Engine Valve Adjustments
When was the last time that you had your vehicle's valves adjusted? Known as a valve adjustment or valve clearance adjustment, it's a routine form of maintenance recommended for most vehicles with a combustion engine. Unfortunately, it's also something that many motorists overlook. It's not until they experience problems with their vehicle that they realize the need for a valve adjustment. To learn more about valve adjustments and how they work, keep reading.
The Basics of a Valve Adjustment
So, what is a valve adjustment exactly? To better understand this maintenance procedure, you must first look at the valve system of a typical combustion engine. The valve system consists of pushrods, lifters and rocker arms. Supported by lifters and rocker arms, the pushrods move up and down to open the intake valve. Over time, however, it's not uncommon for the clearance between these components to increase (or decrease in some cases). A valve adjustment, however, is designed to move the valves into the appropriate position, thereby eliminating problems associated with excessive clearance.
Signs Your Vehicle Needs a Valve Adjustment
If your vehicle's engine needs a valve adjustment, you may hear a loud clanging or clinking sound originating in the engine bay. This occurs because of the valves large clearance space. Since the pushrods aren't secure in place, they don't glide smoothly up and down.
Another common sign your vehicle's engine needs a valve adjustment is rough idling. If the valves don't open the intake and exhaust at the right time, it will restrict airflow into the engine, which may manifest as rough idling.
Incorrect valve clearance can also lead to oil consumption. If you notice the level on your vehicle's dipstick gradually lowering, you should consider taking your vehicle to the shop for a valve inspection, and if necessary, a valve adjustment as well.
When to Get a Valve Inspection
You should refer to your owner's manual to find out when, exactly, your vehicle's valves should be inspected by a mechanic. Some automakers recommend a valve inspection every 60,000 miles, whereas others recommend a valve inspection every 100,000 miles. During an inspection, a professional mechanic will determine whether your vehicle's engine needs a valve adjustment.
How Much Does a Valve Adjustment Cost
The cost of a valve adjustment varies depending on several factors, including the make and model of your vehicle, the mechanic from whom you purchase the service, your geographic location and more. With that said, the average cost of a valve adjustment is about $150 to $300, assuming no other work or parts are required.