An idle air control valve, also called an idle air sensor control motor, is an electrically operated valve that controls the amount of air that bypasses the throttle plate in cars with a fuel injection system [source: Autozone]. This causes the idling speed of the engine to change as needed. The computer in the car that governs this function receives information from the air sensor and determines the amount of air that the idle air valve allows to pass through it and bypass the throttle plate. A defect in the idle air control can cause poor idling or even stalling of the engine. A coating of carbon may accumulate in the idle air control, and cause malfunctioning. It must, therefore, be cleaned at regular intervals. It's advisable to clean the idle air sensor control motor even if there are no problems evident, in order to prevent dirt from caking up [source: 2Carpros]. Here we will look at how to clean the idle air control valve.
- Make sure the car engine is off and quite cool before you begin.
- Locate the idle air control valve under the hood. Its precise position will depend on your car, it but it will probably be on top of the throttle body. It has a sensor and electrical wires attached to it. Check the owner's manual for the exact location.
- Unscrew the idle air control valve by removing the screws that hold it to the throttle body. Detach any wires coming from the valve so you can remove it completely.
- Clean the valve by soaking it in gasoline. Move the flap in the valve while it's soaking, to ensure the gasoline reaches inside it.
- Drain off the gasoline.
- Dry the valve well by blowing compressed air into it.
- Check that the flap moves easily.
- Replace the idle air control valve, reattaching it with the screws and reconnecting all wires [source: Berenis].
Originally Published: May 19, 2011