There you are, sitting in a drive-thru and hear an awful noise. You look around to try and figure out whose car is about to blow up — and to your dread, that noise is coming from your engine! Most likely, if you notice an in-time sound at idle that goes away when you start to increase RPMs, the pin in your cam phaser has gone bad and needs to be replaced.
What Causes Cam Phaser Failure
Cam phaser issues were a common problem on certain 3 valve Ford engines, and the design has been updated since. They had a minor oil pressure problem as well. The cam phasers are used to advance and retreat cam timing. This is oil pressure controlled by variable cam timing solenoids.
When commanded, the solenoids direct oil pressure to advance or retreat the timing. If the pressure drops due to a malfunctioning part, it will cause a knocking noise. Basically, a locking pin keeps oil thin at idle, and the problem goes away when you start driving. The fix for this doesn’t require special tools, except maybe a wedge tool for the timing chain. Here’s the easy way to fix cam phasers.
Fixing the Issue
Here's a great video that goes over cam phaser issues and how to fix them:
- Start by pulling the air box and air intake snorkel from the engine bay.
- Then unhook the harness that goes over the valve covers, ignition coils, and PCV valve.
- On the left hand side, pull the dipstick tube.
- Remove the valve covers by taking out the 8mm bolts holding them in place.
- With the valve covers off, put the crankshaft keyway in the 12 o’clock position. This will allow you to take out three rocker arms from each side as needed.
- On the right, pull the center rocker arm for number one and two intake for the number four cylinder.
- On the left, pull two intake rocker arms on number five and one exhaust on number eight.
- Loosen the 15mm bolt that holds the phaser to the cam and get them one full turn lose.
- Pull the cam sensor out to keep it from being damaged.
- Bring the crank position to the 6 o’clock position now.
- Position the timing chain wedge to hold the chain.
- Mark the timing chain to the old phaser.
- Take the 15mm bolt out now and pull the cam phaser off, taking the timing chain off, and removing it from the engine.
- Work the new one on and line it up with the marks. Bolt it back in with the new bolt.
Replace everything how you took it off and enjoy your noise free engine! Be sure to watch the video above to see how all of these parts are removed. Also, only use a genuine OEM cam phaser to avoid premature failure.