The field related to automotive mechanics is usually quite complicated for many drivers and understanding what are the parts that make up a vehicle as well as its operation is essential. The car engine has a series of very important parts or components, one of which is the camshaft , an element that controls the intake and exhaust valves .

What is the camshaft?

The camshaft is a rotating shaft or bar that has a series of cams whose function is to actuate the opening and closing of the valves. They are parts that also intervene in the proper distribution of oil in the engine, making the fuel pump work properly.

  • Camshaft Features
  • Types
  • Parts of a camshaft
  • How does it work
  • What is it for
  • Breakdowns
  • Camshaft Maintenance
  • Importance

Camshaft Features

Among the main characteristics found in a camshaft are the following:

  • The camshaft is manufactured using cast iron .
  • It is responsible for controlling the movement that occurs in the exhaust and intake valves.
  • It is composed of a central shaft to which the cams are attached.
  • Its proper operation depends on the electric start of the vehicle.
  • They can also be used in other types of machines, such as loom mills , hydraulic hammers and in systems that are used to distribute water .
  • The camshaft can be double to be able to give more power and a smaller displacement to the filling and emptying systems.


There are several types of camshaft that exist in the field of mechanics. These are mentioned below.

  • SV : This type of camshaft is also known as a side valve because it is located on the side of the cylinder and inside the engine. The SV has two major disadvantages, the first is that the compression chamber has to be larger and the second is that the dimensions of the valve head are limited because there is little space for them.
  • OHV : it is located at the bottom of the engine block. It produces a type of direct transmission through the pinions and with it, the maintenance of the transmission of the elements is almost nil, which turns out to be advantageous, however, it has more number of elements that compose it and this produces that the number revs are more limited.
  • OHC : it is located in the cylinder head next to the valves. This is considered the most extended camshaft and has the ability to significantly reduce the number of parts needed to connect the shaft with the valves, making it easier to open and faster to close, generating a higher number of revolutions.

Parts of a camshaft

The parts that make up a camshaft are:

  • Main bearings : their function is to retain the camshaft in the correct place while they rotate around the engine.
  • Support : it is responsible for fixing the timing belt while synchronizing the crankshaft .
  • Additional bearings : these are parts that work with the main bearings and serve to prevent damage to the engine block when there are operating problems.
  • Lobes : they work with the movement of the piston closing and opening the intake and exhaust valves.
  • Eccentric cam of the fuel pump : it is a molding found in the opening and closing times of the fuel pump.
  • Distributor drive pin : this is a piece that, thanks to its position and shape, makes it possible to connect the distributor. It is a very important part because it helps to maintain the same time in the opening of the valves.

How does it work

The camshaft begins its operation at the moment in which the driver of the vehicle turns the ignition of the same. This movement produces the movement of the crankshaft by means of an electrical impulse. When this impulse originates, the connecting rods push and retract the pistons and direct them towards the cylinders and with this, there is a compression in the mixture that occurs between the fuel and the air to later produce a spark , which will take care of light the spark plugs that are located inside the combustion chamber .

It is important, to understand its operation, to remember that the camshaft is connected to the crankshaft, in such a way that, when the crankshaft starts to work, the rotation of the camshaft automatically begins , making it possible for the valves to open. and close to allow the passage of the mixture or to be able to expel all the gases that result from the process.

What is it for

The camshaft has many uses. It is possible to find it not only in vehicles but also in other types of engines, however, its most important application continues to be its use in the alternative internal combustion engine . Serves to properly regulate the valve closure and opening stroke , also regulating the duration of this process so that the load can be renewed in the phases of escape of admission that given gases into the cylinder.


One of the most common breakdowns that occur in the camshaft is due to lack of lubrication , which causes greater wear on the supports and bearings . When it suffers a breakdown, which is usually due to a breakage or damage , the part must be completely changed, which is a very important expense for the driver. Another common fault is bearing failure , which means that the lubricant cannot properly complete the lubrication of the motor.

Other faults include keys or pins broken , the broken cam excesses game to the end, mechanical interference, incorrect pressure on the valve springs and undue starts . Breakdowns can be noticed when the engine starts sounding strangely like a rattle, because of the bad coupling of the gears . The power loss of the vehicle is also an indicator of problems in the camshaft and the chirps .

Camshaft Maintenance

In order to maintain the camshaft well, the following recommendations are mentioned:

  • For the camshaft to function properly, it must be kept properly lubricated as lack of lubrication can cause a series of wear on the supports and bearings .
  • Controlling and maintaining the oil levels
  • In the event of any type of failure, the driver must immediately take the vehicle to a mechanic so that the part can be completely changed.
  • Monitor the power of the vehicle to determine the proper functioning of the camshaft.


The camshaft is important because it is the part that helps streamline the entire operation of the vehicle , providing greater safety in the same way . In addition, it is the piece that allows the transformation of the circular movement into a rectilinear movement , in addition to being able to determine and control the times that occur in the process of opening and closing the valves.

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