What is the Camshaft Seal all about?
Like the crankshaft, the camshaft is an essential component of the combustion process that moves your car down the road. Its motion is responsible for instigating valve movement, which regulates the air/fuel mixture that fuels the “big bang.” The camshaft uses lobes (called cams) to push against and open the valves as the camshaft rotates (springs on the valves return them to their closed position) in sync with the pistons. Note: Both valves are closed during compression and combustion so that the combustion chamber is sealed.
The camshaft seal fits between the camshaft and the cylinder head, sealing the camshaft between the top of the head and the valve cover. Like all of an engine’s internal moving parts, the camshaft must be well lubricated, essentially submerged in oil, to do its job properly. Without the camshaft seal, this lubricating oil would leak out of the engine block, befouling the engine bay and putting the engine’s internal components in danger from insufficient lubrication. It also keeps contaminants like dust and dirt from damaging the engine’s internal components.
Keep in mind:
- Typically, camshaft seals do not need to be replaced unless other components, such as the camshaft, are being replaced.
- Replace the timing belt when replacing the camshaft seals, and vice versa.
- A leak from the camshaft seal or valve cover gasket are hard to tell apart if the valve cover gasket is leaking in the same area as the cam seal.
How it’s done:
- The battery is disconnected
- The camshaft timing belt and gear is removed
- The camshaft seal is replaced
- The timing gear and timing belt is reinstalled
- The battery is reconnected and timing checked and vehicle checked for leaks.
One of the most important parts of your car, the camshaft seal is made from a durable material, capable of withstanding extreme temperatures and pressures. But if it fails, replacement is the only cure. The good news is that the seal is a relatively inexpensive component, but note that replacing it can be a labor-intensive job.
What common symptoms indicate you may need to replace the Camshaft Seal?
- Oil leaking from behind the timing cover.
- The leak will eventually damage the car’s timing belt or cause it to slip, which will in turn throw the entire combustion process off kilter: the engine will run rough, there will be a noticeable loss of power, overheating issues, stalling and backfiring, excess smoke pouring out of the exhaust, and more.
How important is this service?
Loss of oil could cause the engine to seize, and a leak could develop into a potential fire hazard as the mixes with dirt and other contaminants. Replace the camshaft seal sooner than later.