Man is Preparing for Valve Adjustment — Automotive Services in Reno, NV

Understanding Why Valves Need Adjustment

When your car first leaves the factory, the engine is perfectly aligned. Over time, as you spend more miles on the road, the moving parts within the engine will settle into slightly different patterns. This resettling is normal, but also means that parts like valves need to be realigned periodically. The valves in your engine open and close through a complex, precisely timed system. They open to accept fuel into the cylinder, close to form compression and open again to release exhaust. Without an adjustment, they may not open and close efficiently, reducing your car's overall performance. 

Checking Your Car's Maintenance Schedule

Not all cars will need preventative valve adjustments in their lifetimes. Models equipped with hydraulic systems, for example, will correct themselves. Older or less advanced models still require a manual adjustment.

The maintenance schedule will depend on both the design of the car and how you drive it. In most cases, auto manufacturers are aware of this necessary maintenance. A valve adjustment after a certain mileage may be a standard part of your car's service schedule.

Check your owner's manual to learn about the expected maintenance for your car's make and model.

Recognizing the Early Signs of Misaligned Valves

Once your valves start to lose their proper clearance, they'll be easy to notice. Your car may have a rough time idling, especially before it has time to warm up. This rough idling is caused by the valve opening late, choking off fuel. Stalling after a cold start is common. In other cases, you may hear a loud rattling noise as the valve knocks against the side of the shaft. Since some symptoms often disappear after the car warms up, they're easier to ignore. But ignoring these warning signs may end up costing you more through lost performance and gas mileage. 

Driving Your Car With Too Much Clearance

In cases where your valves close too quickly, your engine will lose compression and begin to perform poorly. This is called clearance. Too much clearance causes a rattling sound and lackluster acceleration. Driving with too much clearance leads to less overall damage than driving with tight clearance. But, it should still be taken care of quickly and before your car's performance suffers. 

Driving Your Car With Valves Too Tight

The other potential problem is for your valves to close too slowly, which reduces the compression in the cylinder. Driving with the valves too tight causes more damage. In severe cases, your engine may overheat and burn out a valve, which is a much more costly repair. If you notice these warning signs and don't take care of them you will almost certainly regret it. Stick to your maintenance schedule and have your valves adjusted as needed.

The experts at Greg's Garage can help you with your car maintenance needs. They never overcharge and they never cut corners. They treat all their customers fairly. If you've been putting off this important piece of maintenance for a while now, contact us to ensure your car runs smoothly for many years to come.