RV Cam: What It Is and Why Your Vehicle Needs It

RV Cam: What It Is and Why Your Vehicle Needs It

RV enthusiasts are always looking for ways to improve their driving experience and get the most out of their vehicles.

One popular upgrade that many people have turned to is installing an RV cam. But what exactly is an RV cam, and what does it do?

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An RV cam, or “recreational vehicle camshaft,” is a specialized component that can be installed in an engine to improve its performance. Specifically, an RV cam modifies the timing of the engine’s valves, allowing for better airflow into and out of the combustion chamber. This can result in improved acceleration, smoother idling, and better overall engine performance.

But why is it called an “RV” cam? The term actually refers to the specific needs of recreational vehicles. RVs are typically larger and heavier than other vehicles, which means they require more power to operate effectively. Installing an RV cam can provide this extra power by increasing the engine’s torque output.

Of course, it’s not just RV owners who can benefit from installing a camshaft in their engines. Many car enthusiasts install cams in their cars or hot rods as well. By modifying the intake lobe on the camshaft, these users can increase horsepower and torque output while also improving fuel economy.

So how does a camshaft work? At its most basic level, a camshaft is responsible for opening and closing the valves in an engine’s cylinders at specific intervals. By controlling when these valves open and close (known as “timing”), a camshaft can determine how much air and fuel enter the combustion chamber during each cycle.

There are many different types of cams available on the market today, each with its own unique characteristics and benefits. Some offer more aggressive timing profiles for maximum power output, while others prioritize fuel economy over raw horsepower.

Ultimately, whether you’re driving an RV or a sports car, installing a high-quality camshaft can be a great way to improve your vehicle’s performance on the road. By working with an experienced technician or mechanic, you can select the right camshaft for your specific needs and enjoy the benefits of improved acceleration, better fuel economy, and more responsive handling.

Differences Between RV Cam and Other Camshafts

Old Cam Removal is Necessary Before Installing a New RV Cam

Installing an RV cam in your engine can significantly improve its performance, especially if you’re looking to increase low-end torque. However, before you can install the new camshaft, it’s necessary to remove the old one. This process requires removing the valve covers and rocker arms, then taking out the pushrods and lifting out the old camshaft.

Once you’ve removed the old camshaft, it’s essential to inspect all of its components for damage or wear. If any parts are worn or damaged, they will need to be replaced before installing the new RV camshaft. This step is critical because failure to replace worn components could lead to premature wear on your new camshaft.

Two popular brands are Comp Cams and Vanilla Cam. These brands offer a wide range of grind options that allow you to customize your engine’s performance characteristics based on your specific needs.

For example, if you’re looking for better low-end torque and improved throttle response at lower RPMs, a mild RV grind may be suitable for your needs. On the other hand, if you’re building a high-performance race engine that will see regular use at high RPMs, a more aggressive race cam may be necessary.

Stock Cams Can Be Replaced with Custom RV Cams to Improve Performance

If you have a stock 4V engine in your vehicle and want better performance without having to swap engines entirely, replacing your stock cam with a custom RV cam can be an effective solution. A custom grind allows you to tailor your engine’s performance characteristics precisely based on what you need.

For example, if you’re looking for better low-end torque and improved throttle response at lower RPMs without sacrificing top-end power, an RV grind may be perfect for your needs. This type of camshaft can help your engine produce more power at lower RPMs, which can be beneficial for towing or hauling heavy loads.

The Installation Process Involves Removing the Intake Manifold to Access the Camshaft

Installing an RV cam in your engine requires removing the intake manifold to access the camshaft. This process involves disconnecting all electrical connections and vacuum lines, then unbolting the manifold from the engine block.

Once you’ve removed the intake manifold, you can access the camshaft and remove it from its bearings. However, during this process, problems with your manifold can arise. For example, if your manifold is old or corroded, removing it could cause it to break or crack. If this happens, you’ll need to replace your manifold before continuing with the installation process.

The Grind of the RV Cam Can Affect Performance and Should Be Chosen Carefully

When choosing an RV grind for your engine, it’s essential to consider how it will affect performance. The grind of a camshaft refers to its shape and size, which determines how much air and fuel enter and exit each cylinder during operation.

For example, a more aggressive grind will allow more air and fuel into each cylinder at higher RPMs but may sacrifice low-end torque as a result. On the other hand, a mild grind will provide better low-end torque but may limit top-end power.

What Is Engine Lope And Why Does It Matter?

