A variable valve timing solenoid is responsible for the distribution of oil in the engine based on the timing. Over time, these things can get clogged especially if you don’t change your oil frequently.
The variable valve timing solenoid can get sludge and debris that will prevent it from opening and closing properly. This will result in the engine not getting enough oil on time.
Also, you might experience performance issues with your vehicle from ticking and pinging noises, sluggish idle, bad fuel economy, as well as a check engine light. This is all because the variable valve timing solenoid is not distributing lubricant properly.
Many car owners decide to change their variable valve timing solenoid. However, before you change the VVT solenoid, you can try and clean it.
In this article, I am going over how to clean a variable valve timing solenoid at home.
- Key Takeaway
- What Does Variable Valve Timing Solenoid Do?
- How To Clean A Variable Valve Timing Solenoid
- Signs of a Dirty Variable Valve Timing Solenoid
- What Causes a Variable Valve Timing Solenoid To Get Dirty
- Q: What is a variable valve timing solenoid?
- Q: What are the symptoms of a bad variable valve timing solenoid?
- Q: How can I clean a variable valve timing solenoid?
- Q: What can cause a variable valve timing solenoid to get clogged?
- Q: Can a bad or failing variable valve timing solenoid affect engine performance?
- Q: How does a variable valve timing solenoid work?
- Q: Where is a variable valve timing solenoid located?
- Q: Can I clean the VVT solenoid myself or should I consult a mechanic?
- Q: What are the possible causes of a bad variable valve timing solenoid?
- Q: How can I determine if my variable valve timing solenoid is bad?
- Q: What should I do if my variable valve timing solenoid is not working properly?
- In Conclusion
- The Variable Valve Timing (VVT) solenoid uses oil pressure to control the valve timing mechanism, precisely regulating the oil pressure supplied to the camshaft’s phaser or actuator, enabling adjustments to the timing of a valve lift event to optimize engine performance.
- To clean a Variable Valve Timing Solenoid, you need to remove it from the engine, spray it with a suitable cleaner like degreaser or gasoline, use a brush to scrub off any debris, and then wipe it clean with a cloth before reinstalling it.
What Does Variable Valve Timing Solenoid Do?
Variable valve timing solenoid is in charge of lubricating the camshaft by providing a steady flow of pressurized oil going through the passages on the sonar head and into the camshaft.
Based on the engine load, the vehicle computer will either allow the oil to pass through the solenoid into the camshaft and advance the timing or slow the timing by not allowing the pressurized oil to move any further.
Modern vehicles work by using the pressurized oil that’s already running through the engine in combination with solenoids to run pressurized oil to the camshaft and adjust the timing.
Most modern vehicles use uses oil pressure to activate the variable cams in them. If the oil pressure is too low and doesn’t get up to the top of the cams, it can often trigger error codes and make the car run poorly.
The passages on the variable valve timing solenoid are small. Not changing your engine oil on time may lead to the VVT solenoid becoming filled with gunk. Sometimes just really dirty oil will clog up the system that runs the variable valve timing. So, a lot of times you can try changing the oil and filter to see if that fixes the issue.
However, even though many car owners immediately replace their VVT solenoids with brand new ones, I suggest you first try and clean them and see if that is going to fix the problem.
How To Clean A Variable Valve Timing Solenoid
- Locate the variable valve timing solenoid by checking the owner’s manual.
- Remove the bolt that holds the VVT solenoid.
- Pull the VVT solenoid out.
- Spray the VVT solenoid with a mass airflow cleaner.
- Let it dry completely.
- Reinstall it.
The reason why I like to use a mass airflow sensor cleaner is that it is not too corrosive to be used on something like a variable valve timing solenoid.
1. Required materials
- Mass airflow sensor cleaner
- 10mm socket
- Safety goggles
2. Locate the variable valve timing solenoid
The variable valve timing solenoid is usually located around the valve cover. It could be on top of the valve, behind the valve, or on the front side of the valve area.
You can also check the owner’s manual and see the exact location of the VVT solenoid. Make sure that the engine is not hot while you work on it to avoid burning your hands.
3. Disconnect and remove the VVT solenoid
In order to disconnect the variable valve timing solenoid, you need to detach the electrical harness connection simply by pulling it off.
Then, you will find a bolt holding the solenoid in place. Usually, the size of the bold holding the VVT solenoid is 10mm. However, the size might vary depending on your car’s make and model.
Grab the appropriate socket and remove the bolt. Then, loosen the solenoid by turning it left and right and then pull it out. The VVT solenoid might be a little bit hard to remove because of a rubber seal that prevents oil from leaking out.
4. Spray it down with mass airflow sensor cleaner
With your gloves and safety goggles on, grab the variable valve timing solenoid and wipe it with a clean towel. Then, spray the solenoid down with the mass airflow sensor.
Make sure that you spray the cleaner in all of the holes. Repeat spraying until there is no gunk or dirt coming out. In order to really clean the solenoid well, you will have to connect it to a battery and make it open and close.
