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All About Driving with VCT Solenoid Unplugged

Checking and determining the pressure of oil is a huge job. And the role that plays most crucially for this purpose is called variable camshaft timing.

In short, known as VCT. Apparently, the biggest producer of VCT solenoid is none other than FORD. The use of the technology basically makes the whole engine performance boost up greatly. And you’ll see a lot of engine efficiency benefits as well.

The variable camshaft timing will be able to:

  • Do excellent improvement to the overall fuel economy.
  • Reduce the emissions to a great extent.
  • Increase the mpg ratio in comparison to the vehicles that use camshafts of fixed or stationary type.

But what happens if you need driving with vct solenoid unplugged? Let’s find out the whole thing today!

Is it Okay Driving with VCT Solenoid Unplugged?

Now those who need driving with VCT solenoid unplugged, you have to understand what’s the first things that happen once the solenoid is out of VCT. The truck will not be able to retard nor retard the timing anymore once you get the solenoid unplugged.

Now you can apparently run for a certain period of time having them unplugged. And no issues shall appear at idle. However, you should definitely check with your dealer first about keeping the solenoids unplugged before you go for a drive or rev the engine.

Basics Of VCT AKA Variable Camshaft Timing

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So, what does VCT solenoid stand for? Variable camshaft timing! And the VCT solenoid is the part that lets oil pressure get inside the camshaft phaser. And so, it can control the camshaft’s timing by PCM.

What about the VCT solenoid location? you’ll need it at the cylinder head that stays right in the front gear’s center area.

Another question that can come to your mind is, exactly what does the VCT solenoid do to make the oil pressure enter the camshaft phaser?

Well, that’s not a one-line answer type of question.

Before the working process starts, a few conditions need to be met for it to get enabled, and these are:

  • The oil temperature of the engine should be normal.
  • The speed of the engine needs to be appropriate for the system to work actively.

Now moving to the mechanism

First of all, there are some magnetic cam position sensors available in front of the phaser. Here you should find a return spring. And it makes rotation directly with camshaft.

This allows the engine to know about the VCT effect on the timing. In case of disassembling, the return spring will help the phaser to get back to the default dull advanced position.

Depending on the vehicle manufacturer, the variable valves system can be different here and there. However, it will depend on the solenoid greatly. And that’s when it’s engaged for the oil flow control.

As soon as the engine goes through severe pressure, the system activates on its own. For example, in circumstances where there’s a large load.

During moving thigh hill, acceleration will be quicker than normal. This also happens whenever there’s extra weight. Again, for situations of throttling during acceleration.

That’s when the variable valve timing oil travels toward the chain and gear assembly. And during this, the VCT solenoid stays activated.

Should Anyone Consider Driving with Bad VCT Solenoid?

Now, this is a slight difference scenario. The VCT solenoid is not unplugged but has gone bad. Should one consider driving even though the part has been facing damages and probably isn’t working at all? That’s the question.

Technically, you should be able to keep driving with the bad solenoid. But you should not choose to do so.

Because one, this will cause serious damages to the additional parts inside your vehicle. For example, the VVT actuator. Two, you might not be able to drive well after a certain period of time and it’ll become very dangerous on road.

And this means, your first priority should be addressing the issue as soon as possible.

Also, one of the very common ford 5.4 variable cam timing problems is the dreaded ‘phaser rattle’. Something that happens when the ECU is unable to control the VCT phasers.

And this can take place because of wear in a phaser or simply due to insufficient oil pressure or volume being delivered. Don’t confuse a bad solenoid with a worn-out phaser in such a case. You can visit an expert if things seem to indicate both of these. And find out exactly what is wrong.

Now There Are Some Signs of a Bad Solenoid

Some might be curious on how to check vct solenoid is bad through some signs if there’s any. And actually, there are a few things you can check to be sure that the solenoid is most likely the culprit. These are:

  1. The engine will have awful noises. And this could be the VCT solenoid noise signaling an issue.
  2. Whenever you accelerate the RPM will seem a lot inconsistent, especially during rough engine idle.
  3. During driving uphill, the VCT system tuns on, and the same happens during higher RPMs. This can be due to a lack of engine oil for the VCT gears due to a bad solenoid.

One of the major problems that the VCT solenoid could be facing is oil contamination. This basically means the oil pump has caught leaks on the center.

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And that will make the whole pressure of the system drop. It can cause the VCT system to fail. A similar issue takes place when there’s a clog in the oil pump’s sump screen.

And that we’re a few tips on how to check a vct solenoid, give those a try.

Need For Driving With VCT Solenoid Unplugged – Because The Oil Pressure Or Routing Unable To Reach Base Position

This could be a possible scene for someone considering driving with VCT solenoid not plugged. And it’s when the oil pressure or routing is disabled.

And so, it is not making the advanced phasers go to the base position. It could also be that the spring-loaded locking pin is not working right and capturing more holding the proper way.

However, unplugging VCT solenoids here will do nothing. And no, it won’t have any effect at all on the failure you are facing.

This is again rooting to the difference of issues with solenoid and phasers. If you can hear some rattling, then the chances of the problem relevant to phasers are high. And solenoid merely regulates the flow to cam phasers. But the issue is only relevant to phasers.

Let’s go through the reasons why you should not try anything with the solenoid in a bit of depth below.

The pan tube basically picks up the oil and then it goes through the head as well as the engine. So that the substance can funnel into VCT solenoids.

The ECU sends a request which triggers the engine to reach the right operating temperature and eventually lets the VCT solenoids actuate. So that oil flow towards the cam phaser can take place.

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Here the role of the phaser is to make sure fuel efficiency is right. And also, it advances the timing to torque when the loads and RPMs are certain amounts.

This means if the VCT system is not getting that optimal oil flow, the engine will simply shut down or result in installation.

