A vehicle’s engine contains hundreds of parts that need a way to connect to each other. Compatible parts keep your engine running and increase the parts’ overall longevity and performance. One vital component of your engine is the camshaft—here’s what you need to know about your engine’s camshaft, including what it is and how it operates.
What Is a Camshaft?
Based solely on appearance, the camshaft may seem like a very basic part. Camshafts are traditionally long, solid pieces of metal with distinct notches known as cam lobes. The lobes may be oblong or asymmetrical in shape so that they can perform specific functions at different times while the camshaft turns. While the general shape and design seem simplistic, this sturdy rod helps keep your engine running, assisting in the operation and timing of several elements within your vehicle.
What Does a Camshaft Do?
When your engine runs, the camshaft slowly turns and the cam lobes use their distinct shapes to push and operate various valves. One vital thing you need to know about your engine’s camshaft is that the orchestration of the valves can help determine how well your engine runs; therefore, you always want to have a camshaft that’s compatible with your engine. Improper components are some of the leading causes of camshaft failure, which can create a lot of problems for your vehicle. The shapes of the cams affect how they open or close the valves in a process called variable valve timing.
How Do Camshafts Affect Crankshafts?
On the opposite side of the camshaft is the crankshaft. These two metal rods spin in tandem thanks to the engine’s timing belt, and they work together to keep other components moving within the engine. As previously mentioned, the camshaft uses its cam lobes to open and close the valves, and those valves connect to the engine’s pistons, which help pressurize the air that creates power for your engine. The pistons connect to the crankshaft with connecting rods, converting linear motion into rotational motion. Essentially, the camshaft helps the valves move the pistons so that the crankshaft’s movements can provide usable energy for the engine.