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What is an Engine Valve Adjustment?
Let's start with the basics. Engine valves are valves. Hopefully, you know what a valve is. They’re tiny, yet they’re one of the most important and commonly used components in your entire car. The basic concept of an engine valve is simple. Every cylinder in the car’s engine has valves that sit on top of the cylinder. There are intake and exhaust valves. The intake valves let air and fuel (or just air in some cases) into the engine and the exhaust valves let spent gases out.
The camshaft, rocker arms, and valve lifters are responsible for opening the valves, and a spring closes them. Pushrods are also added to the mix on some cars. It’s a basic, but vital process, that is repeated thousands of times every minute. So, if you feel like you had a productive day, just imagine the kind of day your engine valves had.
Over time, the space between the valve and the camshaft can change. When that happens the timing of the valves will be thrown out of whack, and more importantly, the valves may not open and close properly which keeps them from doing their job.
When that happens, it’s time for an engine valve adjustment. An engine valve adjustment doesn’t actually adjust the valve, it simply adjusts the space between the valve and the camshaft, so that all the parts can function properly.
Most modern engines have valves that are self-adjusting, and don’t ever need to be adjusted. If only we could all be so well-evolved.
Signs your Engine Valves need adjusting
Oh, two of your least favorite words ever!
I know. It’s easy to think that scheduled maintenance isn’t important for your car, but it is. And if you ignore it, you’ll end up with some severe consequences. And by “severe” I mean “expensive.”
So, here’s the deal. Many manufacturers call for engine valve adjustments after a certain number of miles. You won’t need them adjusted frequently, but doing so on schedule will keep them preemptively cared for, and save you the pain of finding out that they need adjusting the hard way.
For more on that, have the pleasure of reading on.
Hopefully by now, you’ve figured out that your car isn’t supposed to make noises, other than the roar of the engine and the music from the speakers.
Every other noise is a sign that something isn’t working quite right. Engine valves that need adjusting will make a bizarre noise. It’s usually a tapping or a ticking noise - something in that vein. That’s the noise of your valves picking up the phone, dialing your number, and giving you a bad excuse for why they can’t hang out today.
Engine performance problems
An engine valve adjustment that’s either too loose or too tight can lead to engine performance problems such as rough running and lack of power. Either scenario can cause damage to the engine as well.
How urgent is an Engine Valve Adjustment?
Driving with improperly adjusted engine valves will, over time, cause damage to the valves themselves, and possibly other parts of the engine. These repairs are a bit more expensive than an adjustment, so use your brain here.