Camshaft Break In Tips


Camshaft break-in is a hot topic, mainly because a lot of folks have done it wrong. It’s a critical part of new engine start-up procedure, or even just a camshaft upgrade. To make sure your camshaft survives the stress of the first few minutes of run time, check out these tips and put them to use on your new build.

The reason for the increase in camshaft failures is largely due to modern oils. Most new oils that you get from the parts store do not have the appropriate amounts of ZDDP (zinc dialkyl dithio phosphate)…we usually just refer to it as zinc. Lately, companies, such as Comp Cams and Champion Oil have introduced specific oils that feature high zinc levels, making them perfect for engine break-in as well as long-term use. You can choose between break-in lubricant, high zinc oil or break-in oil additive…or you can use a mixture of the three to make sure your lubrication is up to the task. Find out how to get high zinc oils and additives here!


Other ways that some engine builders prevent camshaft failure is to use a less aggressive rocker arm ratio, such as a 1.3:1. You can also run a lighter valve spring to help alleviate some of the pressure off the lifters and camshaft lobes.

As far as the actual break-in procedure, you’ll want to make sure your engine is absolutely ready to run for at least 20 minutes. Have plenty of fuel in the tank, and go ahead and prime your carburetor and get a safe baseline on the timing adjustment before firing the engine. It’s also a good idea to pre-lube the engine’s oiling system, with a drill and an extended oil pump driveshaft. Many companies make special tools specifically for the pre-lube process.

Finally, you can crank the engine! As soon as it comes to life, bring it up to 2,000 rpm, and hold it there. Alternate between 2,000 rpm and 2,500 rpm to allow the oil to sling into different areas. Do this for 20 minutes. After approximately 50 miles of moderate street driving, change the oil and the oil filter. From there, you should be good to go!

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