Inspecting ALH cam and lifter wear

STDOUBT

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2007
Location
Portland, effing Oregon
TDI
dos jettas
Welcome to TDIClub!

IMO, if you plan to keep your car for long, you should replace the camshaft and lifters (as a set).
Cheap insurance!
That is, if the engine is having no other problems. it's hard to evaluate the lifters w/o removing the
camshaft, but if you use a plastic feeler, you can push it along the working surface of the lifters to
see if you can feel any dents. the lifters should be glass-smooth.
At 340k, you would be smart to just replace them. Again, my opinion.
Your pics are not hi-res enough to really see the lobes, but at that age, they must be a bit worn.
Here is what my '01 looked like around 240k:
 

Mongler98

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Mar 23, 2011
Location
Northern MD (HAGERBUSH)
TDI
98 Jetta TDI AHU 1.9L (944 TDI swap in progress)
honestly looks typical for the age. i don't see anything wrong with it other than the normal wear.
i would definitely leave it alone. at this age the head is more worn on the guides on the valves, hence why some of them sound a bit more tappy than others.
unless your having major issues, leave it be. the $ spent on putting new stuff in right now is just spending $ that isn't needed and no benefits your going to see in MPG or performance will be gained from swapping in new parts. But yes, always change them out with new lifters for a new cam.
If you DO go with a replacement, send your cam out to Kerma to be reground. these cams are the best iron you can get. and it's cheap.

IMO TLDR: leave it alone. spend $ elsewhere.
+1 for using a feeler gauge to fell the tops of them..
you can remove the cam to inspect the lifters. be vary careful thought and follow the proper procedure to do so or you risk snapping the caps. Hence why i say leave it be
 

Nicu1000rr

Member
Joined
May 3, 2021
Location
Romania
TDI
1.9 ALH/AGR Skoda Octavia
Welcome to TDIClub!

IMO, if you plan to keep your car for long, you should replace the camshaft and lifters (as a set).
Cheap insurance!
That is, if the engine is having no other problems. it's hard to evaluate the lifters w/o removing the
camshaft, but if you use a plastic feeler, you can push it along the working surface of the lifters to
see if you can feel any dents. the lifters should be glass-smooth.
At 340k, you would be smart to just replace them. Again, my opinion.
Your pics are not hi-res enough to really see the lobes, but at that age, they must be a bit worn.
Here is what my '01 looked like around 240k:
Welcome to TDIClub!

IMO, if you plan to keep your car for long, you should replace the camshaft and lifters (as a set).
Cheap insurance!
That is, if the engine is having no other problems. it's hard to evaluate the lifters w/o removing the
camshaft, but if you use a plastic feeler, you can push it along the working surface of the lifters to
see if you can feel any dents. the lifters should be glass-smooth.
At 340k, you would be smart to just replace them. Again, my opinion.
Your pics are not hi-res enough to really see the lobes, but at that age, they must be a bit worn.
Here is what my '01 looked like around 240k:
Thank you for your welcome and for the suggestions!
I plan to keep the car. I have had it for eleven years now. Bought it at 186000 miles and put on it 150k myself.
I already changed the lifters once 80k miles or so ago, because some if them were noisy. The new ones were not vert good quality i assume.
Your cam lobes were in better shape than mine.
 

Nicu1000rr

Member
Joined
May 3, 2021
Location
Romania
TDI
1.9 ALH/AGR Skoda Octavia
honestly looks typical for the age. i don't see anything wrong with it other than the normal wear.
i would definitely leave it alone. at this age the head is more worn on the guides on the valves, hence why some of them sound a bit more tappy than others.
unless your having major issues, leave it be. the $ spent on putting new stuff in right now is just spending $ that isn't needed and no benefits your going to see in MPG or performance will be gained from swapping in new parts. But yes, always change them out with new lifters for a new cam.
If you DO go with a replacement, send your cam out to Kerma to be reground. these cams are the best iron you can get. and it's cheap.

