Oil control valves, sometimes referred to as a variable valve timing solenoid, are found in cars with engines fitted with Variable Valve Technology. The ECM or engine control module controls the basic functioning of the oil control valve or OCV. The oil in your car engine ensures that all moving parts are adequately lubricated to avoid premature wear and tear.
Engine parts are usually connected with bearings, and specific parts have oil delivered to them to maintain lubrication as well as provide cooling. Clean oil increases fuel e and reduces gas emissions.
The oil control valve functions to ensure oil is delivered to the engine’s camshaft in engines equipped with variable valve technology at exactly the right camshaft position. Replacement cost for this engine technology varies by make and model of the vehicle.
What are oil control valves?
The Oil Control Valve or OCV is responsible for controlling the amount of oil that passes into the variable valve timing VVT gears. The oil flow can be interrupted by a bad oil control valve, a plugged oil filter, or old oil sludge that has blocked the flow of oil.
Car owners can easily avoid this problem by simply having the engine oil changed as per the instructions in the car manual that came with the car. Forgetting to change the oil can cause a blockage and can cause many components in your car engine to deteriorate more quickly than normal. The oil pump is also less efficient, which can cause the oil not to flow to all parts of the engine.
Top 4 Bad Oil Control Valve Symptoms
Common symptoms of a bad oil control valve can cause valve components to overheat as well as increase the wear and tear on components. Bad symptoms can include poor motor performance, increased consumption of fuel, and a lack of acceleration.
There may also be a burning smell around your engine, indicating a faulty oil control valve. Valve functions and malfunction symptoms are an indication of immediate inspection and repair requirements to avoid damage to your engine.
Bad engine performance
Maximum power is generated by the engine under load when the variable valve technology is operating to spec. If the OCV is not controlling the flow of oil optimally, the engine develops less power, especially under load such as heavy acceleration or climbing a grade.
Engine oil changes that are completed as per schedules called for in the owner’s manual usually do not exhibit poor fuel economy. Old oil with many contaminants can block the oil filter as well as the OCV.
Lots of fuel consumption
Gasoline consumption may also increase if the engine is not operating at peak efficiency. For example, if the variable timing valve components are not operating perfectly due to a bad oil control valve, the engine could burn more gas than normal while not delivering the power levels the driver is normally used to.
Exhaust valves may open and close at the wrong time allowing unburnt fuel to escape, which in turn means less power is delivered to the drive shaft of your car. Additionally, other components may also be damaged, causing further increases in gasoline consumption. There would be an indication of poor fuel economy under these conditions.
Lack of car acceleration power
The objective of the Oil Control Valve is to ensure that oil is delivered to the camshaft at the correct time and impacts the opening and closing of intake and valves. Variable valve technology adjusts the time of the opening and closing of these valves relative to the camshaft position to deliver maximum power when it is needed.
A faulty Oil Control Valve may cause inefficient power delivery to the driveshaft and limit the acceleration of your car. In most situations, the ECM monitors this condition and illuminates the check engine light on the dash, and records the appropriate trouble codes to be reviewed by the service repairman.
Rough idling problems
A bad oil control valve can cause rough idling. This is a part that regulates the flow of engine oil to keep it at an optimum level for all parts of the motor. If this valve malfunctions, then you may experience rough idle or other symptoms like excessive smoke from exhaust and low power.
Exactly how do oil control valves work?
Oil control valves are usually found in engines with variable valve timing systems, which help to improve the overall performance of the engine and help to provide improved gas mileage and lower emissions.
The OCV protects many moving parts inside the engine. The oil control valve is controlled by the engine’s ECM (Engine Control Module), which opens and closes to allow oil into the camshaft of the engine.
The valve opens and closes in millisecond increments allowing just the right amount of oil into the camshaft. The flow of oil to the camshaft causes it to quickly change and vary the timing of the valves providing air and gas to the ignition system.
If insufficient oil is allowed into the camshaft, the engine may also overheat, increasing wear and tear, causing poor mileage and acceleration. Too much oil can also damage the performance and emissions of the engine.
How long can I expect oil control valves to last?
Most consumers will find that the oil control valve will last as long as they own the vehicle. However, poor maintenance can significantly shorten the life of the engine and the oil control valve. Regular oil changes are a must.
Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and change the oil using recommended grades for your motor. Old, black oil with many contaminants in your engine can cause damage to engine parts, including the oil control valve, and your engines’ performance will also decline.
Electrical connections can be damaged by corrosion, the solenoid may fail, and contamination from old oil may block the function or slow the movement of the valve. Any of these can cause the oil control valve to fail and fuel economy to suffer.
