What happens when Cam Phasers go bad Jan 2023

What happens when Cam Phasers go bad

5/5 - (15 votes)

Camshafts control engine intake and exhaust valve timing, and this, in turn, determines how aggressively an engine performs. It is possible to adjust valve timing using a cam phaser or variable valve timing (VVT). While a more aggressive camshaft produces more horsepower, it also has more heat, noise, and fuel consumption than a more mild camshaft does. But what happens when cam phasers go bad?

This blog post by CareRepairZone.com is going to explain everything associated with cam phasers, their working, issues, and how to solve the problems related to them in detail.

What happens when Cam Phasers go bad?

Actually, the VVT system’s modern internal combustion engine relies heavily on cam phasers. Having faulty cam phasers in your engine might cause catastrophic harm. A worn cam phaser causes a harsh and loud idle sound. In reality, it causes the engine to operate inconsistently.

Driving would be difficult if the cam phaser malfunctioned. The sound of the cam phaser will gradually increase in volume. As a result, you must consider finding a long-term solution to the noise problem.

What is a Cam Phaser?

A “cam phaser” is just a camshaft sprocket that a servo-controlled servo mechanism may spin. It is possible for the computer to advance the camshaft at low revs to improve handling and to retard the camshaft at high revs to increase horsepower.

how cam phasers work

These cam phasers may also be used to adjust the relative positions of the intake and exhaust valve cams in dual-overhead-cam engines. As a result, the computer will be able to alter “valve overlap,” or how long the intake and exhaust valves are both open simultaneously. For a more civilized and efficient engine, less valve overlap is preferable. Conversely, more significant valve overlap is beneficial for high-rpm horsepower.

An engine cam phaser is a gear system that changes the cam shaft’s position while operating. The cam phasers are activated by engine pressure traveling through the camshaft and cylinder head. The computer in an automobile manages the gears in a cam phaser.

What happens when cam phasers fail? the VCT solenoids are damaged, and the ECU loses control of the phasers. The engine’s timing would be disrupted, causing phaser noise. Excessive phase noise may be due to lubrication problems. If left unattended, it may cause valve timing issues and engine damage.

According to the latest NHTSA research, a cam phaser issue causes crashes in 1 in 7 auto-braking systems. Reliable research indicates a 5% likelihood of an accident without a cam phaser, but a cam phaser failure doubles the probability of an accident.


Cam Phasing and variable duration:

Cam phasing is the process of permitting the valves to open and shut sooner or later. Changing the timing of a camshaft’s lift and duration cannot be done entirely using a cam phasing device. As a refresher, the crankshaft is turned in the opposite direction of the crankshaft when the phase angle of the camshaft is advanced or retracted.

VVT, on the other hand, refers to the process of adjusting the timing of the lift event of a piston. It improves the quality of a vehicle’s emissions, fuel efficiency, and performance. Increasing use of VVT processes and variable valve lift systems are linked.

What does a Cam Phaser do?

What does a Cam Phaser do

Before answering the question about what happens when cam phasers go bad, it is important to explain the need for cam phasers. Cam Phasers provide a number of advantages for using a vehicle with cam phasers, including:

  • Increase fuel economy
  • Reduce engine turn-over torque
  • Maintenance of the camshafts in the correct position

How far the intake and exhaust valves open, how long they remain open, and when they open and shut determine the majority of an engine’s character. You can achieve a rumpy, muscle-car idle, and high-rpm horsepower by opening the valves more and a bit later and keeping them open for longer.

You’ll get a more civilized engine with a steady idle, strong low-rpm torque, better fuel efficiency, and reduced pollutants if you do the reverse. Valve timing has traditionally been regulated in all aspects by a camshaft with precisely calibrated lobes that forced the valves open at precisely the right moment.

When adjusting the cam timing of a vehicle, a key component is a cam phaser. Valves open and shut more quickly if the cam is “advanced” or shifted slightly relative to the crankshaft, resulting in an increase in horsepower. However, its cam advance is not good for top-end horsepower, making it a good choice for a more civilized engine.

