How to inspect PD cam and lifters

TdiRacing

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After all of the questions, I feel that it may be helpful for many others to have some pictures on hand on what to look for when inspection your PD cam and lifter for wear. I would advise that this should be done every so ofter to avoid any failures. Use this info at your own risk.

First off, remove the valve cover. If you are confused already, please seek the help of someone who knows what they are doing.

Look at the cam lobes and see if there is an discoloration or if there are radial score marks on any of the lifter lobes.


This is an indication of some damage. Discoloration and scoring.



This is normal. See the nice mirror like polished look. No scoring here. This had a good lifter under it. Notice also the slight chamfer on the edge of the lobes. ie rounded edge. This is important. If you run your fingers along that edge, you should not feel a lip there.



When the cam gets damaged, it peens the metal over and the chamfer is gone and you can feel a sharp edge there. NOT GOOD. Like it this above picture. See the chamfer is gone! Metal is rolled over.






Here is a lifter comparison. Left is normal wear. Right is the damaged lifter. This went with the discolored lobe above. Notice also the wear pattern and damage on that lifter. You can visually see this with a mirror when inspecting them. You may have to rotate the cam/engine over to see each one well. If the lobes are not really perfect and shinny, then you need to look closer for other signs. I hope this pics help clearify what you are looking for.




Here is what new lifters look like. The right ones are VW ones and have a high tech coating on them. This is what I used in my engine. along with a NEW cam, bearings and all the necessary seals and hardware.
 

zanakas

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Hey Oliver... how many miles are on the lifters in your photos?
 

TdiRacing

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zanakas said:
Hey Oliver... how many miles are on the lifters in your photos?
Unknown history on those in pics. Got that head used w/o history, but the BRM engine had 111K on it when the lifter wore through. Almost identical damage. All 8 were damaged on the BRM.
 

doonboggle

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TdiRacing said:
First off, remove the valve cover. If you are confused already, please seek the help of someone who knows what they are doing.
As a matter of fact, had recently begun to think of this due to the uncertainty of what condition the grandaughter's TDI engine (40k-previously owned) may he in. Usage of proper oil by stealership is up in the air.

Now I am not 'confused' by the reference as have done this in the past, beginning with my Model 'A' in high school years, but am wondering if anyone has created a DIY for the removal process.

I am asking this from the level of a new TDI owner who has not yet performed any complicated R&R process. I presume new gaskets, etc. as with the older gassers, but what about specialty tools, etc..

Of course if I did see the damage you showed, I'd button it up and take to a guru for repairs as my knowledge in that level of mechanical repairs is limited, as is my tool contents.
TIA
 

TdiRacing

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You can re-use the valve cover gasket in a pinch, but good to replace it. As for special tools, torx bits and a 19mm 12 point socket to rotate the crank is all you need to do an inspection. A mirror will help to inspect the lifters as they will be more visible form the back. Be careful and be clean when working with the valve cover off.
 

zanakas

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Looking at that (bad)lifter again, you can see that it was rotating nicely within its bore, as were aNuts and oilhammers examples. All of the parts were working as they were supposed to.

The oil in this engine has a tough job, namely, bearing and what amounts to high-load geartrain lubrication, usually mutually exclusive.
 
Last edited:

Sootman

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Oliver,
Nice one, thanks for posting. The coating on the lifters from VW that you note, is this new? Were the original BRM engine parts not coated? Are you aware of any cam shaft updates from VW? Any changes that may alleviate these problems. Would it be worthwhile to have the cam coated (Swaintech type coatings) prior to installing a new one? And lastly, is there any recall from VW on this issue that you are aware of?

Thanks
Steve
 

Dimitri16V

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Sootman said:
Oliver,
Nice one, thanks for posting. The coating on the lifters from VW that you note, is this new? Were the original BRM engine parts not coated? Are you aware of any cam shaft updates from VW? Any changes that may alleviate these problems. Would it be worthwhile to have the cam coated (Swaintech type coatings) prior to installing a new one? And lastly, is there any recall from VW on this issue that you are aware of?

