Idle Air Control Valve
For many car owners, all we ask of our vehicles is that they get us from point A to point B. We do not ask for incredible speeds, head turning good looks, or an engine loud enough that it's revving can be heard in the next county over. No, for most car owners, the car itself is just the means to the end – a way to get to work, to visit friends, to do errands and enjoy those other freedoms that car ownership provides. So, for car owners, having a recurring problem with a car can be irritating, confusing or even downright life destroying. After all, the boss is only going to let you get away with bursting in late citing "car trouble" as an excuse once or twice before he decides that someone with more reliable transportation could probably do your job just as well as you do. There are many nagging, recurring troubles that a car can have that do not necessarily need expensive fixes or mean you have to replace the whole car. One of these is trouble with the idle control valve.
This has probably happened to most or all of us. We get up in the morning and start the car, but it doesn't seem to want to idle. The engine started up just fine, but after that, the engine's idle speed seems very weak. You may find yourself having to keep your foot pressed down on the accelerator pedal in order to even keep the car running. "Oh no, what is this?" you think. But soon enough, after the engine has had time to warm up, the problem seems to go away. If you are like many busy people, you probably go on your merry way and likely hope that the problem has sort of… resolved itself. Unfortunately, when the same thing starts happening every time you crank the engine, you realize that there is a problem. And, if this sounds like what's been happening to you, the problem is probably the idle control valve.
If you are having this problem, one way to possibly rectify it is to clean the idle control valve. The idle air control valve is fairly easy to remove and can be removed in five minutes time. Cleaning the idle control valve periodically is also good preventative maintenance. Of course, if you do not feel comfortable tinkering with the inside of your car, do not remove and clean the idle control valve. Instead, get a price quote from one or more reliable mechanics or even save money by going to a car savvy friend. A great way to find a reliable mechanic is to ask friends in your area. If the name of one mechanic keeps coming up over and over again, they are probably the one to trust with your idle control valve problem.
So why does the idle control valve have problems? To answer that question, it is important to learn a small history lesson about idle control. In older model cars, manufacturers used to use a totally separate system to control what is called "cold-idle" (what happens when you start your car in the morning.) This worked well and idle problems generally did not happen. Plus, idle could be adjusted with a screwdriver. But, as the automotive industry progressed and turned to cost cutting production measures, car companies began using idle control valves that were integrated with the rest of the functions that are controlled by a car's computer. Now that idle control systems are integrated, idle control valves have to contend with many more forces and are more likely to falter or need cleaning or repair.