Your Complete Guide to the PCV Valve

It’s no secret that regular maintenance is an important part of keeping your vehicle in its best condition. While you make it a priority to stay on top of oil changes, what about the more forgotten parts that are essential to keeping your engine running? The professionals at Kennedy Transmission want to keep you tuned into everything under your vehicle’s hood including the PCV valve. Keep reading for information about the role of the PCV valve and common questions about it’s maintenance. 

What’s a PCV Valve?

PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation, but what exactly does that mean? Your car’s PCV valve is a one-way valve attached to the crankcase that holds motor oil and produces gasses when your engine burns fuel.  

A PCV valve’s main job is to control gas emissions and reroute any gas produced by the crankcase back into your engine’s combustion chambers. By doing so, these gasses can be safely burned without harming your vehicle or the environment. Your car may or may not have a PCV valve but if it does, it’s important to make sure it’s clean and in good condition. Untreated problems within the valve can lead to an increase in oil consumption, generate sludge, create pollution, and ultimately decrease your engine’s performance.  

How To Tell if a PCV Valve is Bad

One of the most obvious signs that your PCV valve needs to be replaced is excess oil consumption. If the valve gets stuck in the open position, excess vapors will be drawn from the crankcase, which results in your car burning more oil than normal. In addition, oil-stained spark plugs and oil spots under your car are likely indicators that something isn’t right. If you’re wondering whether a PCV valve will cause an oil leak, the answer is yes. So be sure to check under the hood if oil stains are appearing on your garage floor. 

Not only can you identify problems with visual cues, but a disconnected or damaged PCV valve can cause your engine to make strange sounds. Whirring or whistling noises can be caused by air escaping out of the valve or the valve’s hose hole. Strange noises coming from under the hood can be caused by a variety of things so it’s important to not let these go unchecked. 

How To Test a PCV Valve

Checking your PCV valve is an easy task that can be completed at home and once out of the car, you can run a few tests to know for certain if this is the root of your vehicle issues. After removing and cleaning the valve, shake it and listen for clicking sounds from the metal plunger inside. If you don’t hear anything, the plunger is either missing or stuck and needs to be replaced. 

You can also remove the PCV valve from the valve cover with the hose still attached and place your finger over the open end. If you feel a strong suction, the valve is working correctly. If the suction is weak or non-existent, an obstruction is present in the valve.

If you’ve discovered your PCV valve is in need of replacement, don’t worry. The fix is simple and can be completed by a professional or even by you at home!

How often should you replace your PCV valve?

There isn’t a specific lifespan for a PCV valve but you can usually plan to replace it anywhere between 20,000 and 50,000 of driving. Similar to many other parts of your car, regular maintenance will extend the life of your PCV valve while neglecting regular oil changes and signs of trouble will shorten it. 

The PCV valve likely isn’t high on your list of maintenance items but a bad valve can lead to other problems including performance and emission problems. If the issues are caused by a valve that is just dirty, there’s an easy fix. Simply remove the PCV valve from the valve cover and immerse it in carburetor cleaner. A clean valve will have no gummy deposits or discoloration. If the valve is beyond help from being cleaned, it’s time for a replacement.

Whether you replace the valve yourself or opt to have it taken care of by a professional during your next maintenance appointment, a clean, new valve will help your vehicle run smoother. 

Schedule Vehicle Maintenance With Kennedy Transmission Today!

From cross country road trips to short drives across town, keeping your vehicle in its best condition is essential to ensuring its longevity. While the PCV valve doesn’t seem like it plays a major role, neglecting it can lead to other issues that in the long run can affect your engine and vehicle’s overall performance. 

Thankfully, the knowledgeable technicians at Kennedy Transmission are equipped to not only tackle regular maintenance tasks, but address any additional issues that may arise. Visit our Bloomington or Minneapolis locations or find a Kennedy Transmission Auto Shop closest to you today!

Recent Posts
Skip to content