IMO TLDR: leave it alone. spend $ elsewhere.
+1 for using a feeler gauge to fell the tops of them..
you can remove the cam to inspect the lifters. be vary careful thought and follow the proper procedure to do so or you risk snapping the caps. Hence why i say leave it be
Thank you for you answer! I plan to keep the car for at least a few years and it is due for a timing belt this summer. In case of changing it, which option should be better, new camshaft and lifters, or used ones from the same head in good condition?
 

Mongler98

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Mar 23, 2011
Location
Northern MD (HAGERBUSH)
TDI
98 Jetta TDI AHU 1.9L (944 TDI swap in progress)
Thank you for you answer! I plan to keep the car for at least a few years and it is due for a timing belt this summer. In case of changing it, which option should be better, new camshaft and lifters, or used ones from the same head in good condition?
A reground cam from the one you have is by far the best option. Lifters can be had from any of our vendors.
 

Nicu1000rr

Member
Joined
May 3, 2021
Location
Romania
TDI
1.9 ALH/AGR Skoda Octavia
Just literally got off the phone with Kerma....they do not grind cams. Always carry a bag of salt to keep your backside dry!
On their site they explicitly say that they grind. They carry of their own but recommend to use the customer’s original one because the steel is stronger.
 

STDOUBT

Veteran Member
Joined
Jul 30, 2007
Location
Portland, effing Oregon
TDI
dos jettas
Brother, if you're in Romania, isn't the idea of sending your cam to the US for grinding kinda crazy?
The "OEM+" cams we can get here come from Europe in the first place. We get a cam and lifter set for under $200!
Grind? TF is this, Soviet Russia? 🤔
 

Mongler98

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Mar 23, 2011
Location
Northern MD (HAGERBUSH)
TDI
98 Jetta TDI AHU 1.9L (944 TDI swap in progress)
Just literally got off the phone with Kerma....they do not grind cams. Always carry a bag of salt to keep your backside dry!
WHAT ARE YOU SMOKING.. nothing you just said is actually true and is in fact.. 100% fabricated LIES..
kerma has been grinding cams for a long time and in fact there are only a few places you can legitimately buy colt brand (literally the only ones you can get) colt stage 2 and 3 cams in the USA and canada.. and kerma is one of those few.. you have only 2 options. Chill cast billet made.. and reground or i fear the chinesium will get you..
maybe the person you talked to says there not grinding them right now or something due to covid or something but they CLEARLY DO and have and will be doing this.. Who told you this from? was it Chris or Steve? im not even sure chris even works there. after what happened with EurospecTuning...

Maybe they just blew you off because your from romania or something.
Until Kerma actually gets out here and posts that they are not doing regrinds any more.. i won't believe a lick of those supposed lies...

https://kermatdi.com/i-245-colt-cam...html#!model=JETTA||make=VOLKSWAGEN||year=1998
Because of slight variances in different camshaft models, we find it is safer to use our customers own factory core. Using our customers core will not only lower the costs but result in a better quality product for some applications. This is because of extremely high grade metal used in factory cams, especially with certain import cams like Honda. Please note: kermatdi only carries NEW cams NOT reground cams. Our cams are made from fresh billet blanks, so we are not limited by the original factory shape.


We can also special order regrinds done from your cam, please talk to our sales department for details. but for obvious reasons we prefer to use our cams made from new steel billets.
 

Mongler98

Top Post Dawg
Joined
Mar 23, 2011
Location
Northern MD (HAGERBUSH)
TDI
98 Jetta TDI AHU 1.9L (944 TDI swap in progress)
oh.. lol whoops.. still. i have gotten a cold shoulder from both Chris and steve.. I feel if you call in and sound like your a newb and not a paying customer.. they blow you off.. its been a while so i can't attest to that right now, but in the past it was not good..
 

