How to Install a Diesel Engine Camshaft

The camshaft: its health is vital to the overall function of your engine, so it's important to know how to properly install it. Improper install techniques can wreak havoc not just on the camshaft, but on your engine as a whole. Don't let an improperly installed camshaft cost you money!

Cummins ISX Camshaft, Remanufactued | Highway and Heavy Parts

There are two main types of camshaft configurations: in the block (overhead valves) or in the cylinder head (overhead cam). This can differ from engine to engine, and each engine make might have a different number of camshafts entirely.

Wear or damage on your camshaft can negatively affect your engine performance, so you want to make sure everything is operating in peak condition. Just .001 of an inch of wear can affect your valve timing by as much as 3 degrees. More significant damage, like considerable flaking or pitting, can even damage other engine components, leading to a much more costly repair. If you notice a loss in power or fuel economy in your engine, you should take a look at the condition of your camshaft. It might be time to replace it!


Are you looking for the best quality camshaft for your diesel engine? Call our ASE Certified Staff to find the right fit for your application!

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Wondering if you need to replace your diesel engine camshaft? Check out our post on whether or not it's time for a new camshaft.


How to Install Your Camshaft

If you've found that you need to replace your camshaft, you might be wondering if this is a job you can take on yourself. If you decide to install your own camshaft, there are a few things you should keep in mind.

The exact install directions depends on your engine model, but here are some basic steps to get you started:

  1. Lubricate the inside of the camshaft bearings
  2. Ensure that the new camshaft is clean and well-lubricated
  3. Insert the camshaft carefully into the engine block
  4. Install new o-rings onto the retainer plates
  5. Install retainer plate and capscrews, tighten to manufacturer's torque specifications (Depending on the engine type, repeat the previous steps with other camshafts if necessary)
  6. If removed, install the rear cover plates
  7. Install timing gears according to factory specification. Make sure the parts are well lubricated. It's important to pay attention to factory timing marks/instructions when fitting the timing gears. Improper timing can cause engine failure
  8. Install timing cover
  9. Reinstall the rest of the assembly. It's important to install new accompanying components, such as lifters or rollers, with a new camshaft to prevent uneven wear and future engine problems

What might have caused your camshaft damage in the first place? Read our camshaft failure analysis!


Camshaft Installation Tips

The following are a few things to pay attention to as you install your new camshaft:

  • Be sure to follow manufacturer's instructions for proper torque during install
  • Make sure timing alignment is correct when removing and inserting the camshaft. This will differ between engine models, so be sure to follow factory instructions
  • Be careful not to scratch the bearings when the old camshaft is removed and the new one is inserted
  • Parts should be clean and free of debris to prevent dirt and other matter from entering the engine and causing larger problems

As we mentioned, proper install techniques are vital to the health of your engine. You don't want to cost yourself even more money down the road!


If you're in the market for a new camshaft, we can help you find the perfect one. Or, if you have any questions, give our ASE Certified Techs a call at 844-304-7688, or you can always request a quote online.


Originally Posted October 9, 2018; Edited December 17, 2020