Have you ever wondered why some cars have a click noise from the engine when they start?
Cam phasers are designed to stop the engine from turning over too soon after starting. They also prevent the engine from stalling out.
Cam phasers are electronic devices that control the timing of the ignition system.
The cam phaser is usually installed between the distributor cap and the spark plug wire.
When the ignition switch is turned on, the cam phaser engages and prevents the engine from turning over before the proper time.
This allows the engine to run smoothly without stalling or misfiring.
There are pros and cons to using a cam phaser lockout. Some owners say that their car has better performance because of the cam phaser lockout.
Others claim that it makes their car sound worse. Today we’ll be looking at the benefits and drawbacks of cam phaser lockouts.
Table of Contents
- Why Do Cam Phasers Click?
- How Much Does It Cost To Get A Cam Phaser Replaced?
- Why Has Your Cam Phaser Gone Bad?
- Benefits Of Cam Phaser Lockouts
- Cons Of Cam Phaser Lockouts
- Why You Should Get A Cam Phaser Lockout Now
- Other Reasons Why Your Engine Might Be Clicking
- How To Know What’s Wrong With The Engine
Why Do Cam Phasers Click?
Cam phaser failures could be due to low oil pressure within the solenoids.
These solenoids keep the oil pressure maintained, which allow sufficient pressure to be applied to the cam phaser.
This pressure makes the phaser change position and therefore affects the timings.
Low oil pressure makes the pin drop into the hole that holds the phaser in a fixed position. This could be the culprit for the clicking sound.
Luckily, fixing a failed cam phaser is quite a simple process that requires simple tools and not too much time.
It’s also quite cheap to get a professional to fix, too.
If your cam phaser fails, you won’t necessarily have to stop driving your car altogether.
There are damage control systems in place within engines should something go wrong within it. There is a system in place should your cam phaser break.
Here is what will happen if your cam phaser falters:
The engine control module will lock the cam phaser and ensure that the valves are not in contact with the pistols.
This prevents the engine from becoming any more damaged.
The engine light will blink, which alerts the driver that something is wrong with the engine. The light you will see will be the Check Engine Light.
Now the engine reduces power and RPMs, risking more damage being done to the engine.
However, driving even on this lower power might still damage your engine, so get it checked out as soon as possible before you drive on it anymore.
Your engine will also slow your car’s speed to prevent the risk of combustion increasing and therefore preventing any more damage from being done.
The best thing to do when you hear your engine making a clicking sound is to either drive your car home or the nearest garage to get it checked out.
Driving on it any more than you need to could potentially damage the inner workings of your engine, or even more.
How Much Does It Cost To Get A Cam Phaser Replaced?
A new cam phaser can cost anywhere between $150 to $550 depending on where you buy it.
You can save money by buying one online, but make sure that they’re reputable sellers.
It’s always recommended to take your vehicle to a mechanic who knows how to repair them. They can tell whether or not the cam phaser needs replacing.
If it does, then they can replace it for you.
However, if it doesn’t, then there may be other issues going on with your engine that require further investigation.
Why Has Your Cam Phaser Gone Bad?
There are many reasons to explain why your cam phaser might have gone bad and caused the clicking.
One reason is that the cam phaser has worn out over time. This means that the pins that hold the cam phaser in place have become loose.
When the pins loosen, they fall out of their holes and cause the cam phaser to click.
Another reason is that the oil pressure is low.
When the oil pressure is not strong enough, it won’t give the cam phaser enough power that it needs at a given time. This causes the cam phaser to wear out faster.
You could also check if your oil needs changing.
Not changing your oil enough can lead to the oil becoming dirty, leading it to wear down the parts of your engine quicker.
Always change your oil on time to avoid any damages being done to the engine – not just the cam phaser.
You might also want to check on the oil that you’re using in your engine.
Using the incorrect oil might cause problems for your engine due to poor viscosity from poor oil49 pressure.
The low oil pressure could damage the cam phaser by causing it to respond slowly.
A broken Electrical Control Unit (ECU) might also be to blame for your cam phaser breaking.
Once the computer loses control of the cam phaser, it could cause the latter to break down.
A damaged sprocket or gear could be another reason for the wear of your cam phaser.
You’ll have to get this replaced as well as the cam phaser to avoid it from damaging your new cam phaser prematurely.
You might also consider getting a friction modifier to avoid this happening again in the future.
