Whether you’re a new car enthusiast or a seasoned car guy, chances are that you’ve heard of horsepower. But how much horsepower does a camshaft add?
When it comes to your engine’s performance, the camshaft is probably one of the most underrated components. A lot of people don’t even know what this part is, and they probably couldn’t tell you how it works in your engine.
Luckily for you, we’re going to show you what a camshaft does in your engine and help you understand exactly how much horsepower a camshaft adds!
Let’s get to it!
What Is a Camshaft?
Before we can go over how much horsepower a camshaft adds, you first have to know what it is. A camshaft is an essential part of your car’s engine that controls the timing and lift of the valves as well as intake and exhaust.
Some people think that a camshaft is an engine’s heart. They’re not wrong, but it’s also the brain and lungs as well! A camshaft controls how air and fuel flow into your engine, which determines how much power you can get out of it. That means that if your cam timing is off, you could be losing up to 30% of your horsepower!
Camshafts come in several varieties, depending on the type of engine you have. Our engines typically use either a solid or hydraulic-type camshaft that operates via lobes (or cams), which are driven by the crankshaft. There is also another type of camshaft called an overhead camshaft, but we aren’t going to go over this one in our article.
It is the oil and gas mixture that is drawn up by the cam lobe which pressurizes and acts on a valve stem to open the valve and allow the engine to run. It’s not just gasoline that powers an engine, it is the pressure created by the mixture which is transferred to different parts of the engine.
What Does a Camshaft Do?
To understand how much horsepower does a camshaft adds, you have to know what it actually controls.
First and most important, the camshaft controls when all of your car’s cylinders are able to fire. It opens and closes the intake and exhaust valves at just the right time so that your car’s pistons are able to move up and down freely.
The camshaft is also what controls how much airflow gets into your engine (hence why it is so important to get a high-quality performance cam). How hard your engine pulls in air is measured in cubic feet per minute (cfm). The cams are able to control how much air your engine can pull into it by changing the compression ratio. This changes how many times a piston will compress the mixture before combustion. A higher compression ratio means that your car is going to have a lot of horsepower!
Lastly, the camshaft is what controls how much your engine’s valves are opening and closing. The cams push the valve open by rotating to one side, or by using a plunger inside of it. The higher the cam lifts, the more horsepower you get out of your engine!
How Much Horsepower Does a Camshaft Add?
Now that you know what a camshaft is and how it works, let’s figure out how much horsepower does a camshaft add.
The answer to this question is not as simple as it seems. A camshaft can add anywhere from 10-30 horsepower depending on the type of camshaft and what engine it is installed in.
A camshaft can make or break your engine’s performance. A performance cam will provide your car with more horsepower, better throttle response, and usually even save you on gas mileage. To get the most horsepower out of a camshaft, you have to find one that’s designed for your specific engine.
When looking for a performance camshaft, you want to pay attention to two things: duration and lift. These two elements of a camshaft are what will determine how much horsepower and torque you’re going to get out of your engine.
Duration refers to the number of degrees that a valve stays open, and lift refers to how much it is raised off the base circle (or lobe). These two measurements work together because duration determines when the valve opens and lift is what causes it actually rise up, which in turn opens the valve. You can create a graph of lift on one axis and duration on another to better understand how the camshaft works.
There is an ideal “sweet spot” in all engines where you get maximum horsepower, but this may require quite a bit of experimenting on your end. For example, if your engine is designed for performance use and you install a cam with too little lift and duration, it will end up using more gas because less air will be entering your engine.
You may want to take your car to an expert if you don’t know what exactly you need or would like to experiment on how much horsepower does a camshaft add, as this is an incredibly important part of your engine.
Horsepower Ratings and What They Mean
Now that you know how much horsepower does a camshaft add, it’s time to talk about what these numbers actually mean. Horsepower ratings refer to the power of your car’s engine while it is running at its maximum capacity.
