How Much HP Does A Cam Add? Here Is All You Need To Know!

Written By: Terrence Hines
Category: Engine

How much HP does a cam add? The answer varies, as it’s dependent on several factors, like the type of engine, its current state, and the specific camshaft used.

This guide aims to provide you with an understanding of how camshafts can influence engine performance and power output.

How Much HP Does A Cam Add?

Cams play a significant role in boosting the horsepower of a car engine.

The exact increase in horsepower depends greatly on the type of camshaft you install and the specifics of your engine.

As a general estimate, a performance cam can add anywhere from 20 to 70 HP. A high-performance camshaft, designed for racing could potentially add even more.

Camshaft TypeEstimated HP Gain Range
Performance Cam20 – 70 HP
High-Performance Cam (Racing)Potentially higher than 70 HP

These figures, however, can vary widely based on other engine modifications, the installation quality, and the specific vehicle.

Therefore, while installing a cam can be a worthy investment, it’s crucial to consider these factors to maximize your engine’s potential.

Is It Worth It?

Determining whether the horsepower gain from a camshaft upgrade is worth the investment depends largely on your specific needs and expectations.

If your primary goal is to maximize your vehicle’s power and performance, the potential increase of 5-15% HP could be considered a worthwhile investment.

However, it’s important to consider the total cost, including the camshaft price, installation, and any necessary modifications to support the new cam.

In addition, a more powerful engine can increase fuel consumption, which should be considered in the long-term cost.

How Much HP Does A Cam Add? Here Is All You Need To Know!

The investment could be justified if you enjoy DIY car modifications and desire added power.

However, the cost may not outweigh the benefits for those looking for only minor performance improvements or who primarily use their vehicle for everyday commuting.

What To Consider When Purchasing A Cam For Your Engine?

When considering a camshaft upgrade for your engine, it’s important to evaluate key factors that impact performance and driving experience.

These factors include power gains, engine compatibility, valve timing specifications, and your driving style.

You can optimize your engine’s performance and unleash its full potential by carefully evaluating these aspects.

1. Vehicle’s Purpose:

A camshaft upgrade might be unnecessary if your vehicle is mainly used for everyday commuting.

Nevertheless, upgrading your camshaft can prove advantageous if your vehicle is utilized for racing purposes or if you seek to enhance its performance.

2. Engine Compatibility:

Not all cams work with all engines. When choosing a camshaft, selecting one designed for your engine type, model, and performance needs is vital.

Ensuring compatibility will optimize your engine’s overall performance and efficiency, delivering the desired power and reliability.

3. Installation:

Installing a new camshaft can be a complex task requiring certain mechanical expertise.

If you don’t feel confident in completing this task alone, it’s important to consider the expenses associated with professional installation.

4. Maintenance:

High-performance camshafts, famous for their superior engine performance, may need extra maintenance for optimal functionality.

This involves regular checks and adjustments to maintain peak performance and extend lifespan.

By investing time and effort in proper maintenance, enthusiasts can enjoy the added power and efficiency these camshafts offer their vehicles.

5. Cost:

The cost of the camshaft itself, installation, and any additional necessary modifications should all be considered before making a decision.


Finding the right balance between the potential increase in horsepower and the overall cost is paramount.

By carefully considering these factors, you can make a well-informed decision about whether a camshaft upgrade is the right choice for your vehicle and your needs.

Advantages And Disadvantages Of Adding Horsepower With A Cam Upgrade

When considering a cam upgrade to boost horsepower, weighing the benefits and potential drawbacks is essential.

This enhancement can offer noticeable improvements in power and performance, but it’s not without its challenges and potential downsides.

Let’s delve into the advantages and disadvantages of adding horsepower with a cam upgrade to help you make the most informed decision for your vehicle.


Upgrading to a performance camshaft is a proven method to increase engine horsepower. Car enthusiasts can enjoy a substantial power boost and thrilling performance.

Despite requiring careful consideration and potential maintenance, the benefits are well worth it. Let’s explore these advantages further.

1. Improved Performance:

Increase your vehicle’s horsepower to enhance performance, accelerate faster, achieve higher top speeds, and improve towing capacity.

Experience an unparalleled level of capability and embrace the exhilaration of the open road, all while effortlessly managing heavier loads with confidence.

2. Fuel Efficiency:

Optimizing your engine’s fuel efficiency can be achieved by fine-tuning your camshaft.

This is because it improves the timing and duration of valve openings, allowing for better fuel and air combinations, thus enhancing combustion efficiency.

3. Increased Resale Value:

Upgraded vehicles perform better with enhancements like a camshaft upgrade and fetch a higher resale value.

These improvements enhance the driving experience and attract buyers who value power and customization. Investing in engine upgrades maximizes vehicle value and enjoyment.

4. Aesthetic Appeal:

Car enthusiasts love the thrilling sound of a high-performance camshaft. It adds appeal and sets the car apart with its distinct rumble and growl.

Every drive becomes an extraordinary experience, igniting excitement and pride in the owner.