Thanks
Steve
Don't hold your breath on a recall. VW may have slapped the 505.01 requirement to cover its ass if the problem is design related. The other theory is some lifters/cams were not hardened properly. Given that fact, there have been lifter failures with ALH and gas engines , the latter theory is more likely.
 

ymz

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Sootman said:
...is there any recall from VW
Sootman, you should know that in matters like this, VW doesn't recall... they simply recoil from having to face anything to do with it... (after all, it's the owner's responsibility to make sure that the proper oil has been used - even if a VW dealer does the work...)

Yuri.
 

Sootman

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ymz said:
Sootman, you should know that in matters like this, VW doesn't recall... they simply recoil from having to face anything to do with it... (after all, it's the owner's responsibility to make sure that the proper oil has been used - even if a VW dealer does the work...)

Yuri.
Yuri,
I know I show know...but sometimes like with the A4 emergency flasher switch that was recalled twice and the brake light switch that they recalled 3 times I was hoping they'd recognize this one. Of course a cam and parts is more expensive than the emergency flasher switch, I should have thought of that..oh well, maybe they'll be a few cams to choose from by the time I need one.
 

LessIsMore

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The valve cover gasket seems to be more than "reusable in a pinch", as long as the modest torque values for the bolts have always been respected. I've had no problem with leaks after 2X r&r.
 

dbent

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What where all your symptoms?
I am pretty sure mine are toast.
I was chasing a bunch of symptoms. It went from a MAF symptom. That worked for about 1 week. Then I blew the intake hose (at the manifold). That fix lasted about 1 week. Then I couldn't stop the loss of boost symptoms. I remove the intake hose & it sounded like exhaust coming through the intake. I removed the turbo intake pipe started the car. I could feel air coming out the inlet side of the turbo. I call a local German Auto shop & they just had a car in with the exact same symptoms. They followed the same path as I did & it turned out to be the Camshaft & Lifters.
 

dbent

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Camshaft & Lifters

Here are some pictures from my wife's 2004 Beetle TDI Camshaft & Lifters. This car has 119,500 miles. It is all stock. The first 88,000 it was service @ the dealer. I have performed the rest.

I was chasing a bunch of symptoms. It went from a MAF symptom. That worked for about 1 week. Then I blew the intake hose (at the manifold). That fix lasted about 1 week. Then I couldn't stop the loss of boost symptoms. I remove the intake hose & it sounded like exhaust coming through the intake. I removed the turbo intake pipe started the car. I could feel & hear exhaust air coming out the inlet side of the turbo. I call a local German Auto shop & they just had a car in with the exact same symptoms. They followed the same path as I did & it turned out to be the Camshaft & Lifters. They called the VW Master Mechanic Hot Line in Germany. There are reports of several 1.9L TDI's with roughly the same milage with worn out Camshafts, Lifter & Bearings. See attached Photos!

Notice the worn holes.



Notice the 1/32 Gouge in the Injection Lobe.



Notice the 1/32 Gouge in another Injection Lobe.
 

DanG144

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On all of these failed cams there is that gouge in the injector lobe.

I cannot figure out what causes it. The injectors have rollers that are much wider than the gouge.

Can someone enlighten me?

Dan
 

aNUT

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Good post Oliver.

To add to Oliver's procedure for inspecting the valvetrain:

It can be difficult to get a really good view of the lobes and followers on an engine before it's torn down.

Feeling the lobes gives an accurate picture as well; and is easier with the cam in the car. The valve lobes are supposed to be very elliptical. When running a finger over the surface of the lobe on it's major axis, they should be perfectly smooth. If there's the slightest hint of an edge, it's worn. The lobe should be an egg, not a triangle. The injector lobes do have a bit of an edge though. They ramp the roller up quickly, then transition to a curve.
 

N4teTheGreat

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These threads always tend to make me nervous since my 04 Golf was "dealer serviced" with synthetic until 73k. It has since gotten changes every 10k with 505.01 oil. In fact I drained it right after I bought it as I was unsure of what was in there.

