A pushrod is the component in the engine, which rests in the top of a valve lifter, and goes up, into the rocker arm. As the lifter follows the cam lobe, the pushrod will actuate the rocker arm and move the valve which will open and close it to allow fuel, air, and exhaust to move in and out of the combustion chamber. The pushrod is also hollow which allows it to channel oil up from the lifter and out of the rocker arm. The oil is used to cool the valve spring and lubricate the rocker arm.
Another important function of the pushrod is to center the rocker arm over the valve tip. If the rod is not the correct size, the rocker arm will not sit correctly on the valve tip. A wrong calculation in alignment can cause damage to the valve tip and rocker arm while effecting engine performance. The length of the pushrod can be checked for correct length and alignment using a rod length checker. Some vehicles may utilize the guide plate to help position the pushrod. Push rods that use a guide plate have to be designed to withstand contact encountered when rubbing against the guide plate occurs. A pushrod that rubs too much or is not designed to rub at all may become thinned out which can cause it to bend. A properly hardened rod can withstand that friction with no bad effects or damage.
Most pushrods are made out of steel which can be either a solid piece, or a steel rod made out of several different components. The pushrods that are made out of numerous components are normally low performance and are prone to damage if used in a high performance engine. High performance pushrods have walls that are allot thicker and can handle larger loads and high amounts of torque. Pushrods used in early engines were usually solid steel which hindered them from carrying oil to the top portion of the engine to cool and lubricate components such as the valve springs and rocker arms.
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