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Cams, Timing & Valvetrain

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Cams, Timing & Valvetrain

The valvetrain in your Jeep is a group of components that are designed to open and close exhaust and intake valves. Some Jeeps have them located as overhead assemblies, while others have them located lower in the engine (using push rods to move the valve assemblies). The camshaft (called the cam) controls the valve opening through a set of lobes located on the shaft. Within the valvetrain assembly, the camshaft is turned by a timing belt, or sometimes a timing chain. To get your engine to fire, the timing chain has to rotate through the gears smoothly. Working a lot like a bicycle’s chain, the links move on the ends of the crankshaft to open and close the valves on a cylinder head, which moves pistons and rods in the combustion chamber. The important thing to know, here, is that if the timing belt is off, it can cause the cam and valvetrain to work less efficiently.

Timing chains or belts are installed as standard on Wranglers, and some of the early signs that it may be going bad is the engine misfiring, rattling sounds from the engine while sitting in idle, or metal shavings visible in the oil. If that chain breaks, and you are driving your Jeep at the time, serious damage can be done to your engine. To avoid this, it is recommended that you have your timing chain inspected routinely. This is particularly true if you’ve begun taking to off-road adventures without doing any modifications.

Quality OEM parts should only be used when replacing the valvetrain and internal components because they are performance matched with the existing cylinder heads and assemblies. Replacing with original Jeep parts will provide maximum torque from low to mid-range Wranglers, especially in those who have a 4.0L. Using OEM parts will improve throttle response, and even offer some power gains if your timing belt or chain was really worn.