Engine lope refers to a rhythmic variation in idle speed caused by uneven firing patterns in each cylinder. Some drivers find this sound desirable because it gives their vehicle a more aggressive exhaust note and makes their engine sound more powerful.

However, excessive lope can indicate that something is wrong with your engine’s tuning or components. For example, if one cylinder is not firing correctly due to worn spark plugs or damaged valves, this could cause excessive lope at idle.

Benefits of Using an RV Cam in a Vehicle

Check Your RV Engine Components Before Installing an RV Cam

Before installing an RV cam in your recreational vehicle, it is important to check the components of your engine. This will help you ensure that the new camshaft will work well with your engine and give you the desired results. Check for any signs of wear or damage on your engine components, such as the lifters, pushrods, rockers, and valves. If any of these parts are worn or damaged, they should be replaced before installing a new camshaft.

Consider the Specs of the RV Cam for Compatibility

When choosing an RV cam for your vehicle, it is important to consider its specs to ensure compatibility with your engine. You need to make sure that the camshaft’s lift and timing match your driving mileage and usage needs. The location of the camshaft in the engine also matters for proper installation. It is best to consult with experienced guys or professionals who can guide you through this process.

Headers May Need Modification When Installing an RV Cam

Installing a new RV cam may require modifying headers to accommodate the new camshaft. Headers are responsible for directing exhaust gases out of your car’s engine cylinders quickly and efficiently. A larger camshaft can produce more power but may require modifications to headers as well as other parts of the vehicle’s exhaust system.

Drawbacks of Using an RV Cam in a Vehicle

Consider the Type of Vehicle You Have

It’s important to consider the type of vehicle you have. While an RV cam may be suitable for some vehicles, such as larger motorhomes or buses, it may not be the best choice for a truck or smaller vehicle.

In fact, using an RV cam in a truck can actually hurt mileage and cause other problems. This is because RV cams are designed to provide more power at higher RPMs, which is not ideal for trucks that need low-end grunt for towing and hauling.

Research the Cam Manufacturer

Once you’ve determined the type of cam you need for your vehicle, it’s important to research different manufacturers to ensure they have a good reputation and offer quality products. This will help ensure that you get a cam that is reliable and performs well.

One way to research manufacturers is by reading reviews from other customers who have used their products. You can also look at dyno charts and other performance data to compare different cams from different manufacturers.

Determine the Spec You Need

To find the right cam for your vehicle, you’ll need to determine the specs you need based on factors such as lift and duration. This will help ensure that you get a cam that provides the right amount of power and performance for your specific needs.

Shopping Around

Once you’ve determined what specs you need in a cam, it’s time to start shopping around and comparing options from different manufacturers. This will help ensure that you get the best possible product at the best possible price.

Utilize Resources

Finally, don’t be afraid to utilize resources such as online forums, WTB ads, and posts from other vehicle owners when researching different cams. These resources can provide valuable information about which cams work best in certain vehicles and under certain conditions.

Factors to Consider Before Installing an RV Cam

Enhance Your Vehicle’s Performance with an RV Cam

Components Matter

There are several factors that you need to consider. First and foremost, you should ensure that the components of your vehicle are compatible with the specs of the cam. Check whether your vehicle has a hydraulic lifter or solid lifter as this will determine the type of camshaft that is suitable for your engine. Additionally, make sure that the location of your camshaft is in line with your engine’s design.

Duration Matters

Another important factor to consider before installing an RV cam is how long you plan on using it. If you’re looking for a temporary boost in horsepower and torque, then an RV cam may not be worth the investment. However, if you’re part of a community of vintage guys who love participating in racing events or competitions, then an RV cam can give you a competitive edge.

Prevent Engine Damage

An RV cam can also help prevent engine damage when your vehicle is idle for long periods. When your car sits unused for extended periods, oil pressure can drop and cause damage to critical engine components such as bearings and lifters. An RV cam helps maintain oil pressure and ensures proper lubrication even when the vehicle isn’t being used regularly.

Set The Tone For A Memorable Road Trip

Finally, if you’re planning on attending events in another city with a partner or friends, then installing an RV cam can set the tone for an exciting road trip. With increased horsepower and torque from the installation of headers or other modifications paired with an RV cam, your journey will become more enjoyable than ever before.

Examples of Situations Where RV Cam is Ideal

RV cams are a popular modification for those who want to increase their vehicle’s performance and power. However, it’s important to consider the potential drawbacks before making the investment. In this section, we’ll discuss situations where an RV cam may be ideal and when it may not be worth the expense.

