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Guide to Camshaft Replacement Costs

Guide to Camshaft Replacement Cost
Austin Kilham
Austin KilhamUpdated September 15, 2023
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The camshaft in your car is a rotating shaft in the engine that triggers the intake and exhaust valves on each cylinder. This allows the mix of air and fuel to move in and out of the combustion chambers. There may be one camshaft that operates the valves, or it may have two: one to operate the intake valves and one to operate the exhaust valves. The camshaft is crucial to your engine’s ability to operate, so when it wears out or breaks, you’ll have to have it replaced. Unfortunately, that can end up costing you thousands of dollars. Here’s a breakdown of the costs of camshaft replacement, what impacts the cost, and how to pay for a replacement. 

How Much Does a Camshaft Replacement Cost? 

On average, the cost of replacing a camshaft is $2,000 to $3,000, including parts and labor. Cost will vary depending on what type of vehicle you have, labor costs, and whether or not other parts need replacing, too. For example, the camshaft position sensor may need to be replaced, as well. This helps the car’s computer monitor the position of the camshaft and control the opening and closing of the valves. You can expect to pay $200 to $400 if you need to have it replaced. If your car is under warranty or extended car warranty, the cost of replacing your camshaft may be covered. 

What Impacts the Cost of Replacing a Camshaft?

There are many factors that could influence the total cost of replacing a camshaft, including:

Car Make and Model

The make and model of your car will determine what type of engine you have and the parts that need replacing. Generally speaking, common and affordable vehicles may be less expensive to repair than luxury vehicles or cars that have high-performing engines. Recommended: Expensive and Cheap Luxury Cars to Maintain


Labor is one of the biggest costs associated with camshaft replacement because the camshaft is a part of the engine. To replace the camshaft, the mechanic must take the engine apart, replace the camshaft, retime the engine, and put the engine back together. This could take eight hours or more. 

Fixing Other Affected Parts

A failing camshaft can affect other parts of the engine, including the cylinder block, pistons, crankshaft, cylinder head, and valves. If damage has occurred to any of these parts, you may need to replace them, as well. And if the damage is bad enough, you may need to have your entire engine replaced

Number of Camshafts that Need Replacing

Most engines have two camshafts, but your car could have as few as one or as many as eight. You may have to replace more than one at a time, which can increase your cost by both the number of parts and added labor. The good news is it’s less expensive to replace more than one part at a time than it is to replace them separately, since your mechanic will already have your engine taken apart. 

Cost of Parts

The cost of parts can vary widely depending on the make and model of your car and the engine it uses. Parts can range from less than $100 to nearly $2,000. 

Can a Camshaft Be Repaired?

In some cases of low wear, camshafts can be repaired. However, whether or not this is possible will depend on the specific type of engine and camshaft. 

Signs of a Bad Camshaft

If your camshaft is going bad, there are signs you can be on the lookout for. If you notice any of the following happening to your vehicle, take it to the mechanic as soon as you can.

Loud Noises, Tapping, or Knocking

If your camshafts aren’t in the right position or if their bearings have failed, you’ll hear loud sounds, such as knocking and ticking coming from the engine. These sounds will sound like metal striking metal. If you ever hear sounds like this, have it checked out immediately by a trusted mechanic. 

Your Cylinders Are Misfiring

Camshafts are critical to the timing of the intake and exhaust from your cylinders. If that timing becomes off as your camshaft fails, too much air and fuel may get into your cylinders, causing them to misfire. If this is happening, your engine may start stuttering or shaking. 

You See Metal in Your Engine Oil

Bits of metal in your engine oil can suggest that pieces of your engine are grinding against each other. This can be a symptom of a failing camshaft and should be examined by a mechanic. 

Your Car Won’t Start

If your camshaft has failed completely or is out of alignment, your car won’t start. This is because your cylinders aren’t receiving enough air and fuel for them to fire. A car that fails to start could be a sign your camshaft needs to be replaced. 

Can You Replace Your Own Camshaft?

If you’re mechanically inclined, you can replace your own camshaft. Know that it is a big undertaking that can take eight hours or more to complete. Also, be aware that replacing a camshaft almost always requires pulling the engine out of the car. If you are unequipped to do this, you should consider taking your car to your local auto shop. Finally, when you replace your camshaft, you’ll have to retime it. Getting this wrong can cause serious damage to your engine — another reason you may want to leave this project up to a professional. 

Can You Drive With a Bad Camshaft? 

It is not advisable to drive with a bad camshaft. It can cause increased fuel consumption, lower engine performance, and misfiring cylinders. A failing camshaft can also cause other parts of your engine to fail, which can quickly make your problem more costly. 

The Takeaway

Your camshaft is a critical part of your engine, allowing it to send fuel to the cylinders and remove exhaust at the right time. A failing camshaft needs to be replaced to ensure your engine runs smoothly and isn’t damaged further. Unfortunately, replacement can be expensive, costing up to $3,000 depending on the type of vehicle you drive and its engine. You’ll need to find room in your budget to pay for the costs of parts and labor. One option is to refinance your auto loan. An auto loan refinance can be a way to help free up room in your budget. When you refinance a vehicle, you pay off your old loan with a new one, preferably with a lower interest rate. You can put your interest rate savings toward car repair. Alternatively, when you refinance, you can extend your term, which can lower your monthly payment. Be aware that you will pay interest for longer, which can ultimately increase the cost of your loan. You can also consider a cash-out auto loan refinance, which allows you to get cash back from the loan. You can then use the cash to pay for the replacement of the camshaft.If you’re interested in refinancing, consider Lantern by SoFi. Lantern allows you to compare interest rates and terms from top lenders to help ensure you’re getting the best deal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it more expensive to replace a camshaft on a high-performance vehicle?
Can a camshaft replacement be done in one day?
Are there any risks associated with replacing a camshaft?
Can a camshaft replacement increase fuel efficiency?
How often should a camshaft be replaced?
Are there any maintenance tips to prolong the life of a camshaft?
Photo credit: iStock/Andrija Nikolic

About the Author

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham

Austin Kilham is a writer and journalist based in Los Angeles. He focuses on personal finance, retirement, business, and health care with an eye toward helping others understand complex topics.
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