What Are Cam Phasers? – Fuel Efficiency

Cam Phasers

Thanks to today’ advanced knowledge on maintaining and operating motor engines, many modern vehicles have camshafts – reduce the amount of energy/fuel consumed to turn over an engine.

Unless you know A LOT about engines that should sound a little complicated so let us try an alternative approach. The innovative cam phaser technology was introduced to modern motor/engine engineering almost a decade ago by Ford motors.

This improved gear transmission technology aims to improve fuel efficiency, reduce emissions and improve optimum engine performance.

Variable camshaft Timing

To begin with we will assume we are talking about something easy say roasting steak. Shifting the transmission on an automatic vehicle often more difficult and slightly less fuel efficient in comparison to vehicles fitted with manual gear transmission systems.

The reason for the above statement is clear, in manual transmission vehicles the driver intuitively switches gears – based on sound of RPM or the vehicles response to acceleration (engine load).

In the absence of cam phasing systems the engine will push a little harder before switching the gear – in the process using fuel/energy to turn over the engine.

In an auto transmission vehicle, the absence of a clutch suggests the need for some mechanism to free the engine and turn over while gears are switched.

Ti – VCT Camshaft Timing And Positioning

You may be familiar with DOHC (Double Overhead Cam) engines or twin cam engines common in GT vehicles.

FORD Cam Phaser

These high performance engines have two cam-phasers installed:

1. Front Cam Phaser

Front Cam Phaser

All Cam-phasers installed on vehicles are computer operated and the front cam-phaser is used to improve performance – more specifically avoid loss of power and torque.

These computer controlled front cam-phasers will receive signals based on RPM or engine load and switch/rotate the positioning of intake valves in advance to match engine conditions before the camshaft position changes.

The front cam-phaser is especially useful in maintaining power and fuel efficiency when running at low speeds.

2. Rear/Exhaust Cam Phaser

Rear/Exhaust Cam Phaser

The rear cam-phaser is installed to improve the quality of emissions from the engine. In many engines that do not have an exhaust cam-phaser – exhaust air is recirculated to dilute the pollutants contained and improve the quality of emissions from the exhaust.

In an advanced DOHC engine recirculation is not necessary given the advanced shifting of outlet valves achieves the standards required for safe emissions.

These engines will always switch gears before the max RPM for any gear or engine load ensuring the smoke emitted is comparatively safe regardless of speed, load, slope etc.

The Role Of The Crankshaft – What Are Cam Phasers?


The crankshaft is the most important component in an engine especially in relation to the camshaft. Motor vehicle engines are powered by piston activity in the engine – each gear change causes this motion to either pick up or lower the pace.

When the load is high or the vehicle is accelerating the camshaft will drive the pistons to produce more power rotating the wheels faster.

This innovative cam-phaser technology plays a very pivotal role in allowing the crankshaft and the engines of these advanced vehicles.

When in operation the vehicle will maintain the desired engine pressure/power (within the engine block) facilitating a smooth change/shift in the transmission system and minimal power loss in the process.

At the same time this smooth transition from one phase to the next ensures friction within the engine block is moderate leading to safer gaseous emission.

Prevalent Issues With Ford Cylinder Heads

Necessity is the mother of invention

With each new engine or component technology engines improve and performance is enhanced. As each new engine begins its journeys – an entirely new set of issues also arise or emanate.

In contrast to the above saying we can suggest, with each step comes some form of success/achievement – and each achievement opens the door to new challenges.

There is no end to innovation given that innovation itself is the birth of something entirely unknown. Likewise Ford’s innovative cam phaser technology was in attempts to solve specific issues with prior models cylinder head performance.

Based on information from various auto shops 2005-08, the most common reason Ford vehicles would end up in the repair shop could be traced to loose cylinder heads. Owing to this many of these vehicle owners would report rough running engines and noise – owing to this component malfunction.

Loose cylinder heads are no minor issue given that when the engine runs with this issue unresolved the engine sustains damage – eventually prompting replacement of an entire cylinder head.

What Are Cam Phasers? – Causes of Failure Using Cam Phaser Technology

Via Ford-trucks.com

As mentioned above with each innovation we open doors to an entirely new set of challenges. Below are some reasons that could contribute to cam phaser technology phaser – highlighting what you need to keep an eye on:

1. Oil Viscosity:

It is good to have a clear position/understanding of some aspects that keep your systems running at all times. The recommended oil for your vehicle must always be used and maintained at optimum levels.

Your engine is operating at very high temperature/pressure and the oil facilitates efficient operation and reduces friction. Use the right oil.

2. Electrical Problems

The cam-phaser is powered/controlled by a computer chip in the vehicle electric control unit/panel. The wiring has to be in place and fully functional for proper operation – any electrical failures are the equivalent of a cam-phaser failure.

3. Physical Wear Or Damage

Given this component is the key to smooth transmission – it probably works through shifts. Any damage in the housing unit or damaged return spring could render this useful component - out of service.

4. Low Oil pressure

Worn out oil pump could cause problems owing to inadequate or poorly timed delivery of oil to the cam phaser.

5. Debris, Sludge Or Varnish Deposits

Any issue that could disrupt the flow of oil to inlet screens or clog the screens themselves – the most plausible cause of clogging would be using the wrong oil (low viscosity).


Every driver loves sitting behind the wheels of a smooth running engine. Having this and fuel efficiency is one of the reasons Ford introduced cam phasing into their engines.

With over a decade’s use of the technology in their vehicles, it is no wonder Ford has somewhat managed to make in roads and compete with other manufacturers today.

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