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Replacing a Camshaft Synchronizer

camshaft synchronizer

The camshaft synchronizer is a relatively small part that is very important to the engine. It's responsible for setting the timing for the spark plugs during ignition. It normally should last for the life of the vehicle, but some models, particularly 1990s and 2000s Fords, are known to have the camshaft synch go out. Repair is relatively easy, but can be time-consuming for the first-timer.

These generalized tips are aimed towards a Ford vehicle, but will work on most vehicles equipped with a camshaft synchronizer.

Begin by prepping the vehicle for work, including all safety measures and stops. Disconnect the battery completely and make sure the engine is completely cool. Chock the tires.

The first step is to get to the camshaft synchronizer, which on most Ford vehicles will require removal of the upper intake manifold. It may be necessary to remove the filter and intake tube as well.

Once that's done, get underneath the vehicle and locate the crankshaft's top dead center (TDC) mark. Turn the crankshaft, via the pulley's central nut, to the TDC point. On most Ford vehicles, this is the first "1" of the "1 1 1 0" marks. Verify by checking the marks on the camshafts as well, if possible.

Now locate the camshaft sensor. It's a good idea to replace it since you'll have to remove it anyway. Note its orientation and mark it with chalk or paint. Then remove it. On most, this is done by squeezing the connector loose, removing the holding screws, and lifting up.

On top of the camshaft synchronizer will be an actuator. It should be gapped near the top. If not, adjust the crank until it is so and all of the pulley marks are aligned. Remove the synchronizer's clamp bolt and mark the synchronizer and engine block to reference orientation. Pulling on the synchronizer will naturally rotate it and it will eventually clear the intake manifold. Listen for a metallic clink near the oil pan. This is the oil pump drive (on some vehicles) and it will have to be retrieved and replaced. Note that it's usually easier to replace this while the synchronizer is still in place.

Once the camshaft synchronizer is out, install the new one by placing it exactly in position from the exit point of the old one and rotating it in so that the alignment is the same. It helps to have put marks on the new one that exactly match the old one. Use a spanner wrench to set it in place and then install the new sensor.

if everything lined up perfectly, the vehicle should start and run smoothly. If not, double check your TDC and installation alignments.