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Oil Control Valves: How to Know When It’s Time to Replace Them

Oil Control Valves

You know that your car’s engine has oil flowing through it at all times when you have your vehicle turned on. But do you know which parts are used to control the flow of oil through your engine? Chances are, you don’t. But you should learn more about them so that you can be sure your engine is getting the oil it needs when you have your car running. For example, you should educate yourself on the oil control valves found in cars and see what part they play in the well-being of your engine. Check out everything you need to know about oil control valves below and then see how you’ll be able to tell when it’s time to replace them.

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What Is an Oil Control Valve?

Oil control valves aren’t found in all vehicles. But they are usually located in cars that have engines with variable valve timing systems in them. They’re designed to help improve the performance of an engine and make it possible for an engine to get better gas mileage with fewer emissions. They also protect a lot of the moving parts that are positioned inside of an engine.


Although oil control valves aren’t very big, they’re responsible for controlling how much oil is allowed to flow into the camshaft of a car’s engine. They open and close as necessary to provide a camshaft with the oil that it needs to do its job. With this in mind, it shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to hear that an engine could suffer in a big way if oil control valves go bad. Bad oil control valves will stop an engine from getting enough oil and could cause all kinds of complications.

How Does an Oil Control Valve Work?

Now that you have a slightly better idea as far as what it is that oil control valves are, you should learn a little more about how it is that they work. This way, there is a better chance that you’ll be able to tell when they stop working so that you can spring into action and do something about it.


The oil control valve in a car’s engine is connected directly to the engine control module, which is better known as the ECM. The ECM communicates with an oil control valve and lets it know how much oil that it needs to allow into the camshaft of an engine at any given time. An oil control valve then opens and closes accordingly to give the camshaft the oil that it needs based on what it’s told by the ECM. All of this plays out in a matter of milliseconds and keeps the right amount of oil flowing through a car’s engine.


The problem is that, at some point, an oil control valve will go bad and stop doing what an ECM tells it to do. This will either send too much oil into the camshaft of an engine or prevent the camshaft of an engine from getting enough oil. Either way, it’s going to be bad news for a car’s engine, which won’t get the right dosage of oil, and it’ll cut down on the engine’s performance. Replacing a bad oil control valve is the only surefire way to fix this issue and get things back to normal again.

How Long Do Oil Control Valves Last?

One of the tricky parts about dealing with oil control valves is that it’s not always easy to tell how long they’re going to last. There really isn’t a specific length of time that you can expect an oil control valve to stick around. It all depends on everything from how well you maintain your car to what type of car you have. An oil control valve could last you for the entire time that you own a vehicle or give out on you randomly with very little warning.


With this in mind, it’s going to be extra important for you to look out for some of the signs that will show you that your oil control valves are on their way out. You’re not going to come into contact with an oil control valve very often because of where it’s positioned inside of your car. But you should be able to spot some signs that will indicate trouble with it. It’ll be up to you to keep your eyes peeled for these signs so that you don’t miss them and continue to drive around in a car with bad oil control valves.

What Are the Symptoms of a Bad Oil Control Valve?

We just touched on how important it’s going to be for drivers to look out for any signs of bad oil control valves. Now, we’d like to shed some light on what some of these signs are and how you can diagnose issues with oil control valves. There are actually all kinds of symptoms that should start to appear when you have bad oil control valves on your hands.


One of the first things that’ll usually happen when you have a bad oil control valve is that your check engine light will pop on. Your car’s computer will sense that there is a problem with an oil control valve in your car and let you know about it through the use of your check engine light. But this is just one of the many symptoms of a bad oil control valve. Check out several of the others here:

  • Your car might accelerate a lot slower than you would anticipate it would when you step on the gas pedal
  • Your car’s braking system might not deliver the performance you desire when you step on the brake pedal
  • You might smell a strange odor coming from the general direction of your engine
  • Your car might stop getting the kind of fuel economy that it normally gets
  • You might begin to experience more serious issues with your car’s engine

If you find that any of these issues are plaguing your car, you shouldn’t hesitate to have your vehicle checked out. Driving around with bad oil control valves in your vehicle is almost never a good idea since it could lead to even more problems down the line.

