How Much Does It Cost to Cam a Car, A Comprehensive Guide

How much does it cost to cam a car? It’s a question that plagues many car enthusiasts, especially those looking to boost their engine’s performance. The answer, unfortunately, is not as straightforward as one might hope. The cost of camming a car can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the type of camshaft, the engine size, and the labor rates in your area.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll delve into the details of camming a car, exploring the cost factors, performance gains, and other considerations to help you make an informed decision.

Whether you’re a seasoned mechanic or a novice gearhead, this guide will provide you with the knowledge and insights you need to tackle this project with confidence.

Cost Factors to Consider

The cost of camming a car can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the size of the engine, the type of camshaft used, and the labor rates charged by the mechanic.

Engine size is a major factor in determining the cost of camming, as larger engines require more labor to disassemble and reassemble. The type of camshaft also affects the cost, as high-performance camshafts are typically more expensive than stock camshafts.

Labor Rates

Labor rates can also vary significantly from one mechanic to another, so it’s important to get quotes from several different shops before making a decision. In general, the cost of labor will be higher in areas with a high cost of living.

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Average Cost Range

The cost of camming a car varies depending on the complexity of the job and the location of the mechanic. A basic cam swap, which involves replacing the stock camshaft with a new one, typically costs between $500 and $1,000. More extensive upgrades, such as those that involve replacing the lifters, pushrods, and valve springs, can cost upwards of $2,000.

Regional Variations

The cost of camming a car can also vary depending on the region of the country. In areas with a high cost of living, such as New York City or San Francisco, the cost of labor will be higher than in areas with a lower cost of living, such as rural Kansas or Mississippi.

DIY vs. Professional Installation

Camming a car can be a rewarding project, but it’s important to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of DIY versus professional installation before getting started.

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Installing a camshaft yourself can save you money on labor costs, but it’s important to have the necessary skills and tools to do the job properly. If you’re not comfortable working on your car, or if you don’t have the necessary tools, it’s best to leave the installation to a professional.

Cost Implications

The cost of camming a car will vary depending on whether you do it yourself or hire a professional. If you do it yourself, you’ll only need to pay for the camshaft and the necessary tools. If you hire a professional, you’ll also need to pay for labor costs.

The average cost of a camshaft is between $200 and $500. The average cost of labor to install a camshaft is between $400 and $800.

When to DIY

DIY camshaft installation is only appropriate if you have the necessary skills and tools. If you’re not comfortable working on your car, or if you don’t have the necessary tools, it’s best to leave the installation to a professional.

Necessary Tools and Equipment, How much does it cost to cam a car

If you’re planning to install a camshaft yourself, you’ll need the following tools and equipment:

  • Camshaft installation kit
  • Torque wrench
  • Socket set
  • Wrench set
  • Pliers
  • Screwdriver set
  • Hammer
  • Punch
  • Safety glasses
  • Gloves

Performance Gains and Considerations: How Much Does It Cost To Cam A Car

Camming a car involves replacing the stock camshaft with an aftermarket one, resulting in significant performance gains. However, it’s crucial to understand the trade-offs associated with different camshaft profiles.

Generally, a camshaft with a higher lift and duration will increase horsepower and torque, particularly at higher RPMs. However, this can come at the expense of low-end torque and fuel efficiency.

Impact on Horsepower

  • Higher lift and duration camshafts allow for more air and fuel to enter the combustion chamber, resulting in increased horsepower.
  • However, excessive lift and duration can lead to valve float, where the valves don’t close properly at high RPMs, reducing horsepower.

Impact on Torque

  • Camshafts with a wider lobe separation angle (LSA) promote low-end torque, while narrower LSAs favor high-end torque.
  • Increasing the camshaft duration can enhance torque throughout the RPM range, but excessive duration can reduce low-end torque.

Impact on Fuel Efficiency

  • Higher lift and duration camshafts can decrease fuel efficiency, especially at low RPMs, due to increased airflow and reduced vacuum.
  • Camshafts with variable valve timing (VVT) can help optimize fuel efficiency by adjusting cam timing based on engine conditions.

Other Considerations

Beyond the direct costs of camming, several additional expenses may arise during the process. These considerations can significantly impact the overall budget and should be carefully evaluated before embarking on the project.

The most significant additional cost is the need for tuning and dyno testing. After installing new camshafts, the engine’s air/fuel ratio and ignition timing must be adjusted to optimize performance and prevent engine damage. This process requires specialized equipment and expertise, typically provided by a professional tuner.

Dyno Testing

Dyno testing is highly recommended to verify the engine’s performance after camming. It involves placing the vehicle on a dynamometer, a machine that measures horsepower and torque output. Dyno testing can identify any issues with the camshaft installation or tuning and ensure that the engine is operating as intended.

Potential Upgrades

Depending on the specific camshaft profile and engine setup, additional upgrades may be necessary to fully realize the performance potential. These upgrades can include new valve springs, pushrods, and lifters. The need for these components should be determined by a qualified mechanic or tuner based on the specific engine and camshaft combination.

Warranties and Insurance

It’s important to consider the impact of camming on vehicle warranties and insurance policies. Some manufacturers may void the warranty on certain engine components if aftermarket camshafts are installed. Additionally, insurance companies may adjust premiums based on modifications that alter the vehicle’s performance.

Last Point

Ultimately, the decision of whether or not to cam your car is a personal one. If you’re looking for a significant performance boost and are willing to invest in the necessary parts and labor, then camming your car could be a worthwhile investment.

However, if you’re on a tight budget or are hesitant about making major modifications to your engine, then you may want to consider other options for improving your car’s performance.

FAQ Overview

What is the average cost of camming a car?

The average cost of camming a car ranges from $1,000 to $3,000, depending on the factors discussed in this guide.

Can I cam my car myself?

Yes, it is possible to cam your car yourself, but it is not recommended unless you have the necessary experience and tools. Camming a car requires specialized knowledge and precision, and any mistakes could result in costly damage to your engine.

What are the performance benefits of camming a car?

Camming a car can improve horsepower, torque, and fuel efficiency. However, the specific benefits will vary depending on the type of camshaft you choose and the other modifications you make to your engine.

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About the Author: Jason