So what does this mean for cars? It really depends on the power of your car’s engine. For most cars, horsepower is measured at the crankshaft (where the pistons connect). This means that you are measuring all of the potential energy that your engine can produce versus how much it’s using in real-time to push against air and inertia when your car is moving.
Of course, if you’re not measuring horsepower from the crankshaft, there are other ways to measure it. For example, a dyno test will give you a more accurate reading of your car’s horsepower by pushing all of the air out of the cylinders and then measuring how much power is created when the engine compresses that air again. This can be done through a “dyno pull” where the engine is placed on a machine and revved for a set amount of time (depending on how much horsepower you want to measure). You can also use a dynamometer, which is connected directly to the wheels instead of the crankshaft.
Why Is Horsepower Rating So Important?
A horsepower rating is important because it will tell you how much torque and power you can get from your engine. In turn, this also tells you how many miles per hour you’ll be able to drive in a certain amount of time. It can even determine whether or not your car seems sluggish or lethargic.
There is so much to talk about when it comes to this topic so we will cover it in another article.
How do Camshafts and Crankshafts work together?
The camshaft sits inside the engine block. It has holes for oil to flow through so that the lobes can stay lubricated. The camshaft turns once for every two rotations of the crankshaft because there are two lobes per cylinder on a four-stroke cycle.
When the piston reaches top dead center (TDC), it pushes the intake valve down and opens up a passage for fuel and air to flow into the cylinder. The camshaft has to move while the piston is at TDC, which results in lower efficiency. The majority of engines today do not use overhead cams (OHC).
As the air and fuel mixture flows through the open intake valve, a vacuum is created and the spring-loaded exhaust valve opens up. The air/fuel mixture flows into the cylinder through the open intake valve and then it’s compressed by the upward motion of the piston. Then, fuel is injected into that compressed mixture and an electric spark ignites it (spark plugs). This creates combustion.
As the piston goes back down, it pushes out the burned mixture through the open exhaust valve. The camshaft uses a timing belt or gear to keep everything in sync so that valves are opening and closing at the right time.
Different Ways to Increase Horsepower Ratings
The best way to increase horsepower ratings is by increasing the compression ratio of your engine. This means that it squeezes the air/fuel mixture tighter so there are more atoms per cubic centimeter. The standard compression ratio for most engines is about 8:1, which isn’t very good if you’re looking to give your car a boost.
There are many different ways to increase the compression ratio of your engine, including making the combustion chamber smaller (this is called “porting”), using higher octane fuels or even switching to alternative fuels like propane or natural gas.
Use high-octane gasoline because it has additives that can create more efficient fuel combustion. It starts out as regular gasoline, but the refinery adds more complex molecules to it so that it can handle higher compression ratios.
Use turbochargers or superchargers to increase airflow. Turbochargers are powered by exhaust gases while superchargers are powered mechanically. Both of these devices force more air into the cylinder by creating a vacuum. This creates more power and a higher horsepower rating.
Limit the amount of engine friction by reducing power loss through the bearings, pistons, and crankshaft. The lower these losses are, the more power you will get from your engine. You can do this by adding better lubricants or changing up your oil to one that’s thicker (or thinner). Don’t forget to change your oil every 3,000 miles or so.
The camshaft is attached by bearings at the top and bottom to keep it spinning smoothly so that it opens the valves at exactly the right time. If they are worn out, you will lose power because your engine has a lower compression ratio and no one wants to open up the throttle on a sluggish engine.
If your valves are misaligned or if your valve springs are no longer able to keep the camshaft raised, you will not be able to open up the intake and exhaust valves at exactly the right time. This is why it’s important to brush up on your car maintenance so you don’t have any issues down the road.
Now that you know how much horsepower a camshaft can add, why people use them and what they do, you should check out your own engine to see if the bearings and valves need work. If so, now is the perfect time to find a mechanic and get it taken care of!
Thank you for making it all the way to the end of this article! We hope that you learned a little bit about how camshafts work and why horsepower is so important. Don’t forget to check back here or subscribe to our newsletter for more articles in the future!