How Do I Reset My Idle Air Control Valve

The idle air control (IAC) valve is crucial in managing your engine’s idle speed. This valve controls the amount of air that bypasses the throttle plate to keep your car’s idle smooth. A problem with the idle air control valve can lead to rough idle, stalling, high idling, poor acceleration, decreased fuel economy, and illumination of the check engine light.

However, if you notice symptoms of bad IAC, like a rough or high idle, stalling, and poor throttle response, your IAC valve may malfunction. You can try resetting the valve, which will resolve minor issues if the valve is sticking or stuck open. The reset procedure allows the engine control module to recalibrate the idle control system. But if you try to reset the IAC valve and it doesn’t fix your symptoms, it likely indicates a problem with the valve needing repair or replacement.

Before replacing the IAC valve, try to clean the IAC valve in place or locate the idle air control valve and check for vacuum leaks, noises, or shaft binding.  While you can temporarily drive with a bad idle air control valve, it’s advisable to have it repaired soon to prevent potentially stalling in traffic. With a properly functioning IAC valve, your car’s idle speed will stay smooth and consistent.

idle air control valve

In our guide, you can learn more about having an issue with the IAC valve and what it means for the functioning of your car. By the end, you’ll better understand the symptoms of a bad IAC valve, how to fix the problem with the IAC valve, or if you need it replaced. (Read Can You Mix Windshield Washer Fluid)

What Does The Idle Air Control Valve Do?

The Idle Air Control (IAC) valve regulates how much air enters the engine at idle. The control unit controls the amount of air that flows past the closed throttle plate to maintain smooth engine idle speed. The idle air control valve regulates the amount of airflow to keep the engine idling properly.

What Does Resetting the Idle Air Control Do?

Resetting a malfunctioning IAC valve allows it to relearn its position. The IAC is controlled by the engine control module (ECM). So, you need to reset the idle air control to allow the valve to recalibrate and speak to the engine control unit.

If you suspect that your IAC valve isn’t working, you may need to reset where resetting can resolve issues with an idle air control valve without removing the device. However, if resetting the idle air control will not let the car idle at a higher rate when you turn on the air conditioner. It shows the IAC valve is not working. However, when the valve is functioning, you can reset or clean an idle air control valve before fitting a new IAC valve.

How To Know If My Idle Air Control Valve Needs Resetting?

Here are some of the most common signs of idle air control valve issues that may require a reset to ensure the IAC valve is properly working:

  • Rough idle: The engine RPMs surge up and down at idle.
  • High idle: The idle stays around 1500 RPMs or higher when warmed up.
  • Stalling: The engine stalls out at idle and won’t stay running.
  • Poor fuel economy: MPGs are noticeably lower than usual.

If you experience these symptoms, try resetting the idle air control valve first. Test if the IAC works, and you’re ready. The idle air control valve needs cleaning or replacing if the issue persists. (Read Can A Bad Belt Tensioner Cause Rough Idle)

how to

How to Reset My Idle Air Control Valve

The procedure for resetting an idle air control valve can vary slightly by vehicle make and model. However, the general process is straightforward:

  1. Turn the ignition on, but do not start the engine.
  2. Disconnect the negative battery cable and wait 15 minutes. This allows the computer’s memory to clear.
  3. Reconnect the negative battery cable and tighten it securely.
  4. Start the engine and let it idle for several minutes. This allows the ECM to recalibrate the idle control.

What Happens if Resetting the IAC Doesn’t Work?

If resetting your idle air control valve does not fix the symptoms, it likely needs to be cleaned or replaced. A stuck open or closed valve will not regain proper function through resets alone.

Here are some signs your IAC valve is faulty and needs servicing:

The Check Engine Light is On

An illuminated check engine light accompanied by idle symptoms points to an IAC valve problem. Have the codes scanned to confirm. Common codes include P0505, P1508, P050A, or P0506 when you check your idle air control valve.