If your car has a bad oil control valve, where should you go for service?
Servicing a bad engine control valve is best completed by an engine specialist. However, any certified mechanic should be able to diagnose the problem and make the necessary repairs. If sludge and debris have built up in the engine and, in particular, the oil control valve, make sure that the engine is flushed and a new oil filter and oil are installed.
The check engine light and the associated error code will indicate that there is an issue with the oil control valve. If the performance of the motor is impacted, the ECM may have generated other error codes as well.
The cost to replace oil control valves ranges from $200 to $400 for parts and $100 to $200 for labor, depending on the make and model of the vehicle. An oil change and a new oil filter should be scheduled at the same time, adding further to the overall cost.
Is it worthwhile to replace your oil control valves?
Replacing an engine oil control valve is going to cost somewhere between $300 to $600 plus the cost of a motor oil and filter change. If you are planning to get rid of the car, you may as well sell it now instead of investing another $600 into it.
Drivers who plan to keep their vehicles should consider having this maintenance completed. Your car will run smoother, and the performance will improve. Another factor to consider is the total maintenance needed on the vehicle.
For example, if the brakes and tires must be replaced, or the muffler is about to fall off, you may want to forgo replacing the oil control valve and get rid of the car instead. While the car may not attract top dollars, avoiding spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars on a vehicle vs. purchasing another may be a better option.
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F.A.Q About Oil Control Valve
If your vehicle is generating any of the above signs, have the engine checked by a licensed mechanic. If the engine light has been turned on, they can review the error codes and take the appropriate action. Many readers have the following frequently asked questions:
Can you drive with a bad oil control valve?
In most situations, you can drive your vehicle. However, it will not perform at the engine’s normal performance level. Acceleration and fuel economy will decrease, and your engine may run with a rough idle.
Also, there is a higher risk of damaging the variable valve system due to a lack of lubrication and cooling. The costs for repair can be substantial compared to replacing the OCV. Vehicle owners should have the oil control valve replaced immediately and the motor oil flushed and changed.
Is my oil control valve stuck?
Engine sludge can cause lots of problems such as low oil pressure, impeding the oil flow, and including causing your oil control valve to stick. It is incredible how many people fail to check the oil level in the engine regularly or even have the oil changed.
The sludge can prevent oil from entering and causing the OCV to stick, causing reduced motor productivity under heavy loads, acceleration situations, and even running roughly while idling. Usually, the check engine light is also on, and verification of the error codes will indicate malfunction of the OCV.
How much does it cost to replace an oil control valve?
The cost to replace the oil control valve will vary a great deal depending on the make and type of the car. The cost of parts to replace the bad oil control valve can vary from $200 to $400, with the cost of labor varying from $100 to $200.
Note that these figures do not include taxes and other fees associated with your state. Car dealers tend to charge more for both parts and labor, while small repair shops have lower overheads and can undercut the national brands. The repair is relatively straightforward: disconnect the battery; remove the old OCV, install the new OCV, and reconnect the battery.
Can you replace a faulty oil control valve?
The bottom line is yes, but you need to know what you are doing. If you are comfortable working around motors and can do the research needed online to educate yourself, changing the oil control valve yourself can reduce the total cost.
Be prepared to also complete an oil and filter change at the same time to ensure that there is clean oil in the engine, and any sludge has been removed. For most car owners, having an experienced mechanic perform the work is a better option.
They have the equipment to read the ECM error codes and diagnose the issue. If the VVT solenoid needs to be replaced, it will be completed properly, and they can also change the motor oil and filter at the same time.
What are the variable valve timing systems or VVT systems?
Variable valve timing (VVT) systems are used to optimize engine performance by changing the lift, duration, and overlap of intake or exhaust valves. The VVT system allows engines to operate at different speeds with optimal efficiency for each speed range. This improves fuel economy and reduces emissions from vehicles without sacrificing power output.
Last On Oil Control Valves
A malfunctioning oil control valve OCV may affect the engine’s performance and cause your vehicle to idle roughly, accelerate poorly, and use more gas than usual. Oil control valves are important because they control how much oil flows into the motor.
The check engine light is usually illuminated, and error codes indicate that the OCV is malfunctioning. Vehicles should not be driven with a bad OCV to avoid causing further damage to the internal components of the engine.
In most cases, failure to complete routine oil changes leaves oil sludge inside the engine, which can cause the OCV to stick or fail to operate. Costs to replace the oil control valve vary by make and type of car, from $200 to $400. An OCV change would come after the owner starts noticing a decline in fuel economy or the check engine light comes on.