Role of camshaft:

Role of camshaft

Camshaft advance and retard were adjusted during the engine construction process in the early days, either by shifting the whole cam sprocket gear one tooth ahead or backward on the timing chain or by using aftermarket adjustable sprockets that we’re able to be moved relative to the actual camshaft.

When looking at an ICE, look for a cylindrical rod or shaft with cam lobes arranged in a teardrop pattern throughout its length, which may be recognized as the camshaft.

The camshaft regulates the piston’s piston stroke by opening and shutting the intake and exhaust valves with its precisely calibrated lobes. A cheap cam phaser lockout kit may reduce engine noise without dismantling the complete engine. Checking the camshaft is always a good idea since worn cam phasers might indicate a faulty camshaft. Diagnostics of the vehicle’s variable camshaft timing system are critical.


Cam Phaser for Ford:

Cam Phaser for Ford

The engine’s camshaft is equipped with cam phaser systems in all Fords built from 2005. VVT solenoids are controlled by the PCM, which receives information from numerous sensors. In most cases, each phaser has one VVT solenoid. Phasers may be found on either the exhaust or intake camshafts of a vehicle, or they can be found on both.

Some of the popular Ford vehicles with Cam Phaser are:

  • Ford F-150 (4.6)
  • Ford Explorer (4.6)
  • Ford Explorer Sport Trac (4.6)
  • Ford Mustang GT (4.6)
  • Mercury Mountaineer (4.6)
  • Ford F-150 (5.4)
  • Ford F-250 (5.4)
  • Ford F-350 (5.4)

It is possible for the engine control unit (ECU) to be unable to regulate the cam phaser solenoids if a cam phaser goes defective. The engine might be damaged if the issue isn’t taken care of immediately. Do you know what is a cam phaser Ford F-150?

The Ford F-150 was produced between 2004 and 2010. Fifth-generation F-150 is likely the most well-known and best-known for these Ford cam phaser problems. In the years after the makeover of the 2004 F-150, it changed from five to seven. The cam phaser Ford F-150 fuel efficiency boosts the low end slightly. Ford’s 4.6, 5.4, and 6.8-liter modular motors include the most up-to-date technology, and the company incorporated variable cam timing to the three-valve cylinder head in 2004. These modifications resolved the Ford F-150 cam phaser issue.

Why does the Ford phaser squeak?

Why does the Ford phaser squeak

A combination of the two primary causes of phaser failure is often responsible for a louder phaser sound than each of these issues on its own. Because the phaser’s wear cannot regulate oil pressure and hence cannot control the cam timing.

On some three-valve Ford engines, cam phaser difficulties were common, and the design was subsequently changed. They also experienced a slight issue with oil pressure. To advance and retract cam timing, the phasers are employed. Fixing this problem doesn’t need specialized equipment beyond a timing chain wedge tool.

For the engine computer to know precisely when to inject fuel and open the valve for air, the camshaft sensor measures the exact position and speed. Cam phaser won’t operate correctly if this sensor is defective or disconnected. This causes engine misfires, stalling, and poor mileage.

What happens when Cam Phasers go bad and their effects

How long can you drive with bad cam phasers?

Injectors, controls, and engines may all be damaged by improper cam phases. The worn phaser’s loud and rough idle noise becomes unbearable while driving. When your automobile suddenly jerks, the engine begins to sputter.

When the cam phaser is engaged, the camshaft is shifted in one direction or another during engine re-tensioning or expansion. As a result, you’ll get a better gas economy and a boost in horsepower by raising the rpm. The majority of the time, a malfunctioning engine won’t start or, if it does, will shut down immediately.

While discussing what happens when a Cam Phaser go bad, people often seem worried about another issue that will bad cam phaser damage engine?

Variable Control Timing (VCT) solenoids may fail if your cam phasers are defective. It’s also possible that the Engine Control Unit (ECU) won’t be able to control the phasers anymore. Thus, phaser noise will increase as a consequence of the engine’s timing is disrupted.