Nicu1000rr

Member
Joined
May 3, 2021
Location
Romania
TDI
1.9 ALH/AGR Skoda Octavia
Brother, if you're in Romania, isn't the idea of sending your cam to the US for grinding kinda crazy?
The "OEM+" cams we can get here come from Europe in the first place. We get a cam and lifter set for under $200!
Grind? TF is this, Soviet Russia? 🤔
I was not intendig to send it to US, though i bought from there a bunch of valve cover gaskets, that were not to be found in Europe. I found them at a very cheap price. I just want to gather information for fixing my car the right way, or to find out if it needs fixing. Just the same price you mentioned is valid here too. If you have some opinions over my pics an initial post/question, i would be glad to hear it.
 

Nicu1000rr

Member
Joined
May 3, 2021
Location
Romania
TDI
1.9 ALH/AGR Skoda Octavia
oh.. lol whoops.. still. i have gotten a cold shoulder from both Chris and steve.. I feel if you call in and sound like your a newb and not a paying customer.. they blow you off.. its been a while so i can't attest to that right now, but in the past it was not good..
Off topic ! If they would be refusing clients based on considerations of location, or "newbness", or being a paying customer, would they be a serious company? I don't think it would be, but i am sure they do not have that kind of practice.

On topic ! Your information was very helpful, so let's all stay on the positive and constructive side, and provide good and helpful information for all those who will be reading this post in the future.

Everybody have a good day and stay safe!
 

Franko6

Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
May 7, 2005
Location
Sw Missouri
TDI
Jetta, 99, Silver`
Forget the regrinds...? This goes back a few years, when the 'Cam Wars' were going strong. Still, to this day, our 'esteemed competitor' has a writeup how 'regrinds are no good' on their website. But the company that they get their performance cams from, made a very clear statement. "I would not do anything to wreck my reputation. I make regrind cams." So, the vendor that posts how bad regrinds are, buys from a producer who makes regrinds. I wonder if that cam shop knows they do that.

I have worked with reground cams for not less than 50 years. I've produced cams that were reground that exceeded 500,000 miles. Of course there are limits, but don't tell me regrinds aren't a good and reasonable choice.

But, in this case, if you are working a stock engine, a Stage II cam, which amounts to an additional .020" (.5mm) lift, it can help. But it's probably not worth it unless your goal is extra performance. And yes, I agree with Sdoubt and turbocharged obviously did not note your location on this point... why would you buy a cam in the US that initially came from Europe?

As for your cam pictured, truthfully, you can't really tell how worn the lifters are because the cam will cover any cam follower wear. You would have to remove the cam in order to tell exactly what the cam followers look like. The most important thing is that the lifters are quiet, that they might 'pump up' at startup and make a little bit of lifter noise, but if the lifters are smooth, drive it!

If you remove the cam, the most common issue is the lifter will get a wear line or 'Bow tie' where the lifter is dwelling...the lifter should be constantly turning. If the cam followers are worn, the cam is also worn. The cam and cam followers should always be replaced as a set. I would not argue that a Febi cam with INA cam followers would be a decent replacement set. Also, replace the cam seal with the PTFE version; Teflon springless seal. The only issue with that seal is at installation, you have to protect the seal's leading edge from becoming damaged by the woodruff key slot in the nose of the cam. Cover the woodruff key slot with a piece of electrical tape (ala paramedick) and the seal will gracefully slide over the slot without damage.

Of course, all of this must be done by removing the timing belt. You will need either a qualified mechanic or the correct timing belt tool kit to properly reinstall the timing belt.
 

Nicu1000rr

Member
Joined
May 3, 2021
Location
Romania
TDI
1.9 ALH/AGR Skoda Octavia
Forget the regrinds...? This goes back a few years, when the 'Cam Wars' were going strong. Still, to this day, our 'esteemed competitor' has a writeup how 'regrinds are no good' on their website. But the company that they get their performance cams from, made a very clear statement. "I would not do anything to wreck my reputation. I make regrind cams." So, the vendor that posts how bad regrinds are, buys from a producer who makes regrinds. I wonder if that cam shop knows they do that.