Now here’s where the confusion gets created, after unplugging the VCT solenoids, the sound foes off. And so, people think this just solves the issue. But actually, what is happening is due to unplugging the entire VCT system is disabled completely.

That basically stops the cam phasers to be actuated beyond the base timing. As a result, the engine just behaves like it used to do when there was no cam phasing used in vehicles.

Technically, the whole thing is not causing any hard-to-engine. But you will experience a massive reduction in fuel economy.

Not to mention the power loss you’ll feel as you drive without plugged VCT solenoid. Unless you are out of money to spend on a replacement of phasers, don’t keep the solenoid unplugged.

It Could Also Be Due TO Chain Tensioners

Some engines come with rubber seals that are not really great quality. So eventually, oil front leaking takes place. With passing time, the seals can deteriorate. And then blowing out as well as letting the oil drain from tensioners are what tends to happen.

Of course, the whole thing will lead to chain tension loss. And eventually, there’s a plastic rattle sound whenever you start the engine, due to this issue.

Basically, what is happening is that the chain keeps hitting guides. And it takes place on starting crank and fire. Once there’s oil pressure built up the chain slack gets tight inside the chain tensioners.

Again, when the engine is turned off, chain rattling can take place due to oil pressure bleeding off. The plastic chain guides can smash if things continue like this.

And then it’ll end up inside the oil pan. The tube picking it up will make things worse by dropping the oil pressure even lower.

Now pressure lowering is not good for the engine. But it can be the worst thing for the phasers. It just makes them prone to wearing out during the operation. Because of the lack of oil pressure, at low RPMs, the phaser might fail to unlock and show erratic behaviors.

Until then there’s enough oil pressure you might keep hearing a clicking sound back and forth. In such a case the best solution is getting new OEM phasers, guides as well as a strong oil pump.

You will also need new tensioners. Temporality keeping the VCT solenoid unplugged might be fine. But just expect a loss in performance until you take the actual steps in fixing the issues.

Installing Lockout Kit – Reasonable or Not?

A few may consider unplugging the VCT solenoids instead of simply going with the installation of a lockout kit. And actually, both are not necessary.

Clearly, someone who has not yet taken into consideration the several important points regarding the variable valve timing will have this confusion.

Instead of telling you the danger of VCT solenoid unplugged, let’s remind the need for proper oil routing as well as oil pressure for the phase advance chambers.

These two are the key to letting phasers move to the base. Once the phaser is at the base position and spring-loaded locking up captures those, it stays like so until there is a retard call by the PCM. And that happens from the activation of the VCT solenoid by the way.

Now in this scene, if you decide to unplug, the oil pressure might still be able to move phasers to base and locking pin having no issue with capturing.

However, PCM will defeat activation of variable valve timing due to noticing the VCT solenoid’s open circuit. As a result, there will be lots of operations halted by PCM for compensating for the situation. And to get rid of this effect lockouts have a “tune” effect.

However, in the case we just talked about, the installation of lockouts is not necessary. It simply will disable a proper working variable valve system’s operation for no good reason. And this means, there’s no such need for one to unplug the VCT solenoids.

Also, apart from the VCT solenoid unplugged issue, lockouts are not a great thing despite popular usage. To fix any phaser issue, it’s best to find the cause and work on repairing it instead of getting the lockout solution.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Why is the vct solenoid stuck open?

There can be many reasons causing it. However, most of the time, this happens due to debris and in the worst scenario, the solenoid can break as well.

Why VCT solenoids should be replaced?

if the solenoid proves to go bad then trying to repair it might help in bettering the driving experience. Especially when you notice there are vibration problems and misfiring engine issues taking over.
Also, a noticeable change in power when you are drying is a big sign the solenoid could be in trouble. However sometimes the problems are simply not repairable and then going for a replacement sounds less time-consuming, less complicated, and of course more result appropriate.

Does a faulty vct solenoid cause misfire?

Yes, it can trigger a misfire in the engine. Especially if the vehicle goes through the frequent burden of additional weight, needs to climb hills, and also faces quick throttle pressure during acceleration. Misfires due to electrical malfunctions with switches are common in such scenes.

How much does it cost to replace a VCT solenoid?

It depends on a number of factors. But for most cases, you should expect a spend between 100 to 420 dollars. Labor cost here ranges from 50 to 160 dollars. While for the parts purchase you have to spend somewhere between 50 to 260 dollars.

What causes a VCT solenoid to go bad?

Often being neglectful with basic maintenance causes failure with the VCT solenoid. Using dirty oil for a long time or having clog due to the study oil on the solenoid can make it prone to sudden failure.
The same goes for the frequency of low oil levels in the engine situations, the more it is the higher chances of the part going bad.

Is VVT and VCT the same?

Variable valve timing or in short VVT refers to the system that is in charge of keeping valves’ timing and it functions with camshaft.
While on the other hand, variable cam timing, in short VCT basically is a form of a VVT system. Usually, many makers will change the terms so that it sounds like a manufacturer-specific design element for better advertising.

Wrap Up

And just like that, we went through a bunch of matters including whether or not you should think about driving with VCT solenoid unplugged. Hopefully, now you have a broad insight on the whole thing.

The VCT solenoid is definitely an integral part of the automobile system that simply allows smooth performance. So having trouble with it means you need to take things seriously and address the issue as soon as possible.

If it’s necessary to talk about it with an expert for repair or replacement needs, you should not keep things waiting and go for it.

On that note, we’ll be leaving for today but see you in our next piece soon!

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James Noah

Ah! Driving your King has no twist when you have zero knowledge! Yes, Noah is here with his core experiences about trucks, cars, suvs and atvs. Working as a cheif editor for Automasterx to make you satisfied with solid data driven post.

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