Ever wonder how you get to enjoy feeling the air-conditioning (A/C) vents' breeze or listening to the radio even when your vehicle's just idling? Well, that's all in a day's work for your vehicle's idle control valve. Bolted to the throttle body lower housing at the back of a fuel-injected vehicle's engine, the idle control valve increases the engine's idle speed. During its idling, the engine produces just enough power to keep it and other auxiliary auto parts running. When your vehicle's computer senses that the engine's going to need more power to run smoothly during its idle status (to operate the radio and the A/C system, for example), the computer opens the idle control valve. The idle control valve then ups the engine's idle speed by allowing air to bypass the throttle plate. So when your vehicle's engine stalls when you kick your vehicle into idle mode, have a look at the idle control valve. When a replacement is due, you can get your next idle control valve right here at Carparts.
• Our idle control valves are guaranteed to regulate your engine's idle speed more efficiently.
• A premium idle control valve helps achieve efficient engine performance by maintaining the right engine idle speed.
• If the engine's idle speed drops below average levels, the idle control valve opens to increase airflow.
Idle Control Valve Buyer's Guide
- Older vehicles rely on the idle control valve to ensure smooth engine idling and prevent stalling. The valve makes it possible for the car to immediately roll out once the driver disengages the clutch.
- The idle control valve manages the engine’s revolutions per minute (RPM) during idle moments when the vehicle doesn’t move. It controls the flow of air around the throttle plate.
- The symptoms of a bad idle air control valve include illuminated Check Engine Light, wrong idle speeds, stalling, and the inability to start the engine during ignition.
- A replacement idle control valve can cost anywhere between $4 and $923.
- Check the compatibility of the replacement idle control valve with your vehicle. Avoid reusing old valves as they wear out faster than new parts. Brands like Standard, Hitachi, and Replacement produce high-quality and affordable idle control valves.
Your car’s engine needs the right amount of air to keep its engine running smoothly while it’s sitting still. In vehicles built during the preceding decade, the electronic throttle actuator controls the air supply for idle speeds.
However, many people own vehicles designed before the onset of throttle actuators. These older vehicles rely on the idle control valve to ensure smooth engine idling and prevent stalling.
What is the idle control valve?
The idle control valve oversees the idle speed of your car’s engine. Also called the idle air control valve - IAC valve for short -, the mechanism regulates the air that goes around the throttle plate. It usually connects to the throttle body beside the intake manifold.
What does the idle control valve do?
In cooperation with other components, the idle control valve manages the engine’s revolutions per minute (RPM) during idle moments when the vehicle doesn’t move. By maintaining a steady idle speed, the valve makes it possible for the car to immediately roll out once the driver disengages the clutch.
To activate the valve, the engine control module (ECM) transmits a signal. The internal motor sends air around the throttle plate at the desired speed. The air leaves the throttle body and travels to the engine.
The ECM keeps track of various factors like the engine’s current load and temperature. Based on data from the coolant temperature sensor, throttle position sensor, and other monitoring devices, the computer adjusts the valve to raise or lower the idle speed as needed.
What are the symptoms of a bad idle air control valve?
The engine relies on the idle control valve to supply it with the right amount of air for efficient operation. A malfunctioning valve will deliver either excessive, insufficient, or changing amounts of air, leading to the engine developing issues during idling.
Symptoms of a bad or failing idle air control valve include:
Check Engine Light switches on
The idle control valve labors under the constant scrutiny of your car’s computer module. If the valve stops working properly, the computer will activate the Check Engine Light to inform you of the problem.
Wrong idle speed
The idle control valve can get jammed while open or closed. If it remains in the open position, it will produce higher idle speed than required. As a result, the engine will always run at high RPMs, even when your vehicle remains still.
Conversely, an idle control valve trapped in the closed position keeps the engine at a low idle speed. The RPMs will take a nosedive and your car becomes more likely to experience a stall.
Finally, a malfunctioning valve can send the engine into a rollercoaster of high and low idle speeds. The unpredictable shifts between high and low RPMs will make driving more difficult and dangerous as the engine may not deliver the right amount of power your vehicle needs.
The engine stalls
To sustain the right idling speed, the engine needs a certain amount of air from the throttle. It depends on the idle control valve to send enough air its way.
