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.
- 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!