Car Question-Idle Air Control Valve

My car has begun to idle very high–often over 2000rpm while stopped. I would very much like for this not to happen any more. In the interest of avoiding larger-than-necessary mechanic bills, I would like to fix this myself. I understand the likely culprit is a clogged or malfunctioning idle air control valve. It is an inexpensive part to replace, and I would like to do that, if I could just figure out where it is!

I have a 2002 Saturn S series 4 cylinder manual transmission vehicle. I am reasonably confident that if I could locate the part in question, I could remove and replace it. I think I know where it is, all the way at the back of the engine near the passenger compartment, near where the air intake joins the engine. There are two similar looking objects there, both hard to get to. I would like to avoid just taking random parts off the engine trying to find the part in question.

My specific questions:

  1. Where is the idle air control valve located on my vehicle?

  2. Is this part likely to blame for my engine idling very high?

  3. If, in fact the answer to number three is yes, is this a reasonable repair for me to attempt, or should I leave this to the pros?

Thank you for your help.


1.) It’s in the area you’ve described, attached somewhere on the throttle body. I might be able to get more precise with more info on the car. Exactly what model is it (e.g. SC1, SL2)? Is it the single cam or dual cam engine? (I can get the answers from the VIN.) Probably the clearest way to identify it is to look at a new one so you can recognize it on your car.

2.) Not according to my info. I’m curious how you came to understand it’s a likely culprit. The common problems on these vehicles that cause high idle are intake manifold gasket leaks and faulty throttle position sensors. Other possibilities include PCV system faults, stuck EGR valves, faulty coolant temperature sensors, and miscellaneous vacuum leaks. IAC valve failures, while possible, are low on the suspect list.

3.) It’s not a huge job, but could be tricky and might need uncommon tools.

Thank you, Gary T. For what it’s worth, I have the single cam engine, I forgot to post that originally. From what you wrote, I think it’s best to take the car to a real mechanic, rather than trying to fix something that I don’t know is broken. I found the info about the IAC valve by poking around online.

But now I can go talk to the mechanic knowing more than I did originally, and be less likely to pay for unnecessary repairs.

Thanks again.