That said, so far so good it seem to be performing great. I'm wondering, are there symptoms to look for (aside from inspection) that might indicate a problem? Also, aside from the obvious head rebuild, what other damage to the engine can occur when the lifters fail?

Thanks for all the info in this thread so far.
 

TdiRacing

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DanG144 said:
On all of these failed cams there is that gouge in the injector lobe.

I cannot figure out what causes it. The injectors have rollers that are much wider than the gouge.

Can someone enlighten me?

Dan

I could not figure that groove out either. There is really nothing that can touch that part of the cam except for the injector roller. Makes no sense. I am wondering if they had flaws from the factory.
 

Ski in NC

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The groove on the fuel cam is from the edge of the valve cam follower. Follower must be dished or tilted for this to happen. -Eric
 

DanG144

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N4teTheGreat said:
I'm wondering, are there symptoms to look for (aside from inspection) that might indicate a problem?
Oilhammer has pointed out that differences in injector data in VCDS information in measuring block 13 may be an indication. When he sees one with deviations of 0.8 or more, he suspects cam wear, and recommends an inspection. The range is -2.8 to +2.8, per VCDS. Most of the engines (not a huge population) that I have seen are -0.28 to +0.28. I have seen one that had a -.42 and a +.5, and that person had been doing his own oil changes with regular diesel oil. He would not allow me to look at his cam.

013,0,Idle Stabilization (Injection Quantity Deviation)
013,1,Injection Quantity,Deviation Cyl. 1,Specification (Idle): -2.8...+2.8 mg/Str.
013,2,Injection Quantity,Deviation Cyl. 2,Specification (Idle): -2.8...+2.8 mg/Str.
013,3,Injection Quantity,Deviation Cyl. 3,Specification (Idle): -2.8...+2.8 mg/Str.
013,4,Injection Quantity,Deviation Cyl. 4,Specification (Idle): -2.8...+2.8 mg/Str.

I think I would also be concerned if injector switch time deviation was growing larger. No one has yet suggested a threshold value for this, or has agreed that it may be pertinent to the issue. It was probably intended to be an indicator of internal injector problems - slow or sticky response to commands by the solenoids and pilot valves/spool pieces.

023,0,Injector Switch Time Deviation
023,1,Switch Time Deviat.,Cylinder 1,Specification: -100.0...+100.0 ms
023,2,Switch Time Deviat.,Cylinder 2,Specification: -100.0...+100.0 ms
023,3,Switch Time Deviat.,Cylinder 3,Specification: -100.0...+100.0 ms
023,4,Switch Time Deviat.,Cylinder 4,Specification: -100.0...+100.0 ms

If either of these measuring blocks were high in absolute value, the first action I would take would be to do an injector cleaning with diesel purge or other product.
http://forums.tdiclub.com/showthread.php?t=87948

If the numbers were still high after that, remove the valve cover and inspect.

Dan
 

Blue_Hen_TDI

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milehighassassin said:
Have we seen a 2005 that had 505.01 with cam problems? It has sounded like a batch issue, have they all been in 2004's?
I was over at Oliver's on Thursday and saw this cam. I'm pretty sure it was from an '06 Jetta.

Oliver?
 

TdiRacing

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Blue_Hen_TDI said:
I was over at Oliver's on Thursday and saw this cam. I'm pretty sure it was from an '06 Jetta.

Oliver?
I have two cams one is a BRM 06 that had damage, and the other pics in this thread was from a 130HP Passat PD engine US model. Damage is the same on PD cams. Cause is likely a design flaw in my opinion. This just adds a bit more cost to the maintenance of the engines. Lifters fail and take the cam with it.
 

milehighassassin

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I know this was covered in another thread but what are we looking at for cost?

Full job:

Just lifters:

I assume if you catch it early, just the lifters can be done?

Are there any improvements that can be made to the cam? Would this be an opportunity to grind the cam; or don't even bother?
 
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