How to Identify Unknown Camshaft in 2022 (3 Best Methods)

How to Identify Unknown Camshaft

Your camshaft is important; your engine isn’t meaningful without the contribution of the Camshaft. A camshaft is a rotating object in a vehicle with pointed cams in which its rotations produce reciprocal motion. We have it in internal combustion engines and some electric motor speed controllers.

Are you a newbie in dealing with cars and you seem not to know how useful a camshaft is and what is used for? Every engine needs a timing device that can control the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. The engine needs to function by opening the valve with the help of the camshaft.

The best way to identify an unknown camshaft is by identifying it with your eye or using stamped numbers engraved on the camshaft to identify it. You can also use an analog system to identify unknown camshafts.

Are Camshafts Stamped?

Camshafts are stamped by the manufacturers as a means of identification. A stamp is not a functioning part of a camshaft. It is a mode of identification used by manufacturers.

The numbers engraved in the body part of the camshaft are called the Stamped number or casting number. The numbers are just figures a manufacturer uses to identify their products and to track them sometimes. It doesn’t add to the function of the camshaft, nor does it play an important role.

You can basically find it in the center of the cam between the lobes. It is 8 figured random numbers and sometimes 9 figures with the last 4 numbers identifying the specific function of the Cam Shaft.

How to Identify Unknown Camshaft

You need the best camshaft that works well with your vehicle. Getting a camshaft can be a burden on many car owners; it works well when you have the right one. You can make a sure bet by just selecting randomly but your engine life will be in big problem.

There are 3 different ways to select your camshaft tightly. They include:

  • Identifying with your eye
  • Using stamped numbers and
  • Analog system

The essence of knowing how to identify your camshaft makes it easy to avoid errors, unnecessary bills, and frustrations that come along with having the wrong camshaft.

Method One: Your Eye Can Do the Magic

There are two types of cams that you can tell the difference without using a lens or going the extra mile to tell the difference. Their outer look tells the difference. They are the flat tappet and roller camshaft.

Flat Tappet Camshafts

To be sincere, flat tappet just owns the name flat. They are not flat, and they are recognized with a slight crown on the face. They are widely used and they perform well, which is more affordable than a roller cam. It has a taper inside the lobe which ensures the lifter can spin.

Roller Camshaft

A roller camshaft has its wheel attached to the bottom of the lifter’s body. They don’t own the name flat, but the lobes of roller camshafts are perfectly flat.

To avoid spinning, roller lifters are lifted together. They minimize friction, which ensures the camshaft contains more power.

A roller camshaft has the valve opened faster and remains at a higher lift for a certain time; it allows more airflow and more power, which reduces wear. There are other camshafts that can be viewed in this category, they include:


SOHC means simple overhead cam. They are not so much of the speeding type. They provide average torque to the valves. A SOHC allows at least 2 to 3 valves per cylinder configuration, with more manufacturer prowess. Four or six-cylinder can be attached to the valves.


DOHC is a production to improve the volumetric of the internal combustion engine in which it has more power than a simple overhead cam. A DOHC is known as a dual overhead cam.

This type allows more direct airflow through the engine without having to deal with obstruction. Speed isn’t a problem with a dual camshaft and it increases the engine’s power.


They appear to be a rock arms with a small diameter. The pushrods cam stays above the cylinder, which is always above the combustion chamber.

A pushrod is a metal tube constructed to transfer the valve motion of a lifter riding on the camshaft directly to the value.

Method 2: You can Identify with Stamp Numbers

Stamp numbers are engraved by the manufacturers to monitor production and distribution. The easiest way to get the best is to check the numbers in between the lobes or boxes. It is an eight or nine-digit number.

These numbers only describe the functions or tell the specifics of each product. They don’t add to the function of the camshaft itself.

There following are ways you can tell a difference:

Model Prefix

As the name implies, these sets of numbers reveal the model of the camshaft. It helps you know the compatibility of the camshaft to the supposed vehicle you want to use it for.

Grind Number

Knowing the measurement of a lobe separation angle is another special way of telling the difference between camshafts. The grind number is the ever noted number, far and more recognized than the model number.

For instance, if you have numbers like 266H04, the last two digits are the numbers used to show the measurement of the lobes.

Each number has a meaning and an interpretation. The first three-digit number shows the average duration time of the lobes. It means the valve is open at 255 degrees.

Exhaust Number

The exhaust number also comes through some time, maybe if you see digits like 266/288; the second shows the exhaust number.

Method 3: Using an Analog System

This method requires you to do a few tasks like measuring some diameters and comparing them to the database. This sometimes is tagged stressing when you can just tell by looking at numbers, but in the absence of a degree when or dial indicator, an analog is required to make your best decision.

You need the measurement of the diameter to compare with the database or any online store IDs. This will help you get the full details directly from the manufacturing, which requires the model and other factors that need attention.

However, remember what to do after replacing your camshaft sensor in your car to avoid another frustration.

Final Thought

Information is premium and can save you from errors and spending excessively. A good camshaft cannot be underrated, so you need it to make your engine function well. A good understanding of these factors will assist you in making a wise decision.