I will be opening up the top of an engine to clean the ticking lifters. To do so, I have to remove the camshaft. I have seen several people use assembly lube on the camshafts lobes and 'fixation points' upon assembly. Since I won't be changing any components, only taking it apart and putting it back together, do I needed to apply assembly lube, or is engine oil enough?


1 Answer 1


I don't know that I'd say it's "absolutely necessary", I will say it's cheap insurance. The reason why is, when you take the stuff apart, you should thoroughly clean it. This means, without assembly lube, the parts would be completely dry. If you don't put assembly lube on it, you are going to get an extreme amount of wear on these items until they are completely saturated with oil. This may take one second or it might take 20 seconds or longer.

The way that camshafts are built, they have a very thin, hard layer at the riding surfaces. This is so they will wear a long time. They are also made to exact tolerances (down to the .001" if not more). If you run your valvetrain dry, you stand the chance of completely destroying this hard outer layer. After the hard layer is gone, the tolerances are gone, then you'll soon be back in there changing out more parts instead of just lifters. Depending on the engine involved, you could be completely replacing the entire head.

Assembly lube is just cheap insurance. I bought a bottle of it for under $10 (Lucas). There are many different brands out there, just pick one and use it. You cannot go wrong by doing so, but not doing so could cost you a lot of money in repairs in a very short period of time.

  • I understand. My hesitation is due to having read that assembly lube, once flushed by the engine oil, can clog the oil filter or even some oil galleries in the engine. When I talked about just using engine oil, I was thinking of applying it like it was assembly lube. It wouldn't be completely dry at the start.
    – AmiguelS
    Nov 20, 2018 at 8:56
  • You certainly need to use something, so there are no "dry spots" when you first start the engine after the rebuild, but unless you have a high performance engine or are using new parts, engine oil should be "good enough". After all, the engine oil left on the cam is going to be "good enough" every time you start the engine for the next 100,000 miles after the rebuild!
    – alephzero
    Nov 20, 2018 at 10:20
  • @AmiguelS - Again, changing out the oil and oil filter after the lube is flushed away is cheap insurance. Like I said, you basically cannot go wrong by using it ... you certainly can go wrong by not using it. It's not a certainty you won't go wrong, but the possibility of it happening goes up exponentially. Nov 20, 2018 at 11:12

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