Change Your Own PCV Valve


What’s a PCV Valve?

The Positive Crankcase Ventilation Valve is a small valve on your car’s engine. Your car runs on the combustion of gasoline – but not all of the injected gasoline vapour gets burned. The PCV Valve is a device that routes unburned gas back into the engine. It’s critical for reducing harmful emissions and it saves fuel. The valve also reduces the buildup of engine sludge, which occurs when gas vapours mix with the oil that lubricates the engine.

Why Should I Change It?

The reason it needs changing is that sludge buildup reduces the effectiveness of the part. If it doesn’t move freely or the airflow is blocked up, that’s bad news for your fuel economy, for your engine’s longevity, and for the environment.

How Often Should I Change It?

Well, not very often apparently. I’ve read estimates that it should be changed at intervals of as little as 30,000 kilometers and as many as 100,000 kilometers. I have a 2003 Malibu. I’ll just be honest and say that it needed a new PCV.

How Much Does It Cost?

Ah, yes – the most important question.

“Lickity-Split Lube”-type places will probably want to charge you a lot to change this little part. Their fee could be anywhere from $10 to $30 (with an emphasis on the higher end, and possibly even more if they think you’re dumb enough, such as the Torontonians who paid $80 and up for a new cabin air filter at Mr. Lube).

A PCV Valve should not cost you anywhere near $30. And the labour isn’t complex enough to warrant a high price either. Changing the PCV valve, at least on a normal domestic, takes about 5 minutes if you already know where the valve goes. Paying upwards of $20 is ridiculous.

Today, I’m going to show you how I changed the PCV Valve on my trusty ‘Bu.

What You’ll Need

  • A new PCV Valve. I got a new PCV Valve at Canadian Tire for $4.99 plus HST.

PCV Valve from Cdn Tire

  • Pliers. Maybe. I read online that pliers are important in case the PCV Valve is difficult to remove from the engine. I didn’t need to use my pliers at all.
  • Shop towels. I found these to be particularly useful. Everything is greasy under the hood. More importantly, you’ll want to use these towels to thoroughly clean out all of the connecting parts before you replace the PCV Valve.

How to Replace the Valve

OK. We’re ready. That’s actually probably too much planning and discussion for what I’m about to do. It’s srsly that easy.

Pop the hood. If you drive a lame import like a Toyota or Hyundai you won’t see an engine as awesome as mine. The PCV Valve is near the top side of the silver manifold, at the far right.

Pull the PCV Valve out of its rubber gasket (that holds it in the manifold). At this point, the PCV Valve will still be connected to a hose.

After unplugging it from the gasket (picture center), I disconnected it from the hose (now hanging just above the gasket). In my hand is the PCV Valve and an elbow-shaped black tube to which the valve is connected.

Disconnect the PCV Valve from the rubber elbow tube (I don’t know if most engines have this extra tube).

This is a top-down view of the old PCV Valve. As you can see (perhaps not as clearly as in real life), there is a lot of sludge buildup in the part. When a PCV Valve is shaken, it should rattle, since the valve inside needs to move to emit gases. When I shook this PCV Valve, it barely moved.

Here’s the youthful PCV Valve and with its aged counterpart. The part number for the PCV Valve (very difficult to read in this picture despite my best efforts) is 2191. This is the same number printed on the valve that I removed from the engine. Always check the part number. This is kind of a last ditch defence against pulling the wrong piece out of your engine. As you can see, these two pieces are identical, except that the old one (on the right) is in really rough shape. They’re otherwise exactly the same – right down to the “Made in USA” stamp. #### yeah.

Now it’s time for the real hard work – cleaning. Your new PCV Valve shouldn’t need to be cleaned. But the parts that connect to the PCV Valve – the gasket on the manifold and the rubber tube – will probably have a lot of gunk built up inside. Grab a shop towel and clean them up! I also cleaned the connections on the rubber elbow that I removed with the valve.

After cleaning the rubber elbow, I reconnected it to the valve, in preparation for installation.

I then connected the PCV Valve’s rubber elbow to the hose, and plugged the PCV Valve back into the gasket on the manifold.

