What Is A Cam Phaser?


It’s challenging to keep track of everything that’s involved in the engine because there are so many moving parts. 

When a problem arises, you must identify the problematic component.

This makes a lot of people curious about the cam phaser, including what it is, what it does, and the symptoms it causes.

We delve deeply into each of these facets in this guide, starting with an explanation of what the cam phaser is and how it operates, and concluding with signs that something is wrong.

So let’s dive in!

What Is A Cam Phaser?

The cam phaser is a component of the variable valve timing system.

Modern automobiles come with variable valve timing systems.

The cam phaser is a crucial component of the VVT system, which helps to increase performance, boost fuel economy, and lower emissions.

These computer-controlled sprockets are attached to the cam drive sprocket, which controls the camshaft.

To adjust the position of the camshaft, cam phasers are required. For the engine’s valve timing to be accurate, it must remain in proper alignment with the crankshaft.

What Does A Cam Phaser Do?

A cam phaser’s primary function is to modify the camshaft’s location in the engine.

It is a component of the VVT system that aids in adjusting the camshaft position to get the ideal valve timing for the motor’s best performance.

The phasers are computer- and hydraulically-controlled. One is located at the end of each engine camshaft.

The VVT solenoid, also referred to as the oil control solenoid, turns each one on. The oil pressure that is applied to the cam phaser is controlled by this solenoid.

Each will have its own solenoid in it.

Some vehicles come equipped with phasers for the intake and exhaust camshafts. 

There are other variants, though, that have just one phaser. This single phaser can be found on either the intake or exhaust camshaft, depending on the model you drive.

The rotation of the camshaft is carried out by cam phasers. When necessary, this action aids in closing and opening the valves.

The phasers open the valves at precise moments while the engine is running at lower RPMs to boost performance and increase throttle responsiveness.

The valves are timed differently at higher RPMs to increase fuel efficiency and decrease harmful emissions.

What Are The Causes For Cam Phaser Failure?

What Are The Causes For Cam Phaser Failure?

1. Contaminated Oil

Sludge, dirt, and other debris contaminate the oil as it ages. The health of the cam phasers is impacted by the lower oil flow caused by all of these factors.

Because of this, you should consistently change the oil at the recommended intervals. You won’t need to change your synthetic oil as regularly as you would your normal oil.

To guarantee that the fluid is kept fresh, don’t forget to replace the oil filter at the same time.

2. Damaged Gear Or Sprocket

Additionally, motor oil aids in lubricating the gears and sprockets.

These expensive components will prematurely break if there is too much friction, which will cause issues with the cam phaser.

Friction modifiers can be added for less wear if proper lubrication causes you concern.

The best oil producers of today, however, offer everything required to maintain the engine and keep it operating smoothly.

3. Faulty ECU

The ECU is in charge of regulating the cam phasers. The phaser could malfunction if a bug prevents the computer from performing its function.

These ECU issues can be promptly identified with the best code scanner. You can make sure the phasers continue to operate as intended by fixing them.

4. Low Oil Pressure

Each cam phaser requires the proper quantity of oil pressure to be powered. The cam phaser will malfunction when the pressure is insufficient.

Your car’s oil pressure issue could be related to the oil quality or a broken oil pump.

Low oil pressure can also cause wear inside the devices as phasers are made of metal and need lubrication.

5. Wrong Oil Viscosity

To achieve appropriate friction and lubrication, you must use the proper oil viscosity for the engine.

The improper viscosity might cause a lot of wear because the engine is operating continuously at high temperatures.

Using suitable oil also ensures that the pressure is correct. Otherwise, the cam phasers will respond more slowly and sustain damage.

Bad Cam Phaser Symptoms

1. “Check Engine” Light

When a system malfunctions, the car’s computer will alert you.

The positioning of the camshaft is continuously tracked by sensors with the aid of the powertrain control module (PCM).

The “Check Engine” light will switch on if the module receives a poor reading from the sensors. Although there may be other causes for this placement issue, the cam phaser is frequently the culprit.

You should be able to pinpoint the issue more precisely by using your expert scanner to examine the diagnostic trouble codes.

2. Rattling Sounds

When the engine is running at its base idle, the cam phaser should lock into place. However, it might not be able to lock in place if the phaser has failed.

A knocking or rattling sound is the end outcome. It should be audible coming from the motor’s top. When the engine is idling or after it has warmed up, it is easier to hear.

3. Reduced Engine Performance

To make sure the engine performs as planned, the valve timing needs to be tuned. Timing will advance if the cam phaser isn’t working properly.

The engine’s performance will suffer as a result of either of these difficulties.

You can experience difficult acceleration, a harsh idle, or a lack of all the power it usually produces.

Final Thoughts

The cam phaser is an integral part of your car’s engine and has an effect on its performance, as well as fuel efficiency and emissions.

With this guide, you should now know everything you need to know about cam phasers and how to diagnose a bad one in your vehicle.

Dave Oliver

Dave Oliver is a seasoned car modification expert with over twenty years of experience in the field. His knowledge spans from restoring vintage models to implementing the latest customization technologies. He brings his passion and expertise to life through informative and engaging articles.

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