So, grab two alligator clip test leads and attach them to the electrical connection of the variable valve timing solenoid. Make sure that the positive and negative are not touching. Then, connect the other end of the alligator clips to a car battery to make the solenoid open and close.
5. Let the VVT solenoid dry
Once the variable valve timing solenoid has been cleaned and wiped, you need to let it dry before installing it. The mass airflow sensor cleaner cleans out pretty quickly. However, if you used WD40 or a valve cleaner, you might have to wait a little bit longer says Veloster.
6. Test the variable valve timing solenoid
After cleaning and drying the variable valve timing solenoid, you should perform a test. You can either manually move it or verify that the solenoid is moving freely. Or, you can test it using two alligator clips and a battery.
7. Reinstall the variable valve timing solenoid
After you verify that the variable valve timing solenoid is working properly, you need to reinstall it. Put the solenoid back in place and reinstall the bolt. Then, reattach the electrical harness.
8. Delete any error codes
A dirty or faulty variable valve timing solenoid can give out many error codes and a check engine light. So, after you are done with the cleaning and you have verified that the VVT solenoid works fine, it is time to connect your vehicle to a diagnostic tool and delete the error codes. If you don’t have a diagnostic tool, you can order one on amazon.com.
Signs of a Dirty Variable Valve Timing Solenoid
- Check Engine Light coming on
- Dirty engine oil
- Rough engine idle
- Decreased fuel efficiency
- A rattling noise from the engine
- Performance drop during acceleration
- RPM fluctuations
- Poor engine performance
- Visible engine wear and tear.
What Causes a Variable Valve Timing Solenoid To Get Dirty
- Poor Quality Oil: Using low-quality engine oil can lead to the accumulation of sludge and particles, which can clog the VVT solenoid over time.
- Infrequent Oil Changes: Not the engine oil regularly can result in the build-up of debris and dirt in the oil, which can then get into the VVT solenoid.
- Engine Wear and Tear: As an engine ages, tiny metal particles can break off from the internal components and mix with the engine oil, potentially clogging the VVT solenoid.
- Contaminants in Oil: The presence of contaminants in the oil can also lead to a dirty VVT solenoid. These contaminants could be due to a damaged air filter, allowing dirt and dust to enter the engine.
- Faulty Oil Filter: A malfunctioning oil filter won’t effectively remove impurities from the oil, leading to dirt and debris reaching the VVT solenoid.
Q: What is a variable valve timing solenoid?
A: A variable valve timing solenoid, also known as a VVT solenoid, is a component of the engine that controls the timing of the valves. It is responsible for adjusting the camshaft timing, allowing the engine to operate more efficiently.
Q: What are the symptoms of a bad variable valve timing solenoid?
A: Some common symptoms of a bad VVT solenoid include rough idle, decreased fuel economy, engine performance issues, and a check engine light illuminated on the dashboard.
Q: How can I clean a variable valve timing solenoid?
A: To clean a VVT solenoid, you can use a specific solenoid cleaner or simply clean it with engine oil. It is important to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and recommended cleaning methods.
Q: What can cause a variable valve timing solenoid to get clogged?
A: A VVT solenoid can become clogged due to engine oil sludge build-up, debris or contaminants in the engine oil, or a faulty VVT system.
Q: Can a bad or failing variable valve timing solenoid affect engine performance?
A: Yes, a bad or failing VVT solenoid can negatively affect engine performance. It can cause rough idle, decreased power, and overall poor engine performance.
Q: How does a variable valve timing solenoid work?
A: A VVT solenoid works by controlling the timing of the intake and exhaust valves. It uses oil pressure to open and close the valves at the precise time, adjusting the engine’s performance and efficiency.
Q: Where is a variable valve timing solenoid located?
A: The location of a VVT solenoid can vary depending on the engine and vehicle make and model. It is usually located on or near the valve cover.
Q: Can I clean the VVT solenoid myself or should I consult a mechanic?
A: While it is possible to clean a VVT solenoid yourself, it is recommended to consult a mechanic if you are unsure or inexperienced. A mechanic can provide proper diagnostics and ensure the solenoid is working properly.
Q: What are the possible causes of a bad variable valve timing solenoid?
A: Some possible causes of a bad VVT solenoid include clogged oil passages, faulty wiring or connectors, low engine oil pressure, or a malfunctioning VVT control module.
Q: How can I determine if my variable valve timing solenoid is bad?
A: If you are experiencing symptoms such as rough idle, decreased power, or a check engine light, it is recommended to have your vehicle diagnosed by a mechanic. They can determine if the VVT solenoid is the cause of the issue.
Q: What should I do if my variable valve timing solenoid is not working properly?
A: If your VVT solenoid is not working properly, it is best to have it replaced by a qualified mechanic. They can ensure that the new solenoid is properly installed and functioning correctly.
If the variable valve timing solenoid is bad on your vehicle, follow the step-by-step guide provided above and try to see if cleaning the VVT solenoid will solve your problem.
However, if after you cleaned the solenoid, the vehicle is still running poorly, it’s best if you go ahead and replace the solenoid with a new one.