How To Clean A Vehicle's Idle Air Control Valve

If your vehicle idles too high, or too low, the idle air control valve may need cleaning. An idle air control valve regulates the amount of air that gets into the engine. Sometimes, it can get clogged with carbon, which makes it stick. Regular cleaning can keep the idle control valve functioning properly. Follow this guide on how to clean your idle air control valve.

Prepare to Clean the Valve

To clean the valve, gather:

  • work gloves
  • safety glasses
  • shop rags
  • screwdriver
  • wrench
  • socket and ratchet set 
  • carbon /choke cleaner or gasoline 
  • hose clamps or small bolts
  • compressed air  

Ensure the motor has been turned off and cooled; then engage the parking brake. Raise the hood, prop it, and look for the valve near the back of the throttle body on the engine block.

The valve commonly has an air cleaner hose attached to it  If you can't find it, refer to your manual. Follow cleaner instructions carefully, and avoid getting it on your hands.

Disconnect the Valve

If you are working in a garage, ventilate it, or wear an oxygen mask. Detach the negative battery cable, which should be marked with a minus sign. 

Remove the hose using a socket or screwdriver, detach the hose, and lay it aside. You may need to remove one or two more hoses, crimp them, then plug the coolant hole with a bolt or hose clamp to prevent oil spilling.

The valve should be next to the throttle intake attached by four bolts or screw, and it commonly has a cone-shaped tip sticking out of the top, called a pintle. Take a photo of the wire harness to recall how wires connect or label them. Unfasten the bolts or screws with the right tool, being aware of soft-head screws, and remove the wire harness, depressing the tabs. 

Clean the Valve

Clean the valve by soaking it in gasoline or using a carbon cleaner. If the gasket appears damaged, replace it. Soak the valve in gasoline several minutes, keeping the flap raised, drain the gas, then spray it with compressed air to dry.

Alternately, coat the valve with a carbon cleaner, and use a rag to wipe the surface. Move the spindle back and forth, so the cleaner can reach all areas, and clean the throttle body. 

Reinstall the unit, connecting the new gasket, if needed. Securely tighten all hoses, remove coolant plugs, and reconnect the battery cable. Test the idle control valve after you reinstall it. 

For more information on car engine repair, contact a professional.