Your Car Won’t Idle or Idles High

A car that stalls at stops or idles around 2000 RPM likely has an idle air control valve issue. This occurs when the valve fails to regulate idle air properly.

Poor Throttle Response

As you accelerate from a stop, a sluggish throttle response may also indicate a bad IAC valve. If the valve cannot control idle air correctly, it affects overall drivability.

Rough Idle That Persists After Resets

If you’ve reset the idle air control valve and the engine still idles rough or erratic, it’s a sign the valve needs to be replaced.

Signs Your IAC Valve Is Stuck Open

A stuck open IAC valve is one of the more common failure modes. Here are some symptoms your valve may be stuck open:

  • The idle speed is too high
  • Dimming headlights at idle
  • Poor fuel economy and possible check engine light
  • Clean valve that does not seem obstructed

A valve stuck open allows too much air to bypass into the intake, raising the engine idle speed. Have the valve tested to confirm before replacing it. (Read Tbi Idle Surge And Stumble Update Solved)

How to Clean Faulty Idle Air Control Valve

A dirty IAC valve can sometimes cause idle issues. Before replacing it, try cleaning the valve to see if performance improves:

  1. Remove the valve from the vehicle by disconnecting the electrical connector and any mounting bolts.
  2. Use throttle body cleaner and a small brush to remove carbon deposits from the valve pintle and inside the housing.
  3. Avoid using any abrasives or scouring pads during cleaning.
  4. Allow the valve to dry completely before reinstalling it.
  5. Test the idle after cleaning. If symptoms continue, install a new valve. Running too long with a dirty IAC risks damaging it.

How to Check if Your IAC Valve is Bad

There are a few checks you can perform to confirm if the faulty idle operation is due to a bad valve:

  • Listen for clicking or tapping sounds from the valve at idle. Noise indicates a damaged solenoid.
  • Check for vacuum leaks around the gasket. This can introduce unmetered air.
  • Use an LED illuminated inspection mirror while idling to look for movement of the pintle shaft. No movement means a bad solenoid.
  • Test valve coil resistance with a multimeter. Refer to specs, but readings outside the range indicate a bad solenoid.

If any of these checks reveal IAC valve issues, replacement is required.

Cost to Replace an Idle Air Control Valve

Idle air control valves cost between $ 100 and $350 for the part, depending on the vehicle. Labor costs to replace the idle control valve are around $150-200 at a shop. DIY replacement is possible on many cars and can save on labor. Make sure to buy an OEM or quality aftermarket valve.

can you drive

Can I Drive With a Bad Idle Air Control Valve?

You can temporarily drive with a faulty IAC valve, especially if symptoms mainly occur at idle. However, you may experience occasional stalling, poor throttle response, and acceleration.

Prolonged driving with a faulty valve can eventually lead to stalling even while driving. Schedule a replacement as soon as possible to avoid being stranded. (Read Can A Loose Gas Cap Cause Rough Idle)


Resetting the idle control valve in your car is a fast and straightforward way to recalibrate the valve and potentially fix minor issues without replacement. First, check that the control valve is working properly after cleaning, or if the symptoms persist, it shows the IAC is failing and needs replacement.

Look for a stuck open valve, binding shaft, or bad solenoid. While a faulty valve can usually be temporarily driven, repair it soon to prevent potential stalling. Your engine can maintain smooth idle operation with a properly functioning idle air control valve.


Here are answers to common questions about resetting and replacing faulty idle air control valves:

How do I know if my idle air control valve is bad?

Symptoms include rough idle, stalling, high idle over 1500 RPM, poor throttle response, diminished MPG, and possibly an illuminated check engine light.

Where is the idle air control valve located?

To locate the IAC valve, check near the throttle body where the air control valve is located near the air intake with a hose or duct.

Can a bad idle control valve cause no start?

The control valve is an engine component, and check whether the valve is not working properly. If the valve is malfunctioning, it may prevent the engine from starting or cause it to stall immediately.

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