The variable camshaft timing (VCT) may be damaged if the cam phasers malfunction. A faulty camshaft may affect the engine’s timing, preventing it from starting or idling correctly. Worn cam phasers exacerbate idle noise. In the vast majority of instances, there is a thumping noise that is both annoying and disruptive. The valves will also make a high-pitched thumping sound.

When the cam phaser is engaged, the camshaft is shifted in one direction or another during engine re-tensioning or expansion. As a result, you’ll get a better gas economy and a boost in horsepower by raising the rpm. The majority of the time, a malfunctioning engine won’t start or, if it does, will shut down immediately. We hope it is now pretty much clear why worn cam phasers negatively influence automobiles.

What causes cam phasers to go bad

Symptoms of Cam Phaser failure:

It is inevitable that malfunctioning or damaged cam phasers would ultimately harm the engine. Many automobile owners have to deal with a broken cam phaser. Thirty-five percent of all engine problems may be traced back to defective cam phases.

When we need to find out what happens when cam phasers go bad, it is a must to understand the symptoms and indications of a bad cam phaser. Your vehicle may experience a number of signs indicating that your cam phaser has stopped working or have some functional issues. Some of the common 5.4 cam phaser symptoms are hereunder:

Cam Phasers Noise:

A loud clicking sound is the most obvious indicator of a broken/faulty cam phaser. When the cam phaser fails, and the VCT fails, the engine makes a loud clicking sound when started.

Your car’s cam sprocket has a cylinder head. When it wears down, it can’t provide enough oil to the engine. Low oil pressure and lack of power will cause engine failure. As a consequence, it will snarl and make a clicking noise.

It is also possible that a lubrication issue causes excessive phase noise. If you ignore it, it may lead to more severe concerns like incorrect valve timing, which can lead to engine damage. Most of the time, the car’s ECU will take every precaution to keep your engine safe. It will go into “safe mode,” which stops the engine from surpassing a certain RPM. This limits the engine’s power and minimizes the risk of harm.

A default position of the phaser prevents the car’s cam phaser from making contact with the pistons. Therefore, it will get stuck in that position by default as well. When you accelerate, you’ll notice a tiny amount of power loss as well. Additionally, cam phasers have the potential to throw off the timing of the ignition system. So, it won’t be able to start or remain in a condition of inactivity. Your automobile may be suffering from a malfunctioning cam phaser if you hear any of the above-mentioned sounds.

Extraordinary Fuel Consumption:

Extreme fuel usage might be the result of a faulty cam phaser in your vehicle. The cam phaser consumes more gasoline because of the vehicle’s slow speed. A faulty cam phase reduces oil pressure in the engine. So, the engine may lose power and performance.

Engine misfire, faulty acceleration, and trouble starting the automobile are some of the common signs of power loss of the engine. In any of these automobile indicators, the cam phaser is either broken or incorrect. Moreover, this cam phaser failure will reduce the car’s mileage. Insufficient oil pressure causes the engine to underperform. So it will get less mileage than the norm.

Performance Problems with the Engine:

A cam phaser failure will cause the vehicle to operate roughly and sluggishly. As a result, the engine’s performance and acceleration may be impaired. In other words, your car’s engine’s performance will plummet precipitously.

Due to inadequate oil pressure, the engine can only operate at a maximum speed of 40 rpm when driving. The engine puts too much strain on itself since it cannot operate at optimal efficiency. Consequently, your vehicle’s fuel efficiency will plummet. This entire situation gives a hard time driving the automobile comfortably, and the engine may stop at any moment.

A Flickering Engine Light:

When a cam phaser becomes rusted, many individuals experience engine light flashing. Engine-check-light is referred to as a CEL in the industry. Your car’s CEL (Check Engine Light) will illuminate to warn you if the cam phase fails when the cam phaser malfunctions or fails, the ECU unit is also affected.

