The camshaft adjuster or adjusting unit, which isn't the camshaft aligning tool, is the part of your car that allows camshaft timing adjustment that depends on your engine's individual needs.
This variable valve timing part is found in most new cars for the sake of getting the benefits of a high efficiency engine setting and a high performance engine setting. You can get the best of both worlds by having an engine that can mechanically alter valve timing as needed or on the fly.
If the adjustment is off even slightly, you will experience a "no start" condition, a lack of engine power, or sputtering from your vehicle. When working correctly, the unit guarantees that your engine is running smoothly.
Expectations and Realities
- What the Replacement Unit Should Offer: The camshaft adjuster is a solenoid or magnet that controls one of the most critical engine components you have. It's a plunger that extends to complete a task, which in this case involves activating the electromagnet in order to push a metal rod into the end of a small perforated hydraulic control plunger, which has grooves that are oil-pressurized and raised sealed ridges. When the magnet deactivates, the spring pushes the plunger back, which also adjusts your oil gallery and pressure.
- Fitment and Compatibility Concerns: This solenoid that advances and regresses camshaft timing, adjusts cam gear positioning relative to the camshaft, and changes oil pressure is a very specific part. The Check Engine Light or Error Monitor of your vehicle will be very specific to which magnet is damaged and needs replacement. You might be informed that you're having a "Over-Retarded Timing" or P0015 error on Camshaft Position B. Just provide the code to your mechanic and he'll know which part requires tweaking or outright replacement.
- Buying a Unit and Shifting Prices: You can buy a camshaft adjusting unit secondhand for $49.99. However, you can get a brand new unit for $50.19 or for just a little extra at the time of this writing. You should check the different camshaft offerings instead of going for the first unit you see online. Ditto if you have a sweet deal in a nearby auto shop for your make and model of vehicle. You should get more details on the solenoid you need from the error message of your car and the attending mechanic who recommended the replacement.
- Specs Matter: Know the specs of your camshaft adjusting unit. Your replacement solenoid should have the same capabilities and matching properties as the unit you're replacing. Or it could be an even better version but it should remain compatible with your car. You can get one with a full year warranty or a refurbished OEM part at the fraction of the cost of a brand new one. You should have due diligence when doing your research. Consult a car forum or your mechanic for more details on your camshaft adjusting unit replacement.