K Series Cam Install

K Series Cam Install: Fixing a common issue.


By Brian Gillespie and Chris Sadowski


While performing a routine valve adjustment on Roy “the boy toy’s” EP3 Civic, he noticed some damage on the exhaust cam. It looked like this.

cam pit.jpg

It's out of the car now, but look at the damage on the cam lobe. The technical term for this is spalling. It looks like the hard shiny surface has flaked away exposing cast metal beneath.

The pitting can be caused by poor maintenance or the wrong lubricants. Since Roy purchased the car used, the previous maintenance was kind of a mystery. It’s also typical of wear on a roller rocker cam which the K-series has. Roller rockers have been around a long time in aircraft engines and it is well documented that this is how the cams will wear over time.

Why me?

As the engine turns, the roller deforms the cam lobe surface from the pressure of compressing the valve springs. Over time, the metal forms small cracks from work hardening and small pits result from the surface flaking away. This creates higher pressure on the remaining material and it fails too resulting in spalling. The surface of the cam, when manufactured, is hardened. If it isn’t hardened enough, it may fail prematurely.

With early Accord, Element, CR-V and Civic Si there was some complaint from owners about this wear. This affected almost exclusively the exhaust cam since it was opening two valves per lobe and thus compressing two valve springs. Even with recommended maintenance, a few cars cars experienced pitting or spalling on the exhaust cam.

Is this normal?

Maybe it’s normal wear and tear, but if oil is changed at recommended intervals and you’re not bouncing the engine off the rev limiter every shift, it should’t happen before a couple of hundred thousand miles. Our engine had about 180K in miles and really shouldn’t have looked this bad. Regardless of the cause though it needed to be fixed. Once pitting starts, it only get worse. Nothing can be done to arrest the process and eventually it will effect the engine’s performance.

Time for a little R & R

Removing and replacing the cam isn’t a huge job. Since cam chains need only be replaced when they get loud or slip from stretching we decided to replace only the cam. Surprisingly it turned out to be a pretty straightforward job. Check out the video as we bumble through the K-series cam install.



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Aaron Gaghagen on Email
Aaron Gaghagen
Multimedia Editor at VTEC Academy
Aaron Gaghagen is a veteran video editor and longtime Honda enthusiast. All told, he’s owned seven of them, and has enjoyed every single minute of wrenching on every single one. Except for that automatic one. That was probably a mistake. In 2010 Aaron teamed up with Brian Gillespie who along with another partner launched Nacho Speed Garage, a venture that capitalized on Aaron’s video expertise to do its part in entertaining and educating the Honda masses. Nacho Speed Garage took everything to the next level. Instead of reading magazines and cruising forums for content, Aaron and Brian were generating it themselves. The demise of Honda Tuning magazine in 2014 was the impetus for Aaron to do something even more impactful, though, which led to the creation of VTEC Academy and aims to carry that Honda torch forward in the same spirt of not just Honda Tuning but Nacho Speed Garage.