Skip the auto shop - Our mechanics make house calls
  1. Home
  2. Articles
  3. Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Camshaft Seal

Symptoms of a Bad or Failing Camshaft Seal

Camshaft Seal

The camshaft seal is a round oil seal located in the cylinder head. It is responsible for sealing the end of the engine’s camshaft or camshafts between the top of the cylinder head and the valve cover gasket. Camshaft seals are usually made of durable rubber materials that allow them to have a long service life. However, over time, these seals can wear out and begin to leak oil. Any sort of engine oil leak is bad for the engine, as the oil is what protects the metal internal components of the engine from friction. Usually, a bad or failing camshaft seal will produce a few symptoms that can notify the driver that a problem has occurred and needs to be serviced.

Visible signs of oil leakage

The most obvious symptom of a problem with the camshaft seal is visible signs of oil leakage. Camshaft seals are usually located on the top of the cylinder head towards the rear of the engine and near the firewall. When they begin to leak, there will usually be traces of oil on the rear of the engine right below the valve cover, which can sometimes flow to the edges or corners of the engine.

Smoke from the engine bay

Another common symptom of a bad camshaft seal is smoke coming from the engine bay. If the oil leaking from a camshaft seal finds its way to a hot exhaust manifold or pipe, it will burn up on contact and produce smoke or produce the odor of smoke. The amount of smoke and intensity of the odor will depend on the severity of the oil leak. Small leaks may produce faint streaks of smoke, while large leaks may produce obvious trails.

A defective camshaft seal may not have an immediate or direct effect on engine performance, however, it can have an effect on reliability - as any oil leak is a compromise to the engine’s lubrication. If your vehicle displays any of the symptoms above, or if you suspect that your camshaft seal may be leaking, have the vehicle inspected by a professional technician, such as one from YourMechanic, to determine if your car needs a camshaft seal replacement.

The statements expressed above are only for informational purposes and should be independently verified. Please see our terms of service for more details
Still not sure about your car's issue?
Diagnose your car
What kind of issue are you experiencing?
Brakes are squeaking
Car is not starting
Car is overheating
Car is shaking (vibrating)
Fluids are leaking
Heating and A/C
Smoke or steam is coming out of the car
Warning light is on
Icon-warranty_badge-02

Skip the repair shop, our top-rated mechanics come to you.

At your home or office

Choose from 600+ repair, maintenance & diagnostic services. Our top-rated mechanics bring all parts & tools to your location.

Fair & transparent pricing

See labor & parts costs upfront, so you can book with confidence.

12-month, 12,000-mile warranty

Our services are backed by a 12-month, 12,000-mile warranty for your peace of mind.

Get A Quote

Need Help With Your Car?

Our certified mobile mechanics make house calls in over 2,000 U.S. cities. Fast, free online quotes for your car repair.

GET A QUOTE

More related articles

Veteran and Military Driver Laws and Benefits in Idaho
The state of Idaho offers a number of benefits and perks for those Americans who have either served in an Armed Forces branch in the...
P2422 OBD-II Trouble Code: Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP) Vent Valve Stuck Closed
Diagnostic Trouble Code (DTC): P2422 P2422 code definition Evaporative Emissions Control System (EVAP)...
P0291OBD-II Trouble Code: Cylinder 11 Injector Circuit Low
P0291 code definition When your vehicle’s PCM registers the P0291 code, it means that a voltage reading came from the fuel injector circuit – for cylinder number 11’s fuel injector –...


Related questions

Q: Car slowly lost power and wouldn't accelerate. Then when I pulled over and it started smoking and now it won't start.

Check the back of the engine by the firewall for any burned wires. It is possible that the harness to the engine has fallen down onto the exhaust manifold and is burning through. The wires may have shorted to the...

Q: Camshaft chain placement?

Hi there. Turn the engine over by hand until the timing marks are aligned up. If they are facing up and the lobes are slightly facing down, then turn the timing chain a little bit until one of the camshaft...

Q: I changed the axles in my car now I am having some transmission fluid leaking out.

There are spring loaded rubber seals that are pressed into a recess on each side of the aluminum differential case and through which the axle shaft rides. These seals must be replaced whenever the axles are replaced, otherwise transmission fluid...