Variable valve timing, or VVT, was one of the first big breakthroughs in automobile technology which utilized an advanced electronic system. The system works by applying variable electronic signals from the ignition system in order to alter the valve lift event. This technology was pioneered by Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors which happens to be three of the biggest automobile manufacturers in the United States during the 1960s.
Simply put, a VVT system provides smoother idling, better emissions control, and improved fuel economy in an automobile. The variable valve timing solenoid is the part that makes the entire system work and if it experiences any issues, problems will occur with the timing chain and gear. A bad or worn-out VVT solenoid may need to be replaced in order for the system to resume normal operations.
What’s the Price of A VVT Solenoid?
The estimated VVT solenoid replacement cost ranges between $9.90 and 1,380.42. It’s a small part that is about the same size as most car sensors. The variable valve timing repair cost variance will depend on a few different factors.
Firstly, the brand of the part will affect the cost. Well-known brands such as Aceon, Cardone, Delphi, Spectra Premium, and Standard all price their aftermarket parts differently. The location of the retail outlet also makes a difference. You can usually get good aftermarket parts at local retail shops, online, or even at an auto repair shop itself.
Additionally, the year, make, and model of your car plays a part in determining the cost of the replacement part. For example, a Dorman variable valve timing solenoid for a 2015 Ford Edge 2.0L will cost $12.62, but a Genuine variable valve timing solenoid for a Porsche Cayenne 4.5L will cost $283.03.
Besides that, if you’re planning on bringing the vehicle to an auto shop, you need to factor the labor fee into the equation. Based on price estimates gathered from several different retailers, we’ve calculated the total cost to replace a variable valve timing solenoid including the labor fee:
|2012 Scion xB||$191|
|2005 Chevrolet Express 2500||$156|
|2013 Fiat 500||$356|
|2008 Mercedes-Benz E350||$356|
|2009 Lexus GX470||$247|
|2010 Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG||$191|
Where to Have A VVT Solenoid Replaced?
Automobile repair is a business that dates all the way back to the days when cars had just been invented. Today, there are auto centers in most cities in the United States and it’s really not that hard to find somewhere to get your vehicle repaired. Several of the most well-known and trusted repair shops include AutoZone, O’Reilly Automotive, Genuine Parts Company, Fisher Auto Parts, and Automotive Parts Headquarters.
To find a good auto center that’s near to your location, it’s recommended to check your phone book or local directories. Social media sites and online search engines can also provide an easy way to search for a shop and many offer free price estimates so you’ll know the cost in advance. Based on pricing gathered from various retailers, the labor cost to do a replacement job is about $314 – $411.
If you’d like to replace the part yourself without visiting a mechanic, you can save a couple of hundred dollars by doing a home repair. We’ve created a step-by-step guide at the last section if you’d like to try some DIY.
What Does A VVT Solenoid Do?
Before you get around to learning the specific function of the VVT solenoid, let’s first do an overview of the VVT system itself so that it will all make a better sense. Within an internal combustion engine, intake and exhaust valves are used to allow gases to flow in and out of the combustion chamber.
Originally in older four-stroke-cycle engines, the valves opened at a specific point in the cycle at a specific time and allowed a specific amount of gas in and out. It was as simple as that.
The VVT system changed the way that the valves worked in dramatic fashion. Instead of the valves just opening and closing according to the preset cycle of the engine stroke, various aspects of the valves could be controlled such as valve timing, valve lift, and valve duration.
A VVT system uses many different parts which work together and one of these components is the VVT solenoid. An engine which utilizes variable valve timing is able to increase performance, decrease negative emissions, and improve its operating range.
A solenoid is a coil of wire that acts as a magnet when carrying electric current. It is what enables the car’s computer, also known as the ECU, to change the position of the camshafts in the engine via electrical signals.
Each camshaft has one solenoid connected to it. Once the ECU gives a command to open or close a valve at a certain speed or intensity, the solenoid allows oil pressure to advance or retard the camshaft in order to increase engine performance.
Variable valve timing systems are present in almost every type of modern automobile made today. However, VVT systems are named differently depending on the manufacturer. In fact, the term “variable valve timing” itself is only used by Chrysler, General Motors, Proton, Suzuki, Isuzu, Volkswagen, and Toyota.
For example, Ford uses a similar VVT system but they call it “Ti-VCT”. Nissan uses an “N-VCT”. Subaru’s system is called the “AVCS” or “active valve control system”. Although they use different nomenclatures, these systems are all similar in concept.
In cases when the VVT solenoid experiences a problem, the “Check Engine” light on the vehicle’s dashboard will illuminate to provide a warning to the driver. Besides that, there are various other ways to tell if the solenoid is malfunctioning – keep reading to find out what some of these are!
Symptoms of a Malfunctioning VVT Solenoid
The purpose of the solenoid is basically just to act as a relay for the electronic signals sent from the ECU. As the part is electrical in nature, there are plenty of ways that the solenoid can become damaged and subsequently cause disruption to the timing gear and chain. The best defense against these scenarios is to simply be aware of them and learn how to identify the symptoms.
Shown below are some of the most obvious signs indicating a malfunctioning variable valve timing solenoid. If you experience one or more of these, it’s recommended that you bring your vehicle for inspection by a certified ASE mechanic.
- The Check Engine Light Is Turned On
The check engine light on the dashboard is a useful part that can indicate any sort of issue with the engine. Once the car’s computer determines that there’s a problem with the engine, this light will switch on. In the event of a VVT solenoid failure or even prior to failure, this light will illuminate.
However, it’s worth noting that there are plenty of other engine issues that could be triggering this symptom, so it’s advised to have your car checked out to determine the root cause.
- Your Engine Oil is Dirty
The VVT system on an automobile operates using hydraulic oil pressure. The engine oil needs to be kept clean and free of impurities or else the system will have a hard time with opening and closing the valves.
When oil becomes dirty, it loses viscosity and thus, the force and pressure of the hydraulic system is greatly minimized. If the engine oil becomes contaminated, the enter VVT system itself may become clogged up.
As such, this symptom can be both a cause and effect. Keep an eye out for dirty engine oil so you can fix the problem before it gets worse.
- The Engine Idles Roughly
If the VVT solenoid stops working while the car is running, more oil than is needed might be utilized in the VVT gears. This will result in very rough engine performance while on idle. You should be able to notice this symptom immediately after turning on the engine because it will begin to fluctuate as the VVT starts working.
- Fuel Efficiency Begins to Decline
As the function of the VVT system is to maximize fuel economy by opening and closing the valves with perfect timing, a malfunctioning solenoid might be responsible if you notice a loss in performance. The last symptom on our list is markedly a rapid decrease in fuel levels as the engine begins to consume more and more every time you run the car.
If these warnings signs are ignored, the consequences can be disastrous for the engine. You may never be able to use the car again so have the VVT solenoid inspected and replaced if necessary as soon as you begin noticing these symptoms.