Camshafts 101

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Camshafts play an important role in the way your engine runs. It opens and closes inlet and outlet valves in the engine, in conjunction with the crankshaft, to allow your engine to breathe, essentially. Understanding your camshaft and the steps you can do to maintain it, like camshaft grinding, will help you be a more responsible and knowledgeable car owner.

The cams on the camshaft are egg-shaped lobes that control the valves on the engine. The highest point on the cam is the nose, which presses the valve open. The lowest spot is called the base circle and when the valve rests on the base circle it is closed. In between the nose and base circle are the ramps. The steeper the ramp, the quicker the mechanism to open and close the valves.

The amount the cam opens the valve is called “lift”. When the lifter is on the nose of the cam, the measurement is taken to see how large the opening in the valve is. So a lift of 500 means the lift is five-thousandths, or one-half, of an inch. Another key term to understand is “duration”. Duration refers to how quickly it takes to fully open and close.

For more information, check out the video above.

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