What is a camshaft?


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Want to know what exactly the camshaft does in your car? Check out our blog article on the camshaft.


What does a camshaft do?

Without a camshaft, the four-stroke internal combustion engine cannot function in a vehicle, regardless of whether it is a diesel or gasoline engine.

This is because the camshaft is responsible for opening and closing the valves in the engine or cylinder head.

To control the valves, the camshaft is fitted with so-called “cams”, depending on how many valves are installed in the engine and how many cams are also installed on the camshaft.

The task of the cams is to convert the rotary motion of the camshaft into a lifting motion in order to be able to press on the valves.

If the cam presses down on the valve via a hydraulic tappet or cup tappet, the valve is opened. If the cam no longer presses on the hydraulic tappet or cup tappet, the valve is pushed up again by the valve spring.

The camshaft is driven by the crankshaft. The crankshaft and camshaft are connected by a timing belt or timing chain.

Modern in-line engines normally have two camshafts; boxers or V-engines can have up to four camshafts.

Different designs of the camshaft:

There are various camshaft designs as well as different materials and production processes.

The most commonly used type of camshaft is the cast or hollow-cast camshaft. Forged steel camshafts are also used in high-performance engines.

A relatively new type of camshaft is a so-called “tubular steel camshaft”, which is also known as a “built” camshaft. The advantage of this camshaft is the weight saving because here 20-40% of weight can be saved compared to the above mentioned camshafts.

What kind of damage can occur to the camshaft?

  • Scoring on the bearing shells/Bearing shells worn out
  • Camshaft running surface damaged
  • Material removal at the cams

Camshafts are generally not wearing parts, but damage to the camshaft can still occur.

Common causes of defective camshafts are inadequate oil supply or overloading of the engine over a longer period of time.


Camshaft position sensor symptoms

A malfunctioning camshaft position sensor can cause a number of issues in a vehicle, including:

  1. Engine misfires
  2. Engine stalling or hesitation
  3. Engine rough idling
  4. Poor acceleration
  5. Decreased fuel efficiency
  6. Check Engine Light illumination
  7. Engine failure to start or start and stall

It’s important to note that these symptoms can be caused by other issues as well.

Camshaft position sensor location

The camshaft position sensor is typically located near the camshaft or valve cover on the engine. Its exact location may vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle. In some cases, it may be located on the side of the engine block or cylinder head, or near the crankshaft position sensor.

How to reset camshaft position sensor?

The process for resetting a camshaft position sensor can vary depending on the make and model of the vehicle, but generally, it involves the following steps:

  • Locate the camshaft position sensor. This sensor is typically located near the top of the engine, on or near the cylinder head. It may be mounted on the front or rear of the engine.
  • Disconnect the sensor’s electrical connector. This is typically a small, plastic connector that is attached to the sensor.
  • Clean the sensor and the connector. Use a clean cloth or brush to remove any dirt or debris from the sensor and the connector.
  • Reconnect the sensor’s electrical connector. Make sure it is securely connected.
  • Perform a scan of the vehicle’s engine control module (ECM) with a diagnostic scanner. This will clear any codes or error messages related to the camshaft position sensor.
  • Start the engine and check for any warning lights or error messages related to the camshaft position sensor. If none appear, then the sensor has been reset.

Please be aware that if the camshaft position sensor is faulty, it may need to be replaced. Also, it is important to check the vehicle’s repair manual for the specific instructions for your vehicle, as the above steps may vary depending on the make and model of your car.

What to do after replacing camshaft sensor?

After replacing the camshaft sensor, it is important to clear any diagnostic trouble codes (DTCs) that may have been stored in the engine control module. This can typically be done using a diagnostic tool, such as an OBD-II scanner. It is also a good idea to test drive the vehicle to ensure that the sensor is functioning properly and that the engine is running smoothly. If any issues persist, it may be necessary to further diagnose the problem and make any necessary repairs.

Keep in mind, that every car has different software and modules built-in. Therefore specific features will vary with every model.

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