A failing valve may deprive the engine of the oxygen it needs to burn the fuel. When that happens, the engine can stall.
The engine cannot start
A bad valve may prevent your car from starting up. If the idle control valve admits too much or too little air, the engine will crank during the ignition process but it won’t start.
If your car shows any of the aforementioned behaviors, bring it to a reliable auto repair shop for a professional diagnosis. Keep in mind that some symptoms associated with bad valves can also apply to other mechanical or electronic issues.
Driving with a bad idle air control valve
Your car’s performance will diminish once its idle control valve gives up the ghost. It will become increasingly vulnerable to stalling to the point that the engine can stall immediately after you turn the ignition - if it starts up at all.
Don’t push a vehicle with a bad idle control valve. Take it to a friendly professional technical to replace the damaged or worn part.
How much does an idle control valve cost?
Has your car’s idle control valve worn out or broken down? You’ll need to replace it before the bad valve affects the engine and the transmission.
A replacement idle control valve can cost anywhere between $4 and $923. You can get individual valves, sets of 2 valves, and kits with other parts like throttle position sensors.
Selecting the best idle control valve
Be it a replacement for a broken idle control valve or a general upgrade, you want only the best for your car. The following tips can help you narrow down the choices at car parts stores.
Ever made the mistake of buying an expensive replacement part and finding out that it didn’t fit in your car? Always take the time to check if your intended idle control valve enjoys compatibility with your vehicle.
If you’re shopping online and the website features a filter bar, you can save yourself some trouble. By entering the year, make, and model of your vehicle in the filter bar, you can quickly browse the shop’s offerings for a replacement valve guaranteed to fit your car.
New parts versus used parts
You may find it tempting to swap a bad idle control valve for a working but used part. Brand new valves don’t always come cheap, and the high-end ones can cost hundreds of dollars.
However, used valves break down more often than new parts. The higher chance of failure comes from the carbon that built up on them during earlier use.
Many brands produce idle control valves. We recommend three companies based on their products’ quality and affordability:
Standard builds its products with an eye towards toughness. Each idle control valve undergoes rigorous testing during and after its manufacture to make sure it meets the company’s standard of quality.
A global leader in electronics and a trusted supplier of many big car manufacturers, Hitachi possesses the experience and know-how to build idle control valves that meet the automobile industry’s lofty standards.
When you need a replacement idle control valve that delivers the same level of performance as the old component at an affordable price, turn to Replacement. All products enjoy a year-long, unlimited-mileage warranty for your peace of mind.
Idle Control Valve Installation in Five Easy Steps
Idling is one of the processes cars are most frequently exposed to. It is as common as starting the engine for everyday driving. As such, it is important to keep the idle control valve in a first-rate condition. When defect and damage strike, replacement should be an immediate option to maintain the ride's smooth idling.
Required skill level: Novice
Tools you'll need
- Scan tool
- Engine oil
- Shop rags
Checking first if replacement is really necessary
Although replacing the idle control valve is a relatively low-cost, easy process, we still advise verification of damage. To assess the quality of your current ICV, use the scan tool. The car's manual can also be of help in this process. Use it as a reference for the site of your vehicle's OBD1 or OBD2 connection. After locating it, turn on your engine for the scan tool to receive codes and then plug the scanner to the OBD. Select the right procedure to read the code. If the resistance reading is outside the specifications in the car's manual, replacement is really needed.
Locating the idle control valve in your car
Pop the hood and access the idle control valve. It is usually at the top-center of the engine, attached to the throttle. In some models, like the Crown Vic and Grand Marquis, the ICV can be accessed at the back of the air intake section, where one would expect a carburetor. It is only a small device, almost the size of your hand.
Disconnecting the valve
Pull out the electrical connector from the ICV. You will also see two bolts and an exhaust hose attached to the valve. With a socket wrench, remove the bolts first, followed by the gasket. Once these have been detached, unplug the exhaust hose by twisting the ICV a little.
Cleaning the sealing surface
Use the shop rag to clean the sealing surface and the throttle body assembly. A clean area is also necessary in the upkeep of the ICV.
Installing the new ICV
After cleaning the mounting surfaces, assemble the new idle control valve. Don't forget to apply some clean engine oil to the gasket prior to the installation. Set up the ICV in almost the same manner as the old valve was detached. Tighten the bolts and plug the electrical wirings. To check if the installation was successful, conduct a test drive, but don't forget to erase the codes and commands on the scan tool first. Happy idling!