As a result, the ECU will progressively fall into a limping or tottering state. It signifies that the ECU will have a tough time operating. The engine’s RPM will decrease as the ECU’s performance declines, resulting in a loss of power.

As a result, the car’s console will get an error message from the ECU. Consequently, you’ll interpret the steady light of the CEL as a symptom of incorrect cam phases.

Some of the other common symptoms of lousy cam phasers that raise the question of what happens when cam phasers go bad are:

  • The vehicle has a rough idle
  • The inability to start or halt
  • The car won’t even start.
  • Stalling and rough idling
  • The vehicle’s cooling system is malfunctioning.
  • When accelerating or under heavy loads, the vehicle shakes.
  • A cold-starting car has poor performance, but this may be reversed with enough time spent warming it up.
  • When slamming on the throttle between 50 and 60 mph, the car loses power and surges violently. Doesn’t attain its maximum velocity.

How to prevent/fix Cam Phaser problem?


How to prevent/fix Cam Phaser problem
Auto mechanic checking an internal combustion engine.


After exploring all possibilities of what happens when cam phasers go bad, now it’s time to dig the solutions to face these issues in a better way.

If you see any or all of the aforementioned indications of a damaged cam phase, you may need to fix it to prevent the engine from completely failing. Changing the entire cam phase can be time-consuming and expensive, but it is the only option for you most of the time.

There are two common ways to prevent cam phaser problems that generate noise:

  1. Oil treatment
  2. Cam phaser replacement

Eco-friendly oil treatment is a quick and cheap way of preventing cam phaser problems. This treatment reduces wear from the cam phaser, but you cannot deal with noise issues.



On the other hand, replacing a cam phaser may be the long-lasting solution to this problem. Keeping the noisy cam phaser decreases not only the fuel mileage but also weakens the engine power of your vehicle.

In any case, if cam phasers are not replaced, it may damage a VCT and result in issues with the timing of the engine’s exhaust valves. Even when the machine functions flawlessly, the cam phasers might get stuck in the open position. Intake and exhaust valves might be damaged if the cam phaser becomes trapped or jammed. It is possible that a loss of power might be caused by one of these two types of valve timing issues. Also, if the timing is off, you can’t tune your engine.

Some of the Ford 5.4 vct solenoid symptoms are:

  • Minimum fuel economy
  • Dirty engine oil
  • The Engine Control Unit (ECU) starts acting up when the Check Engine Light turns on.

This is all what happens when cam phasers go bad, but before deciding to fix the issues, it is advised to check different conditions of lousy cam phasers. The cam phaser issues can be hydraulic, mechanical, and electrical. What happens when Cam Phasers go bad and its issues.

  • Inappropriate oil viscosity and low oil supply are common hydraulic issues.
  • Mechanical issues of a failed cam phaser could be slack, stretching, and stuck timing chain failure.
  • Failure of the camshaft timing sensor and faulty solenoid are common indications of a nasty cam phaser.

What is lockout the Cam Phaser option?

Sometimes lockout the cam phaser option is used instead of replacing it. To eliminate movement and noise associated with failed cam phasers, a cam phaser lockout might be used. You get everything you need, including a plug to stop the VVT from rotating the camshaft in the package. Install a lockout instead of a new cam phaser. This installed phaser lockout kit improves the engine performance and throttle responsiveness. It also helps you to enjoy your ride even more.

What is the cam phaser replacement cost?

The cost of a different cam phaser depends on the kind of cam phaser you have in your vehicle. Replaceable components may be found everywhere, but beware of low-quality options. Before making a purchase, confirm with the original seller to view a copy of the invoice outlining the part’s pricing. If you merely purchase the cam phaser and do it yourself, it may cost less. The typical price of a cam phaser ranges from $50 to $300.

Repairing a damaged or worn-out cam phaser is an expensive proposition. The cost of hiring a professional might range anywhere from $800 to $2500. Several criteria, including the brand and model of the car, will determine how much it will cost to repair.

The Ford F-150 cam phaser replacement cost is around $1824 to $2472. At the same time, the Ford 5.4 cam phaser replacement cost with a competent local shop dealer is between $1417 and $1620.


