Why the Air Control Valve is Important for Your Car

Car Stalling

There are many sensors, valves, modules, fuses, and other components that keep your car running smoothly. Some of these components are required to function properly for vehicle to run, while others will cause a vehicle to run rough if they become faulty. One of these important components is the idle air control valve. Below, we’ll explain what it does and why it’s important to have yours functioning properly.

What is the Idle Air Control Valve?

This valve, when functioning properly, will control the engine’s idle speed. It does this by regulating the amount of airflow to the engine when it is idling. There is a coil in the valve that opens and closes to regulate this air flow. Being controlled electronically means that the proper amount of air is maintained during changes in the load on the engine.

Why is the Idle Air Control Valve Important?

This air control valve is important for many reasons. Regulating air flow is essential for a smooth and safe running engine. The Air Control Valve:

  • Ensures the engine doesn’t jerk to a halt when the acceleration and RPM’s of the vehicle change, especially when decreasing.
  • Keeps a proper air to fuel mixture, so the engine isn’t getting more than it needs of one or the other. An imbalance in this mix can cause it to have too much fuel or be starved for fuel, making the vehicle spit and sputter.
  • Controls air flow when air density changes. When the air density changes it can cause less air flow if there is no regulator to keep things moving. The vehicle’s ECM adjusts the control valve automatically for air flow at different altitudes and temperatures. This should happen smoothly so that you never notice the difference.
  • RPM variance – the air control valve detects raises and drops in the idling RPM’s and adjusts air flow accordingly.

All of these things can cause your vehicle to run rough, get poor gas mileage, or not run at all when the air control valve is not functioning properly. This makes it important to keep in good working condition.

Detecting Problems

Generally, the air control valve should last as long as the vehicle. However, this is not always the case and problems do occasionally arise. These are just a few of the more common symptoms that are seen or experienced.

Check Engine Light

This is probably the most clear sign that you are experiencing difficulties. It is not, however, a guarantee that it is the air control valve. It is simply alerting you that your vehicle needs to be checked up on. When you see this light, you should take your vehicle to a qualified professional to be diagnosed.

Inconsistent Idle or Frequent Stalling

Experiencing a rough idle or frequent stalling is a potential sign of air control valve problems. This sign will probably be the most frustrating because you may not be able to keep your vehicle running at all times.


This symptom is caused by excessive fuel coming through the exhaust pipe, making a loud sound like a gunshot. Not only will you become annoyed, but you will startle the other drivers around you. It is not exactly a safe operating condition either, as the combination of fuel, heat, and sparks can cause a more damaging explosion besides just a simple backfire.

Experiencing any or all of these symptoms is a sure sign that your vehicle is not operating at its peak performance, meaning it needs a check-up from a qualified service professional. Many times these signs point to a damaged or faulty air control valve, and they should not be ignored or put off.

We Are Here to Help

Mechanic Checking Car Engine It is always best to have a qualified professional check your vehicle out at regular service intervals. This can help prevent the breakdown and failure of many of the components in a vehicle’s lifetime. Regular maintenance can help a service technician spot problems like faulty air control valves early, helping prevent further damage.

Our staff at Pro Car Mechanics, convenient to Gardena, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Glendale, and Anaheim, CA will be happy to help with all your questions and service needs. Whether you need routine maintenance or suspect something is wrong with your air control valve, we can diagnose and solve the problem quickly to get you back on the road.

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