Possible Camshaft Issue 1985 Cutlass Supreme


Asked by Mar 30, 2013 at 02:12 PM about the 1985 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme

Question type: Maintenance & Repair

I have a 1985 Cutlass Supreme 2 DR with a 231 V-6.
I went to the store in the vehicle came out the store turned it over the vehicle would not crank up
normally had to keep the pedal to the floor to crank up let off the pedal vehicle would shut down.
Tried again it started put it in reverse and the car shut down. It wouldn't start anymore after that.
Now a mechanic came out and checked my car out and stated it was the cam and it has to be
replaced.  I am some what mechanically inclined; however I never dealt with a camshaft issue if that is
the problem. I don't want to have something replaced and the problem still exists. If anyone can give
me their opinion on what the issue can be and how to troubleshoot the problem. I will be very

8 Answers


What is wrong with the cam? Did the mechanic say? It could be broken.


The mechanic stated the cam is bad but not sure if that is the issue...


Unless the cam broke, which seems unlikely to me I would be more inclined to think its the timing chain. This does, of course, control cam function so in his defense that might be what your mechanic means when he refers to a bad cam. Turn the engine to top dead center and pull the distributor cap. The rotor should be pointing either at the #1 terminal or 180 degrees away from it. If it is significantly off from that the cam has likely skipped a tooth or two due to a loose timing chain. I've also discovered that while the car will idly poorly and barely have enough power to move, if you rev it up it will tend to smooth out. Don't get too carried away with this, but that would also confirm the bad timing chain scenario. You can usually adjust the timing enough to get it to run so you can get the car home or to a shop, but it will still run badly. Don't try going anywhere else with it in this condition. Changing the timing chain and gears is a fairly big job, but if you are somewhat mechanical, can follow directions and have a decent selection of tools you can probably do it yourself. You will need to rent a harmonic balancer puller. Plan to spend 6 to 8 hours doing the job. Good luck. Let us know how it all turns out.

1 out of 1 people think this is helpful.

If it is the timing chain, your ignition timing will be severely retarded (late). I'd suggest checking that first using a timing light. HTH. -Jim


A bad cam shaft is not going to suddenly make the engine hard to start. Your mechanic may know that it's the chain and wants to add a cam shaft to his parts list profits.


The Timing Chain and gears was replaced in Oct of last year by the same mechanic who states it's the cam, and 2 months later this issue occurs. I thank you all for the helpful answers... I will troubleshoot pertaining to the timing.

Giulio Moro

Not the cam or timing chain, sorry. Could be a severely advanced or retarded distributor, the ignition timing is really off, a bad fuel pump, carb fuel filter or a few other things. If it tries to crank then you need to look at the ignition and fuel systems. If the cam or timing chain were bad you'd have some really serious mechanical problems that will warranty either an engine rebuild or a new engine.


yeah sometimes it can be your timing chain that would be off by a hair.

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