April 1

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair



Mark: Hi, it's Mark from TLR. I'm here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver's best auto service experience. 23 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. And we're talking cars. How are you doing Bernie? 

Bernie: Doing very well, but I just noted you've rebranded yourself since we last talked.

Mark: It's easier to say TLR, that's it.. 

Bernie: It is, sounds awesome. So yes, we're talking cars. We're talking trucks. 

Mark: Trucks. Yes. 2015 Dodge Ram Hemi that had an issue with its camshaft. What was going on with this vehicle? 

Bernie: So the vehicle came to our shop. The the owner had stated that they'd taken their vehicle to another shop and were told they needed to replace the engine. The engine out of misfire. We performed some diagnosis, did some testing and we found that was in fact the case. There was a misfire in the engine. 

 Mark: What diagnosis and testing did you actually do? 

Bernie: So you know, our basic procedures of course, to run the engine, verify the concern. We could definitely feel the engine wasn't running properly, connected some diagnostic scan tool equipment, test for codes, look at the computer data. It was pretty apparent. There was a misfire, I believe it was number three cylinder, pretty apparent. So from there we, you know, inspected the spark plugs, compression test on the engine. Compression was good.

 We inspected the fuel injectors made sure there wasn't anything else that was missed. Cause there's a number of things that could be. From there, it was basically remove the valve cover and see if the valves were opening. We know cam shafts you know, worn cam shafts are a common problem and verified the intake. The intake rocker on that cylinder was basically not moving at all or barely moving when the engine was cranked over. So problem found. From there as a matter of removing the engine, not replacing the engine but just repairing it. 

Mark: So how many kilometres are on this truck? 

Bernie: 128,000. Really not much, still a youngster. 

Mark: So I'm assuming that it's the cam shaft that's worn out and the lifters. 

Bernie: Cam and lifters, yep.

Mark: So why would it wear out so fast at this small amount of kilometrage? 

Bernie: Well, I did a little research into it because if you look at our podcast history, you'll see that we actually did one of these a couple of years ago on a Jeep 5.7 litre Hemi. And it's an exceptionally common problem on these engines.

 From what I could determine, I mean, bad maintenance is always something that I think can be an issue. And we look at some pictures in a minute, I'll show you just kind of an example of it. It's not that we found the oil was particularly bad on this engine. They may have done okay maintenance on it, but the service intervals are pretty long. The recommended Dodge interval was like 13,000 kilometres. It's synthetic oil, but you know, my mind I'm just way too long to go. The other feedback I got is it's possible that just idling these engines, the camshafts just don't get quite enough lubrication that the cam and lifter area, the cam are lubricated by splash  from the crank case.

And it's possible that, you know, it just doesn't get quite enough lubrication when the engines idling is not enough oil splashing around. So either way, whatever happens, you know, that these items do tend to fail. And now it could be bad materials too. It's kind of hard to know, but mean, that does happen from time to time to that where they just don't make the material is sufficient. So I guess what I'm saying, I don't really have a super definitive answer, but you know, obviously changing your oil on a regular basis, sooner than recommended is a good idea. 

So pictures. There's the side of our truck Ram 2,500 heavy duty 5.7 litre, very common engine package in this vehicle.

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair

And let's have a look at a few items here. So speaking of bad maintenance. This is the air filter we pulled out of this vehicle. I don't have a new sample, but it's basically supposed to be absolutely snow white and colour. And this thing is, is, is among the blackest dirtiest air filters we've ever seen. Now, a bad air filter isn't likely going to cause the cam to wear out, but is an indication of how well was this vehicle maintained. And I'd say that there was definitely some missing maintenance along the way. 

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair
2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair

Okay. The cam shaft. There's a couple of lobes with some, this is some bad wear, but this, this isn't that really bad lobe. But a number of them were badly worn. Where's our really bad one, there's the bad one. I mean that that lobe is completely worn off. You can see it's kind of an egg shaped item. Well, the egginess has completely gone here and what happens is the lifter, these are roller lifters, they have like a roller bearing.

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair
2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair

They roll on the cam shaft for low friction, but over time, the roller bearings fail or something happens and it just ends up grinding the cam lobe down. We'll have a look at the cam lifters. Here we go. There's the lifters. There's a used lifter, but this one is in pretty good shape.

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair

This is the bad one from that cam lobe. Now you can see how the metal is just ground down, completely here. And if you look here, you see how much higher this roller sits. This was completely seized, but inside there's a little roller bearing. So it rolls and as I say it's a very low friction item, but all it takes is that roller bearing to skip a few times or wear out and then it'll disintegrate and start, you know, riding on the cam shaft in a funny way. Grinding it up and it just becomes a disaster from there. 

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair

There's the new camshaft and you can see the lobes are nicely shaped. Everything's clean. This area here, this engine has variable valve timing, it's something they introduced I believe it's around the 2009 model year. So these oil passage ways are part of the variable valve timing system. Now because it's only on single cam shaft, of course they can only vary the valve timing for the intake and exhaust all at the same time.

Whereas if you have overhead cams or individual cams on each like exhausted intake, there's much more flexibility and adjustment. But the nice thing about this type of pushrod engine is it's simpler and there's less moving parts. I think that kind of covers it. I mean, a couple of views here.

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair
2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair

This is the engine. The engine must be removed to do this work so the cylinder heads have to come off to access the lifters. And so this is the engine being re-installed and another view of the engine with the intake on and assembled, getting close to running time. So that's most of our pictures, I've got a couple more to share as we talk a little further.

So further items that were damaged. Last time we did this, it was basically, you know, the cam and lifters were replaced. On this particular engine, we ran into a couple of other things.