Should You Continue to Drive a Car With a Bad Control Valve?

When you first start to experience issues with a bad oil control valve in your car, you might not even notice it. It’s not going to be the end of the world if you keep on driving your car around. But as problems with oil control valves begin to get worse and worse, it’ll only be a matter of time before you put your car into danger by continuing to drive it. This is why you need to try to catch a bad oil control valve before it spirals out of control.


If you push a vehicle with a bad oil control valve too far, you’re going to have to deal with more than just poor fuel economy and some decreased engine performance. You could be looking at making some very expensive engine repairs before everything is all said and done. You should, therefore, stop driving a car as soon as you suspect problems with an oil control valve and have it checked out by a professional.

Where Should You Take a Car With a Bad Oil Control Valve for Service?

If you believe there to be a bad oil control valve in your vehicle, you might want to think about taking it to an engine specialist to have them inspect it. They should be able to take one look at your car and let you know if you have an issue with an oil control valve. But you can also take your car to almost any ASE-certified mechanic to have them evaluable your oil control valve and your engine as a whole. They can tell you if they think you need to do oil control valve replacement.


You should also make sure that you’re taking your car to a mechanic for regular oil changes so that you don’t have to worry as much about dealing with bad oil control valves. By changing your oil routinely, you’ll prevent dirt and debris from building up in your car’s oil, which will keep the oil flowing smoothly through your system. It’ll work wonders for your oil control valves since any build up could stop these valves from doing their jobs. 

Can You Replace a Bad Oil Control Valve Yourself?

There are some people out there who choose to do oil changes on their own. Some of these same people will also try to tackle oil control valve replacement by themselves. If you know a little bit about working on cars, you might be able to get away with replacing oil control valves on your own. But if you’re never worked in or around a car’s engine before, replacing oil control valves is not a job that you should take on by yourself.


If you replace an oil control valve on your own and don’t do it properly, it could result in your car’s engine being flooded with oil or not getting the oil it needs. Both of these situations could be catastrophic for your vehicle and could eventually cause engine components to wear down and stop working. You’re better off leaving oil control valve replacement to someone who knows what they’re doing. They’ll get to work on your oil control valves and replace them if they’ve done bad.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Bad Oil Control Valve?

While you might be able to save some money by replacing a bad oil control valve on your own, the good news for those who don’t want to tackle the task themselves is that it’s not that costly to pay someone else to do it. When you think about what an important responsibility a car’s oil control valve has, replacing one is actually a pretty affordable auto repair job in the grand scheme of things.


An oil control valve itself is usually going to run you somewhere between $200 and $400, depending on what make and model car you have. The labor associated with replacing an oil control valve will then fluctuate between $100 and $200. That brings the total cost of an oil control valve to between $300 to $600. It’ll be a small price to pay for a part that regulates the flow of oil in your vehicle.

Is the Oil Control Valve Replacement Cost Worth It?

As long as you’re planning on keeping your current car and continuing to drive it around, paying $300 to $600 for oil control valve replacement will be well worth it. It’ll ensure that your car’s engine will continue to get the oil that it needs day in and day out. You shouldn’t hesitate at all to replace an oil control valve at the first sign of trouble.


If, however, you’re not sure how much longer you’re going to keep your old car, then replacing a bad oil control valve might not be worth it to you. You don’t want to spend upwards of $500 or more on a repair job when your car isn’t worth that much. You also don’t want to spend that much money on oil control valve replacement if there is a chance that a bad oil control valve may have done damage to your engine. The cost associated with doing an oil control valve replacement just won’t be worth it to you.

Can You Sell a Car When It Has a Bad Oil Control Valve?

Did you just find out that your old car has a bad oil control valve in it? Rather than running out and fixing it, you may want to consider selling your car. Selling it to a private buyer might prove to be a challenge. But there are junk car buyers that will give you top dollar for your car, even if it has a bad oil control valve in it.


Cash Cars Buyer can make you a strong offer for your car, bad oil control valve and all. We also buy cars that have all kinds of other issues with them. Contact us now to get more information on our junk car services.

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