Air Control Valve: Parts Shopping Guide for Bargain Hunters
Life is full of choices, and sometimes you just have to pick the right one. The same is true when shopping for an air control valve. You'll come across more than a few options as this comes in many different forms. The air control valve you should get as a replacement should meet your foremost auto needs without emptying your pockets. We have here some practical shopping tips for bargain hunters and auto parts shoppers.
Know the specific type of air control valve your vehicle needs.
The air control valve comes in different types and variations such as the idle air control valve, power steering air control valve, turbo air control valve, and intake manifold control valve. Narrow down your search to a specific type of valve, and from there, you can move on to other options. If you're not familiar with the part, you can use the vehicle manual as reference. The OE number can also be your guide.
Familiarize yourself with item specifics and product features.
Not all replacement air control valves are made with the same quality standards and manufacturing process. Some of the trusted OEM/OES brands are strict with quality testing and screening to guarantee the product's compatibility, reliable design, and premium function. Valves that are made of premium-grade materials can deliver topnotch performance. Aside from being tough and reliable, the valves should be easy to install, without further modifications. If it's designed to meet or exceed the OE standards and specs, then once it's installed, it shouldn't interfere with the system's performance. Instead, it should be able to fix the problem.
Check out the different brands.
As you shop around, you'll be acquainted with different brands. You've probably heard some of them but may not be too familiar with others. To find out if the brand is reliable or the product is of good quality, take time to read some reviews and consumer ratings. This will tell you what the potential problems are with the product and how users rate it based on its pros and cons. If you're a DIYer or a budget-conscious car parts shopper, it pays to explore the available options.
Hunt for the best options at the most competitive prices.
The best place to hunt for top-quality parts at low prices is the Internet. Here, your options aren't limited. Auto parts stores carry a wide-range of products and some of the best-selling and most trusted brands. You can get at least 15% off the usual price or more if you just explore the available options. As you shop around for great deals, sign up for promos and look for reputable online shopping outlets that offer price cuts for highly reliable automotive products. These stores provide great value for money because they offer products that fit and can match the quality of the genuine vehicle part. They've partnered with top OEM/OES brands and aftermarket product manufacturers to offer the best for less. Product warranty is a standard for most.
Clean or Replaced? The Ideal Way to Keep the Idle Control Valve Working
Why fix if it ain't broken-sounds good and true, but this doesn't work all the time, especially for car owners like you. There is actually a very thin line between spending and saving when it comes to car repairs and a lot of people seem to cross that line and end up regretting. Keen eye is the key. Recognize first if the part that is causing car malfunctions needs replacement or just a simple wipe off. For instance, if the idle control valve in your Honda Civic is totally damaged, skip buying repair kits and try fixing it because you'll just end up buying a new one, which would only double the cost. Replace it right away and here's how to do it.
Difficulty level: Easy
- Socket set
- Wrench set
- New idle control valve with gaskets
Step 1: As a precautionary measure, always make sure that the negative cable is disconnected from the battery before working. Also, wait until for the Civic's engine to cool down. Pop the hood wide open to access the car components with ease.
Step 2: Find the idle control valve. Among Honda cars, it is always at the back of the intake manifold. The location of the intake manifold varies depending on the model. For front-wheel drive cars, it is seated at the back of the engine bay. For rear-wheel drive models, it is on the engine bay at the passenger's side.
Step 3: Detach the wiring harness that is connected to the idle control valve. Simply press the tab and tug the harness slowly to release it.
Step 4: Take the idle control valve out by removing the bolts that keep it in place. Remove the old gasket as well. Dispose these parts properly.
Step 5: Use a clean rag to wipe off dirt around the mounting area before you installing the replacement parts.
Step 6: Place the new idle control valve in the mounting area. Don't forget to put the new gasket. Make sure that the parts are properly aligned, especially the holes for the bolts.
Step 7: Attach the wiring harness again to the idle control valve, and then connect the negative cable to the battery terminal. Inspect the engine properly to see if you put everything back. Close the car's hood.
Step 8: Drive the car after the replacement and observe. Look, listen for any signs of leaks or engine problem.