Auto Upgrade 101: Finding the Right Rocker Arms
With the right set of rocker arms, your auto will definitely rock the road and rule the highway. Rocker arms help produce the force needed to move the pushrods while pushing down the valves. Should you decide to upgrade your rockers, you have to know which type suits your engine, budget, and application to make shopping faster.
What are the types of rocker arms?
Before deciding to purchase a rocker, you have to know if its type and dimensions meet the specifications of your vehicle. Selection is usually based on the ratio of your engine camshaft and heads to the size of your rockers, so knowledge about the specs of your auto is important. Here are the types of rockers:
Stamped steel rocker arms: Rocker arms made of stamped steel are widely used because of their affordability and accessibility. Most stamped steel arms are designed to fit all makes and models.
Roller tipped rocker arms: Though they are similar to stamped steel rockers, roller tipped arms are different they have roller tips at the end of the valve to produce less friction and wear. Some drivers prefer these rockers because they've got more power than stamped steel ones. Roller tipped rockers are used in many race cars, including customized Ford Mustangs and Chevy Corvettes.
Full roller rocker arms: Vehicles with high-revving engines like customized Chevy Corvettes and Toyota 4Runners usually require full roller rocker arms. Unlike stamped steel and roller tipped rockers, these are manufactured using machined steel or aluminum.
Shaft rocker arms: Shaft rockers are practically built off of full roller rockers, but the two types differ in design. Shaft rockers are more stable than full roller ones because they are connected by a common shaft that increases valve train stability. These are used in high-performance automobiles from various makes like Honda, Chevrolet, and Ford.
What should I look for when purchasing rocker arms?
Apart from the type, you should also take note of the pricing, specs, and additional features offered by each product.
Price: Generic rocker arms that do not include special features usually cost less than $50. If you need a basic rocker as replacement for a damaged one, you can check out Auto 7, Omix, and OES Genuine product lines.
But if you plan to upgrade your factory rocker arms, be prepared to spend at least $200 for specialized products. You can check out Comp Cams line of rockers; these components can create power gains up to 30 hp. Proform also offers performance rocker arms that are a little cheaper than Comp Cams'.
Location: Make sure you know the specs of your auto so you can get the replacement that fits the location of your original rockers. Find out if it is installed in the intake side, lower or upper area, front or rear, etc.
Product fit: You can choose between aftermarket stock and OE replacement. OE replacements are generic parts that suit most automobiles while aftermarket parts usually improve the engine design ratio for bigger hp gains.
How to Upgrade Your Mustang's Rocker Arms
With the right set of rocker arms, you can enjoy powerful horsepower gains and high engine performance. Rocker arms help produce the force needed to control the opening and closing of your exhaust intake valves. This guide will help you complete your rockers' upgrade (this is applicable only to Mustang vehicles).
Difficulty level: Difficult
Things you'll need:
- Valve cover gasket
- Socket set
- Gasket sealer
Step 1: Allow your engine to cool down before you start. Use the wrench to loosen the terminal nut and disconnect the negative cable from the battery. Get the screwdriver and loosen the clamp of your air cleaner duct. Disconnect all the other cables, hoses, and brackets until you reach the valve cover. Remove the cover to access the valve train.
Step 2: Uninstall the stock rocker arms by removing the nut holding them at the center. The Mustang's engine typically has 16 rocker arms; eight arms are placed on top of every cylinder head.
Step 3: Place the new set of rockers on top of the cylinder head; the metal roller should be sitting on top of the valve, not on top of the pushrod. Tighten each rocker arm's single retaining nut to complete the adjustment process.
Step 4: Reinstall the valve cover gasket. Apply the gasket sealer along the lip of the valve cover then press the gasket into place. Apply another bead of gasket sealer to the opposite side of the valve cover gasket. Grab the torque wrench to tighten the valve cover's retaining bolts to 10 ft.-lb. of torque.
Step 5: Reconnect the hose to the PCV valve and reinstall all the brackets, nuts, cables, screws, and clamps that you removed.
- For engine builders, you can move the pushrod closer to the pivot point of the rocker to increase rocker ratio.
- It is advisable to use roller rockers for Mustang vehicles because these produce less heat and friction.
- Check your rocker arm geometry; the tip of the valve should be right at the center.