While the benefits of a camshaft upgrade are alluring, it’s also crucial to consider the potential disadvantages.

These can range from increased maintenance requirements to a potential decrease in drivability.

We’ll now delve into these downsides to provide a balanced view of adding horsepower with a cam upgrade.

1. Increased Wear And Tear:

Higher horsepower can increase stress on vital vehicle components, resulting in faster wear and tear and potentially higher maintenance costs.

Consider these factors before choosing a vehicle with a higher horsepower rating.

2. Fuel Consumption:

A well-tuned camshaft can optimize engine performance and improve fuel efficiency.

How Much HP Does A Cam Add?

However, if designed to increase horsepower, it may slightly increase fuel consumption, depending on driving habits.

Drivers should consider their vehicle’s needs and priorities when selecting a camshaft.

3. Installation And Maintenance Costs:

When upgrading a camshaft, it’s important to note that it can be complex and is best handled by professionals with expertise in this area.

Precision and technical know-how are necessary for camshaft installation and maintenance.

Regular checks and adjustments may be required, increasing the overall cost. Consider these factors before upgrading your camshaft.

4. Insurance And Legal issues:

Certain insurance companies have raised premiums for vehicles undergoing performance upgrades.

Moreover, it is important to note that extensive modifications might not meet street-legal requirements in certain areas, potentially leading to fines or penalties.

Vehicle owners must consider these factors before making any modifications to their cars.

How To Choose Between Mild, Moderate, And Aggressive Camshafts?

When optimizing vehicle performance, selecting the right camshaft is crucial. Camshafts come in mild, moderate, and aggressive types, each designed for specific purposes.

Explore these types and choose the perfect camshaft that meets your vehicle’s requirements and desired outcomes.

Consider engine specifications, intended usage, and desired power gains to unlock your vehicle’s full potential on the road or track.

1. Mild Camshafts:

These vehicles are ideal for daily driving, with good low-end power that seamlessly merges into your commute.

They provide a harmonious combination of performance and fuel efficiency, making them dependable and economical transportation.

Whether in the city or on long highway trips, these vehicles offer a smooth and enjoyable ride, making them the perfect companion for your daily commute.

2. Moderate Camshafts:

Offering a step up in performance, moderate camshafts are designed for drivers seeking enhanced power output, especially in the mid-range RPM.

While they may slightly increase fuel consumption, moderate cams provide a noticeable boost in performance without making major sacrifices in driveability.

3. Aggressive Camshafts:

These are intended for high-performance or racing applications. Aggressive cams typically sacrifice low-end power and fuel economy to increase top-end power significantly.

They are ideal for drivers who are less concerned about everyday driveability and are more focused on track or racing performance.

Choose the right camshaft for your vehicle based on factors like make, model, engine type, components, and driving style.

Seek professional advice to ensure it matches your needs and vehicle capabilities.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

Upgrading your engine with a new camshaft can significantly enhance your vehicle’s performance.

However, this process can lead to costly and inconvenient mistakes without the correct knowledge and guidance.

Here are some common errors you should be aware of and avoid when considering a Camshaft upgrade.

1. Ignoring Compatibility:

One of the most common mistakes people make is not considering whether the chosen camshaft is compatible with the other components of their engine.

It’s essential to ensure that your engine’s existing components can handle the increased demands of the new camshaft.

2. Overlooking Driveability:

While it’s exciting to prioritize horsepower and speed, don’t overlook the importance of driveability in your vehicle.

Avoid an overly aggressive camshaft that can make your vehicle difficult to control in everyday driving conditions like city traffic, winding roads, or bad weather.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Upgrading Your Engine With A Camshaft

Striking a balance between power and drivability enhances your driving experience and ensures a safer journey for everyone.

3. Neglecting Professional Installation:

Installing a camshaft is a complex process that requires technical knowledge and precision. It’s not a job for the average DIY enthusiast.

Improper installation can lead to engine damage and decreased performance, so it’s best to leave this task to the professionals.

4. Skipping the Break-in Process:

After installing a new camshaft, following a proper break-in procedure is crucial to prevent premature wear and tear.

This usually involves running the engine at varying RPMs for a specific period.

5. Forgetting About Tuning:

To fully maximize your newly installed camshaft, fine-tuning your engine is crucial. This step ensures optimal performance and unlocks your vehicle’s full potential.

Unlock the true potential of the upgrade and maximize performance gains with this crucial step. Neglecting it can lead to subpar performance and potential engine issues.


The question “How much HP does a cam add?” has no one-size-fits-all answer due to the broad range of influencing factors.

The camshaft type, engine specifications, modifications, installation quality, and specific vehicle all contribute to the additional horsepower.

However, the potential for a significant increase in performance is undeniable.

Installing a camshaft can add anywhere from 20 to 70 horsepower or even more with high-performance racing cams.

It’s important to consult a professional and consider all the available options before deciding.

This will help ensure you get the most out of your investment and give your engine the performance boost it needs.

Terrence Hines

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