What is an idle control valve replacement?

When your car is idle—and even when it’s in motion—the idle control valve’s key function is to maintain a consistent engine speed.
It prevents your car’s system from overexerting itself when you turn on the A/C, blast some music, flick the light switch on to search for your mask, and more. It even helps your engine start despite your car sitting outside all night in frigid temperatures.
In an idle control valve replacement service, a mechanic will evaluate the electrical systems in your vehicle and ensure there are no vacuum leaks in the process.

How to replace an idle control valve

When you take your vehicle in to get your idle control valve replaced, the mechanic will take these steps:
  • Run a scan to pick up any car codes
  • Look out for any leaks in the vacuum lines
  • Make sure all electrical connections are functioning
  • Remove the idle control valve if it’s faulty and replace it with a new one
  • Reset the check engine light
  • Get rid of carbon build-up in the intake manifold—a group of tubes and cylinders that evenly distribute the air coming into the engine
To prevent this system snag from sneaking up on you, it’s recommended to have an air induction service performed by a mechanic every three to four years. That allows the root cause of the idle control valve issue to be addressed before you embark on a long summer road trip—sans air conditioning. You’ll thank yourself later!

How do I know if I need an idle control valve replacement?

The first sign your idle control valve is on life support might be your check engine light. Other signs to watch for include:
  • The engine stalls even when it’s idle (not moving)
  • There are distinct noises coming from the engine
  • Turning the A/C on shuts off the engine

How important is an idle control valve replacement?

Let’s put it this way: without a functioning idle control valve, your car literally can’t function.
A stalling engine is no joke—especially if you’re caught up in a busy intersection. It’s not worth it to wait until the issue escalates to the point of total engine failure.
Once you see the check engine light or notice your car needs some extra oomph, it’s high time to get your car evaluated for an idle control valve issue.

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