How To Clean Valves Without Removing Head?

Don’t know how to clean the valves without removing the head?

Since the carbon deposits on the engine valves restrict airflow increasing the operating temperature. Thus, damaging the engine. Therefore, it becomes essential to clean valves for better functioning.

So, in this article I will share with you my experience how to clean valves without removing the head easily.

How to clean carbon build up on valves ?

Step 1: Preparation: glasses and gloves to protect yourself

It is necessary to ensure safety and, in the process, to clean the valve without removing the head. We use the valve cleaner on the running engine. So, it would be best if you protect yourself from burning. Moreover, the fluid may enter your eyes, making glasses necessary while cleaning the valve. Earlier, I used to get a lot of injuries and burns while cleaning without these safety gears. So, sharing my experience, I want to state that it’s essential to include safety gear while doing these things.

Step 2: Set your engine to operating temperature

If you want a clean valve without removing the head, you need to have your engine at the operating temperature. So, start the engine and on the dashboard, check the temperature from the temperature gauge. Moreover, if the temperature gauge shows temperature between cold and hot, consider your engine at operating temperature.

Step 3: Get the cover of the air filter out: 

It is mandatory to remove the plastic cover of an air filter to get access to the MAF sensor. The air filter cover is near the engine, and its duct travels from the front of the car into the engine. Moreover, to remove the air filter outside, loosen the hose clamps on both sides and remove the wing nuts. However, sometimes wing nuts may be absent. You may also clean or replace the air filters if needed. But, in my opinion, it would be best if you replace the air filter with a brand new one as they are not that expensive.

NOTE: Keep all the loose parts safely after opening as you will need to resemble an air filter cover afterward.

Step 4: MAF Sensor

In my opinion, it is essential to find out the exact position of the MAF sensor because when you will spray the valve intake cleaner past the MAF sensor. Moreover, you may find the MAF sensor between the airbox and the throttle body.

Step 5: Rev the engine to 2,000RPM

Whenever I clean my car’s valve, I prefer to revive the engine at approximately 2000 RPM. By doing so, your engine will speed up the combustion process once the engine starts running. However, in my opinion, it would be best if you have someone to assist you behind the steering wheels and rev the engine whenever required.

Step 6: Spray valve cleaner

It would help if you always be attentive while spraying the cleaner. It is the most crucial step as you need to spray cleaning products after the MAF sensor, not in front. However, if you spray the cleaner in front of the MAF sensor, you will see an engine light on the dashboard.

CRC GDI IVD Valve & Cleaner

This cheap product will do the job just fine.

Step 7: Spraying the intake cleaner

I have a Dodge Dakota and always clean the valves by myself. So, in my experience, when the engine is at rev 2,000 RPM, spray the intake cleaner in 30 seconds until the can is empty. Once cleaning, I felt my Dodge Dakota engine was beginning to stall, and then I got advice to press the gas pedal not exceeding the limit of 3500 RPM. Moreover, following that, I could see spray cleaner clean any carbon deposits on the intake valves. So, if you follow the same step, keep in mind that you are spraying the cleaner at the right place, avoiding the pooling of cleaner in one place. Otherwise, the cleaner could end up in valves triggering error codes on the dashboard with the engine light.

Step 8: Rev the engine up to 3500 RPM

Once you empty the cleaner, start and run the engine idle for one to two minutes without exceeding it to 3500 RPM and then turn the engine off.

Step 9: Reassemble

After cleaning, now quickly reassemble the air filter cover checking everything.

How to clean intake valves ?

Step 1: Start your motor and rev it to 2500 RPM

Step 2: Slowly pour water into the intake system

Step 3: The running engine will convert water into steam and clean the valves

You may also try a tiny vacuum and some oven cleaner. Spray the cleaner inside the valve and let it foam up. Further, vacuum it out before running the engine.

Moreover, you may also try Toluene or Xylene in your gas. It helps to burn the valves more and hence, destroy some of the carbon deposits. In addition, use 20% mixture for the tank.

Best way to clean valves

In my experience, using a bench grinder with a wire wheel is the best way to clean valves. This way is easy and no any damage happened. In case you have no grinder, it still works with a metal wire wheel. It may take longer but at least it can get your job done.

Important notes for driver

After knowing how to clean valves without removing the head, keep in mind a few things to avoid any problem.

  • While spraying cleaner: If you have to disconnect any fuel line, make sure to relieve all the residual fuel pressure inside before opening the lines.
  • Do not use a shop vacuum if any liquid is present in the valve.
  • Some liquids are highly flammable. They might explode by the spark of a vacuum.
  • Do not smoke while using flammable aerosol cleaners
  • Have proper ventilation to avoid toxic solvent fumes
  • If you are spraying blast media into the ports, close the valves.
  • Never use hard blast media as they might destroy the rings and cylinder of the valves.

Final words

Concluding, we have discussed how to clean valves without removing the head. This cleaning is an easy process that includes removing the filter cover and locating the MAF sensor. Following that, rev your engine at 2500 RPM and spray cleaner with caution. Moreover, after cleaning, run your engine idly without exceeding 3500 RPM and reassemble the parts. However, it is necessary to use a suitable substance during the cleaning process to avoid damage in the long run. 


There are some common questions related to how to clean valves without removing the head.

What causes valves to go bad?

In my opinion, the significant causes for valves to go bad are a distortion of valve seat, deposits on the valve, or burnt and erosion of the valves. For example, when my Dacota’s valve failed, the mechanic told me this might be due to heat fatigue, pitting, or breaks in the valve.

What are the symptoms of dirty valves?

When your car’s valves are dirty, you may notice:

  • More oil consumption.
  • Excessive smoke emission.
  • Low engine power.
  • Engine braking.
  • Cold engine.
  • Off-throttle braking.
  • Idling.
  • Increase carbon buildup in the engine due to problems in EGR.

What causes carbon buildup on the valve?

The carbon buildup on the valve is due to oil flow or leaks through valve seats, which layers turn into carbon accumulation. Moreover, carbon buildup is also possible from blow-by gases from the crankcase. In addition, using low-quality mixed fuel may also cause the proliferation of carbon. However, a tiny amount of oil is necessary for lubrication. But when this oil reaches the hot valve, it burns to form a heavy carbon deposit. In addition, with higher mileage, the wear of valve seals will be more. Thus, resulting in depositing black carbon on the inlets of the valve.

My advice to avoid these carbon deposits is to change your oil every 3000 miles if you are a short-distance driver. And, on every 5000 miles if you are a highway driver. Moreover, it would be best to clean the valves using a suitable cleaner, taking necessary precautions.

What does a bad valve sound like?

If you have a damaged or broken valve, you will hear some noise from your car. So, with a broken valve spring and worn camshaft lobe, your engine will create a tapping or clicking sound. Moreover, you will hear valve train noise the same as the sewing machine’s clicking sound.

What is the best valve cleaner?

There are many engine valve cleaners popular in the market. But, I would recommend you use products such as CRC GDI intake valve cleaner or BG Gasoline Direct injection cleaner. Moreover, you will find a variety of engine valve cleaners such as:

  • CRC 05103 QD.
  • WD-40 throttle cleaner.
  • Berryman intake valve cleaner.
  • ATP AT-100 intake cleaner.

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