Q#01: What were the 5.7 Hemi cam phaser problems?

Answer: Cam phasers enable variable valve timing “for increased breathing and volumetric efficiency under a broad range of conditions” in HEMI engines developed in 2009. A four-cylinder engine running at 70 mph might use up to 40% of MDS if Chrysler used VVT to advance the cam. Except for the 2009-2010 Aspen and Durango, which were constructed on an existing chassis with a PCM that reportedly couldn’t employ VVT for EGR, the EGR valve was eliminated.

VVT creates EGR by retarding the cam and leaving some leftover exhaust gas in the cylinders. For the record, Chrysler manufactured fewer than 10,000 VVT-equipped Aspen and Durango SUVs in 2009-2010. Considering they were the only ones with an EGR valve in 2009-2010, we’re confident it’s an electrical issue rather than a mechanical one.

Q#02: Which F150 engines to avoid and which year Of F150 is most reliable?

Answer: The 4 liter Ford Modular engines have no use. Six-and-a-half. You’ll need 4 or 6 liters to comply with the rules. 8-liter cylinders are an option. These Toyota engines, which were in production from 1997 until 2004, had a slew of spark plug problems. 6L and 5 The V10 (eight units) and 4L models (4 units each). 8L).

Ford F-150s are widely expected to be the most dependable in 1993. Older models of these vehicles are still on the market, although their durability has waned over the years. As of now, they’ve logged more than 300,000 kilometers on the highways.

Q#03: A Ford F-150 has what sort of camshaft gears?

Answer: To the Ford F-150, this article pertains (2004-2008). Modular 3-valve Ford truck engines started adopting cam phasers, or computer-controlled camshaft gears, in 2004. This allowed Ford to use variable cam timing.

Buy Cam Phaser Lockout Kit:



Product Description:

Cam Phaser Sounds Solution Kit – Fixes the phasers and eliminates the ticking noise. Eliminate the noise and prevent it from happening again.

With its timing chain locking tool, you may simply adjust your vehicle’s camshaft or cam phaser without removing the timing cover. During servicing, do not remove the tool. If the tool is removed, the timing chain will be out of sync, requiring the front cover to be removed.

With this package, you can increase horsepower and torque while cutting pollutants and increasing your vehicle’s fuel economy. Ford 5.4 and 4.6 3 valve engines are compatible with this. Only OEM Cam Phasers will fit. Only Ford OEM phasers may use these lockouts. These lockouts will not fit a phaser made by an aftermarket manufacturer.


The cam phaser shifts the camshaft in both directions to satisfy the engine’s needs. The valve timing is also advanced to further improve engine RPM management and throttle responsiveness. In addition, the cam phaser enables the valve timing to be retarded so that the vehicle may travel at high speeds under heavy loads.

In addition, it aids in reducing pollutants and fuel consumption by the engine. In addition, the cam phaser helps keep the engine running cool. Answering the question of what happens when Cam Phasers go bad is a little complicated task, and we have to look for different symptoms and requirements.

Driving with a bad cam phaser may be risky, your engine will likely be badly damaged. Only unsatisfactory riding performance and damage to the solenoids may come from this. The vehicle will operate erratically as a result of the malfunctioning cam phaser. Any other issue will result in excessive engine noise due to a defective cam phaser. The faulty cam phasers should be treated or replaced as soon as feasible for these reasons.

Unfortunately, the cam phaser noise will not be eliminated with an oil treatment. You need to choose between a short-term repair and a long-term solution. On the other hand, replacing it will restore the vehicle’s fuel economy, ride comfort, and friction reduction. A reliable and affordable option can be the use of Cam Phaser Lockkit.

As a result of this information, now you know what happens when cam phasers go bad. CareReapirZone hopes this entire information will surely help you to deal with a malfunctioning cam phaser. Using a phaser lockout kit, you may effectively convert the phaser into a fixed timing gear and address cam phaser difficulties.