Upgrading a vehicle’s camshaft and lifters can be a great way to fine-tune engine performance, especially if you are looking for more power and faster acceleration. There are a lot of variables to consider before you place an order for a cam and lifter kit, though. Weighing them carefully will help you find the kit that will work best for your vehicle.
1. Engine Type and Size
Changing up the shape of your cam or even opting for a different size can help make gains toward your goals for power, top speed, or acceleration. There are physical limits, though, to the cam upgrades a given engine can take.
If you know the exact size of your engine in cubic inches and its type, then you can find the cam upgrade that fits your build. This is especially important if you have a crate engine or modifications that diverge greatly from your vehicle’s stock setup.
2. Engine Compression Ratio
Your engine’s ideal compression ratio also affects the appropriate range of cam upgrades you have to choose from. Since changing the shape and size of the cam changes the amount of time valves spend open and closed during a cycle, it will affect your engine compression ratio to one degree or another, and understanding that effect is one of the important factors in making a choice that achieves your goals.
3. Induction System
The way you bring air and fuel into the engine also matters a great deal. Running an EFI with several sensors and a control module that requires a wiring diagram to install is very different from running a performance carburetor with a steady fuel/air mixture. On top of the induction type having a big effect, the performance of that system is also important.
The key item to remember through all these considerations is the fact that vehicle upgrades are not isolated. You are aiming to combine the best upgrades to your fuel and air cycle, combustion cycle, power control, and handling. That means a change to something like the camshaft will be defined by the changes you have already made to the vehicle, and future upgrades will need similar considerations.
4. Type of Cylinder Heads
The shape of the cylinder head affects valve clearance and timing just as much as the other factors listed, so to make sure your cam upgrade still gives you the right clearance, you need to know both the type of cylinder heads in your engine and the effect that type has on clearance calculations. There are a few rule of thumb guides out there, but the best results will come from a thorough and specific calculation.
5. Vehicle Use
The best performance upgrade you can get will always be the one that best supports your main use for the vehicle. You don’t want to go upgrading to drag slicks if your main goal is time on an oval track, so why would you use the same cam and lifter kit for both goals?
Each cam upgrade you could make will change some features of your performance in ways that distinctly advantage specific competitive activities. Match your upgrade’s performance features to your use case to make the best choice for your car. Start the search today.