Your Guide to Getting a Valve Spring Replacement
A valve spring, also known as a valve spring, is (ostensibly) a type of spring for valves that come in different shapes, sizes, and types. You have door springs, coil springs or struts, and so forth that assist in different aspects of car usage, from opening doors or stabilizing cam lobe profilers. Nowadays, there are more valve spring choices than ever before. However, which valve spring should you get? It depends on which one you need.
Buying Tips and Tricks
There's more to valve springs than open and seat pressures. To wit:
- Spring Selection 101: Unsurprisingly, the number one concern about valve springs continues to be "OEM versus aftermarket options". More to the point, are critical valvetrain (or valve train) parts like springs and the cam should be sourced as an integrated package from the same manufacturer that made your car? Or is it okay to instead use generic valve train parts and springs? There's no set answer to this. It depends on the situation and context. Do you need more value for your investment or is money no object for guaranteed value?
- The Argument For and Against the Aftermarket: Many city cars or hot rods perform fine while making use of generic spring aftermarket options to suit the needs of a solid roller, a hydraulic roller, or a flat tappet cam type. Then again, as you pay more attention to detail, sometimes it's better to stick with an OEM solution to simplify your choices and get an immediate answer to your replacement valve springs issues.
- RPM Operating Ranges, Cam Sizes, and Valve Springs: Essentially, the specs of your valve spring become more critical the bigger the cam and the higher the intended operating range. Any aftermarket product can claim OEM-standard, but a valve spring that's OEM is undoubtedly OEM standard from the get go. If you run cams with 240 degrees or more durable at a 0.050-inch tappet lift or routinely deal with 7,000 RPM, you can't take as many chances with a generic valve spring.
- Valve Spring Types to Watch Out For: Typical springs used in racing or high-performance engines include the triple spring, the dual spring with damper, the dual spring, and the modern single beehive string, among many other spring types. If a valve spring on your car is missing or requires replacement, your mechanic should be able to tell which type of spring it is, which makes it easier to narrow down your search when looking for it online (if you're not simply ordering an OEM replacement).
- Buying a Valve Spring Duplicate or Improvement: There are times when you could order a generic spring to replace your OEM spring if it works fine. There are other times when a generic spring will snap faster than an OEM spring. There are also times when you can upgrade to a better type of spring to improve upon the valve spring you lost since duals with dampers are old hat and the new hotness is a duel with the inner spring that retains damper qualities because of its tight interference fit.
You can repair or replace these springs with the help of a valve spring compressor (presumably, your mechanic or repairman from your dealership should have his own compressor on hand as well). Every spring type has its corresponding compressor. The trend for valve springs for the 2010s is apparently smaller, light, and stronger springs that could control larger cams and their valves.
How to Replace Your Valve Springs
The performance of your valve springs directly affect the performance of your vehicle as a whole because of the crucial role they play in letting your valves close and keeping your camshaft in contact with the lifter. Because of the high-temperature environment and normal wear and tear, your valve springs can weaken and become less effective with time. When you start experiencing valve float, getting new springs can restore your vehicle to its optimum performance. Replacing your valve springs is a garage project you can undertake yourself with the right tools.
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Here's what you'll need:
- Ratchet and socket set
- Valve spring compressor
- Compression tester
- Magnetic pick-up tool
- New gaskets
- New valve springs
NOTE: Make sure your engine has cooled over a few hours before you begin this procedure. These instructions were written with a Chevrolet small-block V8 engine in mind. Certain steps may be different for your particular vehicle.
Step 1: Open the hood of your vehicle and use your ratchet and socket to remove the valve covers.
Step 2: Use your ratchet and a 5/8-inch spark plug socket to remove all of the spark plugs. Take your compression tester and screw its spark plug adapter hose into the first plug hole.
Step 3: Attach the compressed air supply to the tester hose so the air pressure keeps the valves closed while you replace the springs.
Step 4: Use your valve spring compressor to compress the spring on the first valve. Use your magnetic pick-up tool to remove the keeper locks at the top center of the spring retainer so they don't fall into the engine. Extract the spring then remove it from your spring compressor.
Step 5: Place one of your new springs and the spring retainer into your spring compressor. Compress your new spring. Install it onto the valve stem along with the keeper locks. Remove your spring compressor. Repeat the process for the remaining valves. Take this opportunity to replace the valve gaskets as well.