A Comprehensive Ford Cam Phaser Lockout Buyer's Guide
Cam phaser issues are common in Ford 3 valve Triton V8 engines. It’s important to make sure your cam phaser is in working order because failure of this part can lead to serious engine issues.
We're here to help with our comprehensive Ford cam phaser lockout buyer’s guide, which answers how a cam phaser works, whether your cam phaser is failing, and more.
What's a Cam Phaser, and Why Is It Important?
The cam phaser is a sprocket designed to adjust the engine’s timing. Located next to the camshaft inside the timing chain, the cam phaser’s position determines how fast the valves open and close, which plays a big hand in the engine’s overall performance. Working in accordance with the engine torque and oil pressure, the cam phaser turns the camshaft when the torque or oil pressure is high enough.
To learn more about the cam phaser and how it works, see this article: What is a Cam Phaser and Why is it Important?
How Do I Know If My Ford's Cam Phaser Is Failing?
A failing cam phaser can lead to engine problems, so it’s always a good idea to keep an eye out for symptoms of a failing cam phaser. The most common ones are:
- A ticking or knocking noise in the engine
- A rough idle
- Decreased horsepower
- Reduced fuel economy
To learn how to diagnose a failing cam phaser and fix it, see this article: How Do I Know if My Ford’s Cam Phaser is Failing?
Is There An Alternative To Replacing My Cam Phaser?
If you have a Ford 3 valve V8, it's not worthwhile to replace the cam phaser because the OEM design is faulty and bound to fail again within a few years. A full cam phaser replacement can set you back thousands of dollars, so it’s quite a hefty investment for something that’s only going to break in the near future. You’d be better off just locking your cam phaser in place with a cam phaser lockout kit. It’s a great alternative because 1) it’s much cheaper than a full cam phaser replacement and 2) it’s a permanent solution so you don’t have to worry about your cam phaser failing again.
To learn more about locking your cam phaser in place, see this article: Is There an Alternative to Replacing My Cam Phaser?
How Does a Cam Phaser Lockout Kit Work?
A cam phaser lockout kit contains a small metal block and optional add-ons like cam phaser bolts, a programmer, and a timing chain wedge tool. The cam phaser has an empty space between the cam gear and the vane, and inserting the metal block into that space will lock the cams in the advanced timing position. You can use an engine tuner to program your engine to ignore the cam phaser’s locked position (thus preventing the “check engine” from coming on).
To read more about how a cam phaser lockout kit works, see this article: How Does a Cam Phaser Lockout Kit Work?
Is A Tune Required If You Install A Cam Phaser Lockout?
No, it’s not necessary to tune your ECU after you lock your cam phaser into place, but it’s highly recommended. Installing a cam phaser lockout may throw the communication between the cam phaser and your ECU out of whack. This could lead to your truck going into limp mode (which drastically reduces its performance).
If you’re wondering how to tune your ECU, see this article: Is a Tuner Required When You Install a Cam Phaser Lockout?
Does Locking Out the Cam Phaser Cause Engine Damage?
We have good news: locking out the cam phaser into the advanced timing position does not damage the engine in any way. Doing so actually prevents any further engine issues because it’s a permanent solution. You will not have to worry about a cam phaser breaking again and damaging the engine even more.
To read more about how a cam phaser lockout doesn’t damage the engine, but actually benefits it, see this article: Does Locking Out the Cam Phaser Cause Engine Damage?
Do Ford Cam Phaser Lockout Kits Really Work?
The process is quite straightforward: take the milled metal block included with the kit and then insert it between the vanes to lock the cam phaser in place. If your kit includes a programmer too, use it to tune the ECU to ensure optimal performance after the cam phaser is locked into the advanced timing position.
To learn more about how a cam phaser lockout kit works, see this article: Do Ford Cam Phaser Lockout Kits Really Work?
What’s the Difference Between a Cam Phaser Lockout and a Cam Phaser Limiter?
It’s a common misconception that a cam phaser lockout serves the same purpose as a cam phaser limiter. It’s actually not the case. These two parts, although they function similarly, serve completely different purposes and cannot be used interchangeably. A cam phaser lockout is designed to permanently fix a broken cam phaser. A cam phaser limiter is designed to optimize camshaft timing to increase the vehicle’s performance and fuel economy.
To read more about how each part works and how they differ from each other, see this article: The Difference Between a Cam Phaser Lockout and a Cam Phaser Limiter
What are the Pros and Cons of a Ford Cam Phaser Lockout?
Locking out your cam phaser has advantages and disadvantages. The pros include:
- No more tapping/knocking noise
- No further engine damage
The disadvantages are:
- Slightly decreased fuel economy
- Illumination of the check engine light (but this can be solved by tuning your ECU after installing a cam phaser lockout kit)
To learn about each pro and con in more detail, see this article: The Pros and Cons of Installing a Cam Phaser Lockout Kit on Your Ford