Valve springs are the highest stressed component in your engine. That’s why companies like COMP Cams and Summit Racing stress the importance of properly handling your valve springs before, during, and after installation. We consulted COMP Cams for some handling tips to ensure maximum spring life.

close up of valve springs on a ford windsor v8 cylinder head
(Image/Richard Holdener)
  1. First, double check to make sure your springs are correct for your application. DO NOT MODIFY YOUR VALVE SPRINGS IN ANY WAY TO FIT YOUR ENGINE.
  2. Never place your valve springs in a vise, grab them with pliers, or hit them with a hammer as this will damage the surface of the spring and possibly cause the spring to fail.
  3. Handle the springs as little as possible to prevent damage or dropping.
  4. When separating double or triple springs, use only a durable plastic object that cannot harm the shot-peened surface of the spring. Never use a tool or hard metal object like a screwdriver!
  5. The surface is the most critical part of the valve springs, so give the surface of the springs a once-over to look for any rust or corrosion that could compromise durability.
  6. Do not clean valve springs with acidic or evaporative cleaners. This causes rapid drying and promotes the formation of rust on the surface, which can cause catastrophic failures. Most valve springs are shipped with a rust preventative coating that should remain on the spring throughout engine assembly.
  7. Wear gloves when handling springs to prevent acids and oils on your hands from corroding the wire.
  8. Keep the springs oiled at all times. When installing springs, use valvetrain assembly spray to ease assembly and improve the life of the spring.
  9. Work smart by using the right tools for the job. The proper tools and hardware, including a good-quality valve spring compressor tool, will ensure the springs are installed with as little stress as possible
  10. To properly break in your newly installed valve springs, run your newly installed valve springs through one heat cycle at a maximum of 1,500-2,000 rpm until the engine warms up and then let your engine cool down.
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Author: David Fuller

David Fuller is OnAllCylinders' managing editor. During his 20-year career in the auto industry, he has covered a variety of races, shows, and industry events and has authored articles for multiple magazines. He has also partnered with mainstream and trade publications on a wide range of editorial projects. In 2012, he helped establish OnAllCylinders, where he enjoys covering all facets of hot rodding and racing.