How to Clean the Idle Air Sensor Control Motor

By: HowStuffWorks.com Contributors  | 

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.

  1. Make sure the car engine is off and quite cool before you begin.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Drain off the gasoline.
  6. Dry the valve well by blowing compressed air into it.
  7. Check that the flap moves easily.
  8. Replace the idle air control valve, reattaching it with the screws and reconnecting all wires [source: Berenis].

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Originally Published: May 19, 2011

Idle Air Control Valve FAQ

What is an idle air control valve?
An idle air control (IAC) valve is a mechanical device that controls the amount of air entering the throttle plate in fuel injection-based vehicles. UThis mechanism helps control the RPM of the engine.
How do I know if my idle air control valve is bad?
If the idle air control valve malfunctions, you'll notice RPM fluctuations and sometimes even stalling of the engine. When you physically check the valve, you will notice a coating of carbon accumulating in it.
What does the idle air control valve do?
Essentially, the idle air control valve controls how much air enters the throttle which allows you to change the RPM of the engine according to your requirements.
How do you check an IAC valve?
The IAC valve is located under the hood, but its exact location depends on your car's make and model. However, it’s always located on top of the throttle body, attached to a sensor via multiple wires.
How do you clean an IAC valve?
After relocating the IAC valve, you need to unscrew it and detach all the wires. You can clean it by soaking it in gasoline and blowing compressed air into it. Then, reattach it with the screws and reconnect the wires.

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