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Cam Phaser Lockout: Pros and Cons – Is It A Good Idea?

Cam Phaser Lockout: Pros and Cons
Written by Nick Steiner

The cam phaser’s ability to regulate the timing in the VVT system is essential to your car or truck running at peak performance. Defective cam phasers affect your engine’s efficiency and the amount of gas the vehicle uses.

Here we look at what the cam phaser does, signs the cam phasers are working improperly, the pros and cons of cam phaser lockouts, and how to install the lockouts properly.

Cam phaser – A quick look

Knowing what the camshaft does is helpful to understand better how the cam phaser works. The camshaft is an internal part of the combustion engine in diesel and gasoline power vehicles. Its precise timing opens and closes the exhaust and inlet valves, creating the engine’s firing sequence.

The cam phaser regulates the variable-valve timing (VVT) by adjusting the position of the camshaft to regulate the valve’s timing. Unfortunately, cam phasers have a high failure rate.

Cam phaser lockouts

Cam phaser rings are pliable. The lockouts are aluminum and plastic, so they’re stiffer and better at blocking the valves from rising and falling so the valve can’t go all the way into the exhaust chamber, so the lockouts dampen engine noise.

Unfortunately, cam phaser lockouts often reduce the car’s power and increase gas use at higher speeds.

Cam Phaser Lockout: Pros and Cons

Cam phaser lockout: Pros and cons

 Pros

  • Reduced gas consumption decreases with lower RPMs
  • Money in your pocket because the cam phaser lockout stops the phasers from failing, thus reducing repair costs
  • Boosts engine power by eliminating cam phaser failure, which causes a decrease in engine power
  • A cost-effective solution to eradicating cam phaser failure
  • No more knocking with their stiffer construction
  • Improved engine capability created by the lockouts protection of lash adjusters, the pistons, and chain tensioners

Cons

  • Increase in fuel consumption at higher RPMs

Signs Your Cam Phasers Are Faulty

Signs Your Cam Phasers Are Faulty

Knocking engine

When the car idles, the cam phasers should lock into place. Once the locking mechanism fails, the engine’s top-end develops a knocking or rattling noise most noticeable as the engine gets hot.

Check engine light comes on

Using the camshaft’s position sensors, the vehicle’s computer picks up on the change in the camshaft’s position caused by the faulty cam phaser. The check engine light pops on, and the code stores for later use.

Poorly performing engine

A decrease in acceleration and the engine running roughly are caused by the cessation of speeding up and slowing down of the valve timing when the cam phaser doesn’t work as it should.

The causes of cam phaser failure

The most common cause of cam phaser failure is the gears inside the cam phasers wearing out. This causes the valve timing to cease, which stalls the engine and results in knocking.

Other reasons like leaking gas or oil from the phasers will ruin the cam phasers. Changing the timing belt and continual manual adjustments will also wear out the cam phasers.

When to use a cam phaser lockout?

Install cam phaser lockouts to eliminate rattling/knocking in the engine, increase the vehicle’s fuel consumption and increase the efficiency of your vehicle.

How to install a lockout kit?

Tools

  • Cam phaser lockout kit
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Black sharpie
  • 15 mm socket and wrench
  • A vice
  • Locktite Blue threadlocker
  • 1 pound Torque wrench

Step 1

Read the instructions that came with the lockout kit. Remove the valve cover.

Step 2

The wedge has a slot on the top where you can place the head of the screwdriver to put pressure on the wedge. Locate the cam phaser on the outer side of the camshaft and place the wedge in the timing belt, between the front cover and the phaser. You may have to wiggle the cable a bit to get it in place and use the screwdriver to push it down into position.

Step 3

From the back side of the phaser, push the screwdriver into the top slot of the wedge, pushing down so the wedge is positioned between two pieces of the timing chain. Then use a hammer to tap the wedge firmly in place. Pull-on the cord several times to ensure the wedge won’t come out. It Should Not Move As You Pull The Cord.

Step 4

Using a sharpie, make a mark on the phaser that matches a timing chain link. This ensures the timing chain lines up later in the installation.

Step 5

Remove the camshaft bolt using a 15 mm socket. Using a wiggling motion, remove the phaser from the camshaft. As you remove the phaser, move it down to remove the chain from the phaser and free the phaser. Lay the chain on the timing cover.

Step 6

Note the placement of the long bolts in the phaser holding the spring in place and mark their position on the top of the phaser with a sharpie. Then place the phaser in the vice with the bolt side up.

Remove all the bolts, leaving the bolt holding the spring in place. Loosen the bolt not removed a few turns, so the cover is removable.

Step 7

Slide the cover to the side but hold the spring in place with your finger. Once the cover is out of the way, allow the screw to pop up and stay on the hole. Take the lockout, which looks like a thick wedge, and place it in the hole of the phaser where it is snuggest. Use both thumbs to push it down into place.

Once in place, the phaser’s inner and outer sections should not move. Lastly, move the cover back in place as you press the screw down. Tighten the screw you did not remove to lower the cover.

Now apply a Blue threadlocker to the tips of all the screws as you replace the screws and tighten them. Do not replace the longest screw.

Step 8

Remove the phaser from the vice. Replace the long bolt. You will see it protrude from the bottom of the phaser. Holding the screw in place, place the phaser back in the vice. Holding the timing reluctor on the phaser. Use the screwdriver to pull up on the spring while holding the phaser tightly. Pull up the spring and slide the screwdriver to get the bolt in place.

Step 9

Place the phaser in the vice, standing upright. Set the torque on the wrench to 145-inch pounds. Torque the bolts in a criss-cross pattern, making sure to hear the click on each bolt. Once the reassembly is complete, remove the phaser from the vice.

Step 10

Place the timing chain on the phaser with the marks you made earlier matching up exactly. If the marks are off by even one link, it could cause engine failure. As you get the timing chain on, wiggle the phaser back on the camshaft.

Once the phaser is in place, use a new bolt to attach the phaser to the camshaft. The bolt has one torque yield, so once it is torqued, it can not be used again.

Step 11

Use the one-pound torque wrench set at 40-newton meters to torque the bolt. Then mark the position of the bolt and its position to the phaser in 2 spots at a 90-degree angle. The bolt requires a 90-degree turn to hold the phaser.

Once tightened, give a hard tug on the wedge cable and remove the wedge from the timing chain. Once out, you are finished! Replace the valve cover.

What happens if you never replace cam phasers?

Leaving a bad cam phaser in place can cause severe damage to the ECU, solenoids, and eventually the engine. This is a great way to ruin the engine. A cam phaser costs about $25 to $30, and a new engine is upwards of $4500, making the cam phaser replacement an excellent value for your money!

About the author

Nick Steiner

Nick has been a car nut for his whole life as far as he can remember. His father was a car dealer who used to change and repair his cars himself. As a result, Nick had the opportunity to get around all sorts of cars and learned to get his hands dirty repairing vehicles from an early age.

Nick is a great fan of Japanese quality and German preciosity. His deep passion lies in older models that he believes have a flair that takes him back to his childhood. He also loves their durability and reliability when compared to the modern models.

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