, and replace. That’s especially true if you have to place and set new bearings. And, if you get the timing wrong it will destroy your motor. For that reason, it’s always better to double and triple check alignment before turning the motor on.
If you have a mechanic do the work, camshaft replacement costs are normally between $1500 and $3,000. Most of that is labor, but the job will take 8+ hours.Please select a valid form