Lastly, debris and dirt within your engine could be at fault.
The presence of dirt within the engine might cause your oil to go bad, which can then damage your cam phaser and other parts of the engine.
Benefits Of Cam Phaser Lockouts
There are many benefits to cam phaser lockouts. One benefit is that your engine will not stall while driving.
Another benefit is that your engine can’t turn over too early. If your engine turns over too soon then it could cause damage to your engine.
Here are a few of the biggest advantages about using cam phaser lockouts.
Completely Removes Engine Clicking Noise
A lockout in the engine removes the clicking noise throughout its systems.
These cam phasers work best when your engine has not been damaged due to road incidents.
If you’ve ever driven and noticed an annoying knocking noise coming from the engine, you might want to check that the cam phaser is still in good working order.
Cheap To Install
The cost for installing a cam phaser lockout is cheap considering how much it improves your car’s performance.
Compared to other methods of preventing the engine clicking sounds, this is one of the cheapest.
A cam phaser lockout is around half the price of any alternative methods of reducing the clicking.
To put this into perspective, you might be tempted to replace the engine when it starts knocking.
For this job you can expect to pay between $3500 and $5000.
This overall cost will vary depending on the make and model of your vehicle, but this is the average price of a low mileage family car.
Alternatively, you can install a cam phaser lockout for around $25 to $100. Think about those savings!
If your engine is clicking, you don’t have to automatically assume the worst and get your engine replaced. You can install a cam phaser lockout for a tenth of the price!
Not only is this a cheap alternative to replacing your engine, but it can also provide you with a long term service and keep your engine running silently for a long time.
Increases Your Mileage Per Gallon
Every vehicle owner wants to know how to get more bang for their buck when it comes to gas.
The mileage per gallon (MPG) refers to how much fuel your vehicle is consuming for every mile it drives.
A car of 50 MPG will be able to drive for 50 miles on just one gallon of fuel.
When you install a lockout, however, the amount of fuel consumed reduces when the RPM is lower because of the 20 degrees advancement timings.
This means that you’ll be spending less money on fuel when driving with a cam phaser lockout installed.
Impressive Engine Power
The cam phaser can boost your engine’s power and allows your car to achieve higher speeds. However, phasers are not foolproof and they do sometimes fail.
This is where the lockout comes in. The lockout prevents the cam phaser from being able to fail and therefore helps to boost the engine power indefinitely.
While the lockout doesn’t directly increase the engine’s power any more than the cam phaser does, by preventing the latter from ever being able to falter, it does indirectly keep the power boosted.
Saves Money On Maintenance
If you’re looking for ways to save money on maintenance, then a cam phaser lockout could be a great option.
Since the lockout keeps the cam phaser from failing, you won’t need to keep spending money on routine repairs or replacements.
When a cam phaser fails, it can damage the parts of the engine around it by wearing them out.
This is because these other parts have to start working overtime because the cam phaser has burned out.
The lockout prevents this from happening so that you don’t have to worry about spending more money on additional engine parts.
You’ll find the cam phaser in your engine inside of the phaser compartment.
Highly pressurized oil is applied to the cam phaser, allowing it to accumulate within the cylindrical parts of the engine.
The applied pressure from the oil then changes the cam phaser’s position.
However, when no pressure from the oil is applied, the phaser remains in position thanks to the lock that works as a pin inside a hole.
When oil pressure is introduced, the phaser is unlocked which allows it to rotate. This could also adjust the valve timing, throwing your entire engine out of sync.
If a lockout was used, none of these parts would be able to be damaged due to the cam phaser burning out.
Less Unnatural Noises
Most noises coming from your engine can be put down to a worn down cam phaser.
While this is not always the case, most mechanics will look at the phaser first when assessing a noisy engine.
It could also be put down to a lack of oil pressure in the phasers, which is caused by worn down cylindrical heads.
Adding a lockout can prevent the cam phaser from wearing down, which in turn will eliminate these noises altogether.
Easier Warm Up Mode
Some people have found that their phaser has affected the idle within their engines, making it much harder for the engine to warm up and stay warm.
A cam phaser lockout can help with this issue by reducing the amount of time spent warming up the engine.
Increased Fuel Efficiency
A cam phaser lockout can also make your engine run better, saving fuel.
By keeping the cam phaser locked in place, it reduces the amount of time spent revving the engine.
