Most people install new camshaft seals after they have assembled camshaft covers. They use a special tool (or a PVC pipe) and tap the seal gently into place with a hammer.

This is the most common method.

I have a question about using another method. I'm going to replace my hydraulic lifters. To access them, I have to remove all caps and when I remove camshafts, I can remove the old seals quite easily but what about installing the new seals?

Is it a bad idea to put new seals on camshafts first and put everything back together next? By doing this, I don't even need a hammer and a PVC pipe. I have seen mechanics do it this way like in the following video between 2:24 and 2:48.


The above video is not about my car but is very similar.

I was also thinking about using this method because there is not enough room between the engine and the chassis to use a hammer. If I use this method, I can install the seals much easier. Is this a wrong method? Should I avoid it? Please enlighten me.

1 Answer 1


There shouldn't be an issue with doing this ... with three caveats.

  1. When installing the seal, you need to ensure it is completely perpendicular to the camshaft. If you don't, it's going to leak.
  2. I see in the video he has the seal deeper in the slot then I would. I would try to keep it closer to the outside (more closer to flush). You DO NOT want it to bottom out in the groove, because this will most likely cause issues and leak.
  3. Ensure you DO NOT nick the surface of the seal on either where it rides on the cam or on the face where it sits in the groove. Either way will absolutely cause leakage.

Why do I say "leakage"? Because, if it leaks, it becomes a huge issue to change these out again.

Also, in the video, it appears he puts some oil on the outside surface of the seal. I'd put oil on the outside as well as the lip which goes against the camshaft. This will help it to not get nicked as well as for it slide into position easier. A dry seal is a bad way to start an engine. It will usually tear it up.

Bottom line, this shouldn't be an issue, just be careful.

  • Will it be safer and less likely to leak if I use the hammer method?
    – LFY MP7.3
    Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 22:02
  • @LFYMP7.3 - If you do it right, I don't think either one is better than the other. You can still screw it up using a installation tool. In other words, neither method is foolproof. I think if you don't have an installation tool, installing it onto the cam and going that direction will work just fine if you're careful with it. I've had the same situation where I was able to push it into the slot using my thumbs. Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 22:05
  • Could you please come to Pitstop chat section? I want to show you something.
    – LFY MP7.3
    Commented Dec 28, 2023 at 22:12

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