Hurt Mileage and Decrease Fuel Efficiency in Trucks

One of the main drawbacks of using an RV cam is that it can hurt mileage and decrease fuel efficiency in trucks. This is because RV cams are designed for high-end power rather than low-end torque, which means they require more fuel to operate at higher RPMs. If you’re using your truck primarily for daily driving or commuting, an RV cam may not be the best choice.

Using an RV Cam for Towing Can Cause Problems

Another situation where an RV cam may not be ideal is when towing heavy loads. Using an RV cam for towing can cause problems such as cracked exhaust and cold starts. This is because the increased lift and duration of the camshaft can put extra strain on your engine components.

Idle Quality May Not Be Suitable for Daily Driving

Additionally, the idle quality of an RV cam may not be suitable for daily driving and can potentially cause issues with low end grunt. In some cases, using an RV cam can lead to a lope or choppy idle sound which may not be desirable. While this sound is often associated with high-performance engines, it can also indicate poor drivability and decreased fuel economy.

The Only Reason to Use an RV Cam Is For Increased Power and Performance

It’s important to remember that the only reason to use an RV cam in a vehicle is for increased power and performance, but this comes at the cost of other drawbacks. Before investing in an RV cam, it’s important to weigh the potential benefits against these drawbacks.

How to Choose the Right RV Cam for Your Vehicle

RV Camshaft: The Key to Unlocking Your Vehicle’s Full Potential

Truck Cam vs. RV Camshaft: Which is the Better Choice?

Choosing the right camshaft can make all the difference. While a truck cam may seem like a logical choice, an RV camshaft is specifically designed for the unique needs of an RV engine.

The shape of the lobe on an RV camshaft is different from that of a regular camshaft, allowing for better performance at low RPMs. This means that your RV will have increased torque and power output, especially during acceleration and uphill climbs.

Additionally, many truck cams are designed with high-end horsepower in mind, which may not be necessary or even desirable for an RV engine. An RV camshaft provides more balanced performance across a wider range of RPMs, making it a better choice for most recreational vehicles.

Choosing the Right RV Camshaft Manufacturer

Once you’ve decided to upgrade to an RV camshaft, it’s important to choose a reputable manufacturer. One such manufacturer is Shop Shark Cams, which offers custom-designed cams tailored specifically for your vehicle’s specifications.

When choosing a manufacturer, be sure to do your research and read reviews from other customers who have used their products. It’s also important to consider factors such as warranty and customer support when making your decision.

Spec’ing Out Your New RV Cam

When selecting your new RV camshaft, there are several factors to consider in order to ensure optimal performance. These include lift and duration specs, as well as valve timing and overlap.

It’s important to work with a knowledgeable technician who can help you navigate these specifications and determine the best options for your specific vehicle. This will ensure that you get the most out of your new upgrade without sacrificing reliability or safety.

Real-World Examples: The Benefits of Upgrading Your RV Cam

If you’re still on the fence about upgrading your RV camshaft, consider the following real-world examples of the benefits of this upgrade:

  • A Chevelle owner was experiencing sluggish performance and poor fuel economy until he upgraded to an RV camshaft. After the upgrade, he saw a significant improvement in both areas.
  • A user on a popular RV forum posted a “WTB ad” (want-to-buy ad) for an RV camshaft, citing improved acceleration and power as his reasons for seeking the upgrade.

As these examples demonstrate, upgrading to an RV camshaft can improve the overall performance of your vehicle, making it more efficient and powerful.

Installation Process of an RV Cam

To install an RV cam, it is important to have the right tools and knowledge. The installation process can be complex and time-consuming, but with the proper steps, it can be done successfully.

Firstly, you need to remove the old camshaft from your vehicle. This involves disassembling the engine and removing various parts such as the valve covers, rocker arms, pushrods, lifters, and timing chain or belt. It is crucial to keep track of all the parts and their respective locations during this process.

Next, you need to install the new RV camshaft into your engine. Before doing so, make sure that you have properly lubricated all of its components with assembly lube. You will also need to adjust the valve lash clearance according to manufacturer specifications.

After installing the new camshaft, reassemble all of the engine components that were removed earlier. Make sure that everything is tightened up correctly and in its proper place.

Once everything is reassembled, it’s time to start up your vehicle and check for any issues or abnormalities. It’s important to take things slow at first and let your engine warm up before revving it too high.


Our team at HighwayDI is a group of passionate RV owners, mechanics, and industry experts who have come together to create the ultimate resource for RV troubleshooting and maintenance. We believe that the best way to learn is through hands-on experience, and we're committed to sharing our expertise with you.