2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair
2015 Dodge Ram, 5.7 L Hemi, Camshaft Repair

The rocker arms only on the intake side had been pounded out pretty badly. This is where the rocker arm contacts the top of the valve.

And here's an intake valve. You can see this top is supposed to be completely smooth and shiny, and you can see it's very pounded out and damaged. So all the intake valves had to be replaced, along with the valve springs had some wear. They were basically softer than specification and all the intake rockers. Exhaust valves surprisingly were all in good shape, but for some reason the intakes took the brunt of the wear. I think that concludes our slideshow.

Mark: Okay. So this is pretty catastrophic failure. Was it, this is a I'm throwing you a curve, would it have been cheaper to just get a used engine and put it in rather than doing this repair? 

Bernie: Well, it's an excellent question because we do a lot of used engines and I'd say no. A) it wouldn't have been any cheaper. I mean, the cost would probably have been the same, but the thing where they used engine is you're just buying an engine that's probably got the same problem that's going to happen again. So where used engines are good is where the failure is maybe someone just didn't change their oil enough, or they let the timing chain rattled too long and it broke. So that's it, but the engine is generally quite sound. So that's where used engine's good.  

I've had a few customers with Toyota's where they just, for some reason haven't changed their oil in the engine blows up, but like the engines themselves are, you've never have a problem with one. So that's a good used engine, but on this particular car, because of the problem, if you've got a used engine, you'd probably want to change the cam and lifters anyways, before you even put it in. So that's a great question, but yeah, it definitely not the best way to go. 

Would it be worthwhile to rebuild the engine while it doesn't really make any sense? Cause the rest of the engine is really quite sound like the pistons. The bottom end of these engines is really good and it's really pretty trouble-free. So you know, just doing the cam and lifters and fixing the valves and heads, it'll go for a long time. With good maintenance.

Mark: So camshaft and lift your issue, is this common on Hemi's? 

Bernie: Very common. If you Google it, you'll see it just, it's a huge, huge issue on this 5.7 litre engine. And it seems like it happens more on the 2009 and newer, and you know why that is. Not quite sure, but they introduced a few features on, on the 2009 and newer like variable valve timing.

And that can affect the way the oil flows through the engine. Also they have multiple cylinder displacement. So it can actually kill certain cylinders while you're driving down the highway when you don't need the heavy load to improve fuel economy. So these may have an effect on how the engine is oiled, because that's controlled through the oil system and the engine.

So why it's a failure? It's hard to know exactly, but again, I would just say change your oil regularly, like more frequently than recommended. And don't ever miss an oil change because it can be as simple as just missing one oil change can make a difference or just extending it a little too long.

Mark: Was this an issue on the older, like the Hemi has been around since the fifties, it's like 70 year old engine basically in design. Was this a problem in through the 50s, 60s, 70s? 

Bernie: Not that I know of course that's getting way back there. So the newer generation of Hemi's where I think they reintroduced it around 2002 and it hasn't really been a problem in those, but it is on these 09 and newers. And you know, there's a few other displacements of Hemi's to the 6.4 litre I think, I believe the Hellcat's is 6.2. I don't know if those have any problems, cause that's an extremely rare engine, but 6.4s do apparently have problems. We haven't seen one yet. It's not the most common engine either, but apparently they do have problems with the cams too. So,  you know, it's basically the same engine, just bored and stroked differently.

Mark: So would a diesel, I hate to ask this, would a diesel engine be a better more reliable option for this Dodge Ram truck heavy duty Ram truck? 

Bernie: Well, it's a good question because and my answer is it depends on what your application for the diesel is. If hauling some heavy loads, the diesel might be a better option. But if it's just kind of an around town kind of moderate load truck. I'd say probably not, because you can end up spending the kind of money this repair job costs on a diesel pretty easily with if the emission equipment goes bad or something like that. 

So well, you know, the operating cost of the diesel is lower. And I guess the other thing too is to buy the diesel truck costs a lot more money in the first place. So if you're hauling heavy loads, the diesel is probably a better way to go. But you know, on a lighter duty application the gas is probably still a better way to go. 

Mark: So there you go. If your Hemi is having some issues in Vancouver. Oh, here's another question. I forgot. Let me interrupt myself, Bernie. Sure we would you hear this with that cam lobe wearing out like that and scraping so bad? Would you actually hear something?

Bernie:  Well, yeah. So, you know, what's interesting about this particular issue is that this engine wasn't really tapping or clicking, like we would normally hear. I don't know why, because I last Jeep that we did the podcast on the reason we actually repaired that one wasn't because the engine was running badly. Cause there was a ticking sound in the engine. So yes, a ticking sound is the first issue it's like, you know, now there's multiple things that can cause that, but on this engine, you can be pretty sure if you've got a ticking sound, it's probably a failed lifter or a cam shaft.

And that other Jeep we did, I mean, the cam lobe was worn, but not particularly as bad as this and the lifter again had had collapsed, but the wear it wasn't as severe as this. So it was surprising that there wasn't a ticking sound, but normally yes, you would hear a ticking sound. And if you do hear that, that's probably the time to get it repaired before, you know, this engine probably went way too long and then all the valves have got pounded out. You know, that's not always a repair that's needed, but in this case it was. 

Mark: So if your Hemi's ticking, get it in for some service. If you're in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at (604) 327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to call and book ahead. They're always busy. Check out the website pawlikautomotive.com. We have nine years of videos, all makes and models and types of repairs. The YouTube channel is Pawlik Auto Repair. Thanks so much for listening and watching the podcast. We really appreciate it. And thank you, Bernie. 

Bernie: Thank you, Mark. Thanks for watching.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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