There you have it! The cost was five bucks (well, $5.64) and a few shop towels. My engine runs cleaner, my fuel economy is better, and my car will live longer. Thanks Made-in-America PCV Valves!

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10 Comments… Share your views

  1. Nice :) While I hope I’ll never have to do something like this myself I am glad to know it isn’t hard to do. (I would totally be asking some male relative to help me out with car stuff like this. I hope it doesn’t sound sexist.) I imagine the toughest part was determining which part to pull out of your engine. Also super awesome that it cost so little to do.

    Dang it’s monday… (Awaiting my weekly dose of cute puppies lol)

    • lol it’s not sexist but you should really consider trying it sometime, even if you have a knowledgeable guy/gal around to make sure nothing goes wrong. You’ll feel much more competent (even though for me to be able to do it, it has to be EXTREMELY simple lol)

  2. JackBraithwaite May 7, 2012 at 8:37 pm

    Great job! Although I would personally stay away from any Fram products after terrible experiences with their oil filters. Fram oil filters are definite proof that lower prices on auto parts aren’t always a good thing.

    Lol “Next time, on a very special ‘Joe’s Garage’…”

    • lol worst show ever. I’d change the PCV valve, an air filter, the windshield wipers, and an oil and filter. It could only really be called “Joe’s Quicky Lube” which sounds kind of terrible in a couple ways. I could rotate tires and switch winters for summers, but I don’t have a good set of jack stands :S Oh yeah, nvm on the oil and filter for now hahah

      I’ve already bought my synthetic oil for my next change on sale for $22 for 4.4L. I’d buy a MotoMaster filter, but they’re manufactured by FRAM anyway lol. The next 5-minute car work I’ll do is definitely going to be the air filter. I took a glance today, and there are a lot of dead bugs, and a lot of dirt in the compartment.

  3. actually nice timing of this post. I just bought brake pads for my car to replace it myself. Lot of people think it would a difficult job. But after watching you tube videos it looks like a matter of simply clipping in the pads. Of course you need to be careful to follow all the steps correctly. But I guess this is where the mechanics take advantage and quote you 3 times the price of the pads themselves and you still are not sure what pads they have replaced it with. A very decent OEM brand (Made in Japan) front and rear pads with tax costed me $145 at lordco. To replace it is going to take about 1.5 hour of my time. The quote I got from Budget Brake and muffler was 320+taxes. I got the inspiration from a girl at work who said she replaces the brake pads herself and never had a problem.
    By the way I change the engine oil myself. Although it does not save me a lot of money it gives me more satisfaction.

    • Saving money is awesome – you’re right that the markup is just so ridiculous. If it was reasonable and reflected the time that the work took it’d be reasonable but typically it doesn’t. They also make a huuuge markup on the parts that they get at half the cost you or I would pay. Around here, oil changes cost about $40 but the 5w30 is non-synthetic. I bought 4.4l of synthetic for $22. Only saves 10 bucks but the car gets better oil, mileage and protection. Good luck and good work.

  4. I really appreciate this article man. Its super helpful, has all the info. And makes an easy job REALLY easy. Thanks.

    • Hey Joshua, no problem. Thanks for leaving a thank-you comment. I see that people use this “how-to” article daily. I realize most are trying to do a simple repair or are in a rush so they’re not going to take the time to leave a thank you. But that is very polite of you.

  5. The person(s) that wrote this info really need to do their homework prior to writing on such a vast topic. I have a customer that now thinks we (an automotive repair facility) are taking advantage of them after reading this article. On most vehicles, this is a fairly simple procedure. however, on others its not. Some maufacturers have moved the PCV valve to very difficult locations (2007 mazda cx& 2.3L turbo). This PCV is located under the intake manifild, which requires removal of said intake manifold to gain access to it. While I understancd that this article is an Example of the procedure, your not so intelligent readers will assume that all PCv valve replacement procedures are this simple.

    • Your comment obscures the fact that the vast majority of PCV valve replacements are simple. Are there exceptions? Of course, and most of those are the result of horrid design that intelligent consumers would not reward with their purchases.

      The fact that shops do charge significant amounts for this service is a scam, and your indignant response says more about you than my readers. You sound like more than an auto mechanic — perhaps you’re a used car salesperson?

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