Your car’s engine has valves which open and close in order to let air and sometimes fuel in and exhaust out of its cylinders in order to produce power. Over time with normal wear and usage, the clearance between these parts and the valve stems deviate from their original measurement, which often leads to a clattering noise or rougher running engine that will increase gradually.
Intake valves open and close to let the air (or air-fuel mixture in carbureted engines) into the combustion chambers, and exhaust valves allow exhaust gases to escape. Too much or too little valve clearance can cause poor performance or rough idle because the engine can no longer breathe normally and operate at maximum efficiency. Over a long time period, this can cause damage to the valves and/or camshafts or rocker arms. Eventually, the valves will no longer fully close, causing excessive heat and leading to a loss of power.
How can you tell if your car needs a valve adjustment? Depending on the age and condition of your vehicle, it could very well be time for a valve adjustment. Cars can vary greatly in the manufacturer’s suggested maintenance period, so as always, the best way to know for sure is to check your owner’s manual. But if you are not sure when your last valve adjustment was done, a loud clattering noise from your engine could be a sign that it is time for a valve clearance adjustment, although some engines will not give this warning sign. The best way to find out is to have it inspected by one of our ASE certified mechanics.
Because adjusting valve clearance requires removing the valve covers and checking both intake and exhaust valves, it is a somewhat intensive process, and can take at least a few hours. If you suspect that you might need a valve adjustment, come in to Orozco’s Auto Service in Long Beach or Bellflower today. Your engine will most likely thank you by running smoother and quieter, becoming more responsive, giving you more miles per gallon, and lasting longer.