This means less time spent spinning the crankshaft, which results in less energy being wasted.
Cons Of Cam Phaser Lockouts
There is only one potential drawback of cam phaser lockouts that we can see, and that is a slightly reduced MPG.
When you drive on a low RPM with a lockout, your MPG is increased. On the other hand, when you drive on a regular or high RPM, your MPG is reduced by one.
For example if your car’s original MPG was 50 MPG without a lockout, it will change to 49 MPG after you install your cam phaser lockout – even when driving at a regular or high RPM.
Why You Should Get A Cam Phaser Lockout Now
Cam phasers are within every vehicle, but not every car comes with a cam phaser lockout.
We’ve already mentioned that if your engine is making a clicking noise, there is a good chance that it could be your cam phaser.
A cam phaser looks like a large disc with a few mechanisms attached, but it is much more than that.
It’s a computer-operated sprocket that links to the camshaft while being attached to the cam drive sprocket.
It controls the camshaft to move it in the same way as the crankshaft and the pistons attached to it.
When the timing is off within the engine due to a bad cam phaser, it can cause the engine to misfire.
Misfiring is the result of when the combustion reaction doesn’t happen properly. The cylinder will remain unfired and therefore will end in the misfiring.
A misfire can not only happen on start-up, but it can also happen while the car is idling too. This means that you can be driving when your engine misfires.
The engine will stumble and you might lose speed too, possibly creating a dangerous situation for you to be in.
The best thing you can do about this is get a cam phaser lockout now.
If you don’t want to spend money on one, then you should buy an aftermarket cam phaser lockout instead. They’re easy to install and they’ll save you some cash.
Other Reasons Why Your Engine Might Be Clicking
We have been heavily relying on the cam phaser to be worn down to result in the clicking noise that you are hearing.
However, this is not always the only reason why your engine is making a knocking sound.
There are other reasons why your engine may be clicking or making other noises. These include:
The Valve Springs Are Too Soft
The valves inside your engine being too soft is something that happens due to the valve springs not being strong enough.
As a result, the valves won’t close completely, causing them to hit against each other. This creates a loud banging noise that you’ll hear while driving.
The Cylinder Heads Are Worn Down
When the head gaskets become damaged, the cylinders will leak air into the crankcase.
This causes the piston rings to wear out faster and makes them stick together. As a result, they create a loud knocking noise while the engine is working.
The Piston Rings Aren’t Tight Enough
Speaking of the piston rings, there is another reason why they might be creating the clicking noise.
If the piston rings aren’t tight enough, they will rub against each other. This will cause a clicking to come from the engine.
In addition, it will increase friction between the piston and the cylinder wall, which will reduce power output.
The Pistons Have Been Damaged
If the pistons have been damaged, they will no longer push the valves open and closed.
As a result, it will cause the valves to remain in a slightly closed position, but not fully closed, and will be able to hit against each other and create a loud banging noise from the engine.
The Valves Are Damaged
When the valves are damaged, they will bounce around inside the cylinder. This will make a loud banging noise.
As a result, you need to replace all of the valves within the engine as well as anything that was damaged due to the valves banging around within it.
How To Know What’s Wrong With The Engine
Ultimately, the only way to know what is exactly wrong with your engine, and why it is making the clicking noise, is to look within.
You can check the oil level, coolant levels, spark plugs, etc., to see if any of these things are low or high.
Check all of the parts of the engine to see if they’re worn down, such as the valves and the cam phaser.
If you’re unfamiliar with the inner workings of an engine, then we highly suggest taking your car to a professional mechanic so that they can determine the problem.
Rooting around within your engine without knowing what you’re doing might cause more harm than good.
Plus, you’ll probably be left with a lot of engine parts that need to be put back together. If you don’t know how to do this, then you’ll be left without a car.
Overall, it is much easier to get a skilled professional to do the examination for you.
Then they’ll be able to fix anything that is worn down or broken so that you can drive your vehicle home without the annoying clicking sound.
Overall, we think that the benefits of cam phaser lockouts greatly outweigh the drawbacks.
There is only one con that we can see with lockouts, and it is such an insignificant change to your MPG that we don’t think you’ll notice.
The clicking sound coming from your engine could be due to many different things, but many people report that their cam phaser was to blame.
A cam phaser lockout can prevent your cam phaser from being the problem and protect your engine from problems that arise from a worn down cam phaser.