I have worked with reground cams for not less than 50 years. I've produced cams that were reground that exceeded 500,000 miles. Of course there are limits, but don't tell me regrinds aren't a good and reasonable choice.

But, in this case, if you are working a stock engine, a Stage II cam, which amounts to an additional .020" (.5mm) lift, it can help. But it's probably not worth it unless your goal is extra performance. And yes, I agree with Sdoubt and turbocharged obviously did not note your location on this point... why would you buy a cam in the US that initially came from Europe?

As for your cam pictured, truthfully, you can't really tell how worn the lifters are because the cam will cover any cam follower wear. You would have to remove the cam in order to tell exactly what the cam followers look like. The most important thing is that the lifters are quiet, that they might 'pump up' at startup and make a little bit of lifter noise, but if the lifters are smooth, drive it!

If you remove the cam, the most common issue is the lifter will get a wear line or 'Bow tie' where the lifter is dwelling...the lifter should be constantly turning. If the cam followers are worn, the cam is also worn. The cam and cam followers should always be replaced as a set. I would not argue that a Febi cam with INA cam followers would be a decent replacement set. Also, replace the cam seal with the PTFE version; Teflon springless seal. The only issue with that seal is at installation, you have to protect the seal's leading edge from becoming damaged by the woodruff key slot in the nose of the cam. Cover the woodruff key slot with a piece of electrical tape (ala paramedick) and the seal will gracefully slide over the slot without damage.

Of course, all of this must be done by removing the timing belt. You will need either a qualified mechanic or the correct timing belt tool kit to properly reinstall the timing belt.
Hello Frank! Thank you for your opinion! I have been reading topics on the internet regarding my question and a lot of people are taking about you as a very knwledgeable guy in tdi engines, therefore i was wondering how could i get your thoughts about my topic. I was not expecting to hear from you., so it was a pleasant surprise. Sadly, it is not an option that you could work on my car, but your the information i got, and will be getting from you, is most valuable.
So i am planning to keep this car for a few years from now. I owned it eleven years and i really took care of it. I am not intending to tune it heavily. I just want to have a software tune to it, because it has just 90 hores. It is time for a timing belt and water pump and because i will be in there i wanted to put a good stock camshaft. The one in the car now looks a bit worn to me and that is why i asked for other opinions. This camshaft got a new set of lifters one already.
I look forward to hearing from you!
 

Franko6

Vendor , w/Business number
Joined
May 7, 2005
Location
Sw Missouri
TDI
Jetta, 99, Silver`
Nicu,

We always recommend replacing cam and lifters as a unit. Many years ago, we had a new set of lifters put against an old cam. It drove about 1500 miles to me ( I sent an AHU cam instead of an ALH as I recall..) When the engine got to me, I was going to install a new cam. In those 1500 miles, the cam repeated the same wear that was on the cam followers that were 200,000 miles old! Do NOT replace only lifters, as cam and cam followers break in together and wear out together.

So now, you are replacing the cam, which should have already been done. The new lifter set is going to be questionable. My recommendation is to replace the set of cam and lifters as you should have the first time. Otherwise, you may just damage the new cam against what may already be damaged cam followers.

Since you are needing a timing belt job, which by the way, should always include the water pump, all the rollers and all of the TTY bolts. Don't short change the timing belt kit. We also think the 'Deluxe Kit' ( we do not have a deluxe kit... We only have a Standard kit. We do not have a Substandard kit...) should have the Dayco timing belt, INA rollers, Litens tensioner (check the bearing for manufacture stamping ) new tensioner stud, new bolts for the engine to body mounts and the big roller. And the cam seal should be the PTFE teflon 'springless' seal, for longer wear and less damage to the cam journals and finish with a Contitech serpentine belt.

When you are changing the timing belt is the perfect time to replace the cam kit. While you are at it, check to be sure the front crank seal is not leaking.

I can't hang out here too much as it is incredibly busy in the shop. I wouldn't mind visiting Romania, but I don't expect you will buy my airline ticket! LOL Good luck.
 
Top