Whether you’re rebuilding your engine on your own, or simply replacing stock parts for better performing options: it’s worthwhile to explore the role your camshaft plays. The camshaft is a crucial part of the engine. It works along with the crankshaft in a particular sequence which makes the engine run.
But can the camshaft actually affect the power of your engine? Is it worth investing in a good camshaft, or will just about any camshaft with the right specifications do the job?
How much horsepower does a camshaft add?
Camshafts that are specifically created to boost performance can significantly boost your engine’s horsepower. They do this by changing the timing of the valve and increasing the duration that it is open, thus giving the engine more horsepower and quicker acceleration. You can expect up to 50-100 more HP with a good camshaft replacement.
However, if horsepower is what you’re after, just changing the camshaft won’t be enough. You might have to change some of the other parts as well and get a few upgrades in order to really unleash the full potential of your horsepower.
How Does a Camshaft Work?
You’ll find the camshaft located at the top of an engine, though it varies with different vehicles. The camshaft is responsible for the valve operation that allows the air and fuel mixture into the engine by opening and closing the valves. There is one cam that’s dedicated to each valve, and you’ll usually find a dual cam system or four camshafts in the system.
Essentially, the camshaft converts the rotational motion of the cams and converts into the up-and-down (also called reciprocal) motion of the rest of the parts in the engine. These parts include the sub-parts of the valve train. That includes the valves, valve spring, valve lifter, tappet, and rocker arm). The reason why people decide to switch their stock camshafts for better-performing aftermarket camshafts is that having more cams allows the engine to breathe better. There are more valves in a four-camshaft configuration and the engine has a better chance at intake as well as improved exhaust gas regulation.
How Much Horsepower Does a Camshaft Add And Boost Performance?
Since the camshafts directly control the valves and the movement of air and gas, the engine can function much more optimally and efficiently. Having a better camshaft means that the valves can be sustained open longer, without being out of sync or ruining the timing of the synchronized engine parts.
The flow of the perfect blend of air and fuel is what leads to an engine that delivers more horsepower, higher performance, longer durability, and most importantly: better fuel economy.
Having a better camshaft also affects the emissions of the vehicle, and helps the exhaust system work more smoothly without any trapped airways.
How do Camshafts and Crankshafts work together?
Camshafts and crankshafts are located on opposite sides of the engine but work together seamlessly for the optimal performance of the engine. They are both connected to each other with the help of an engine part called the timing chain. If you’re familiar with how a bicycle chain works, you’ll be able to visualize (and see for yourself if you’re putting together an engine on your own) how they work together. The camshaft works to convert the rotational energy into an up and down motion, and the crankshaft does the exact opposite.
The crankshaft works on converting up-and-down motion right back to rotational motion. The incredible downward force of the pistons is exerted on the crankshaft that converts it right back to a rotation. This rotation that the crankshaft performs is ultimately what runs the engine!
There are four stages to a combustion cycle that occurs in the engine. Both the camshaft and the crankshaft are part of this combustion process. Here are the four stages:
- Intake: This stage is when the air and fuel mixture are sucked in.
- Compression: This air-fuel mixture is now compressed inside the engine
- Power: The spark plug fires and this explosion causes the piston to force down.
- Exhaust: The crankshaft turns with the piston and the unnecessary gases and pollutants are expelled through the exhaust pipe and system.
In each combustion cycle, the crankshaft has two revolutions while the camshaft turns only once. The timing of each camshaft valve opening once while the crankshaft turns twice has to be perfect, which is why it’s so important that both the camshaft and the crankshaft are in sync.
Find out whether your vehicle’s engine has a timing belt or a chain that connects both the camshaft and crankshaft. While they are built to be durable, it can be disastrous if the timing belt or chain wear out and cause the engine to be out of sync. This could mean irreparable damage for the engine. Timely replacement of the crankshaft and camshaft and timing belt can save you a lot of money and trouble in the long run!
Different Ways to Increase Horsepower
Don’t just rely on your camshaft to add all the horsepower you desire. There are other ways in which you can increase the horsepower of your engine and unleash its true potential. What’s more, you can also utilize these techniques in increasing the torque of your engine along with the horsepower.
Tip #1: Replace your Air Intake
The factory air intake systems can get clogged and under-optimized after some time. Replacing these air intake setups with a better aftermarket option can bring the temperature down overall of your engine, allowing it to breathe better. Most replacement air intake systems use a free-flowing air filter which contributes to much better airflow.
However, replacing your stock air filter for an aftermarket one isn’t enough, you would also need to invest in a good-quality heat shield. This heat shield will ensure that there’s cold air instead of hot air circulating. The drop in temperature will greatly increase the horsepower and torque of your engine, thus boosting its performance.
Tip #2: Replace your Exhaust System
A very important aspect of a well-functioning exhaust system is the air regulation. It’s not just useful to change the intake set-up, but also the exhaust system. The expelling of air has to happen efficiently for your engine to operate at its highest performance.
You should consider getting a new exhaust system in order for your engine to really shine. Of course, changing your exhaust system is a modest investment to incur, and we recommend only taking this on if you’re really serious about extending the life of your vehicle and its capabilities. This is ordinarily not the kind of modification that you would perform on a car that you’re planning to sell off soon!
A better exhaust system is specifically engineered for faster and easier expelling of burned gases and pollutants so that the entire system has less exposure to these gases. However, it’s important to look into other aspects of an exhaust system as well. Pay attention to the muffler and the pipe: since the exhaust system is also responsible for the sound that your vehicle produces. Some people enjoy a loud roaring everytime they start their car, while others feel a low growl is more suitable for their vehicle of choice.
Changing your stock camshafts in your engine or rebuilding an engine for optimal performance is something that many car enthusiasts go through. Without a doubt, the camshafts can really boost the horsepower of your engine. However, it’s not enough to rely solely on the camshafts. By tweaking other aspects of your vehicle, such as the air intake set up and the exhaust system, you can majorly boost the entire horsepower and torque of your engine.