The national cost for a variable valve timing actuator replacment in 2023 is between $110 and $256 with an average of $170​

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National average cost of a a Variable Valve Timing Actuator Replacment
for popular vehicles:

Car Model

Avg. cost


What is a variable valve timing actuator and how does it work?

The variable valve timing (VVT) actuator allows the timing of the camshaft(s) in your engine to be changed while the engine is running. Engine function requires that a small army of moving parts - from four to eight pistons, a crankshaft, camshafts, and as many as thirty two valves, along with dozens of other components - all march together at the same time. Like instruments in an orchestra, all of these components must be synchronized.

In an engine with traditional fixed timing, the relationship between moving pieces remains the same no matter what performance is called for. With variable valve timing, the engine timing can be adjusted on the fly to accommodate low, mid, and upper-range performance. In the process, it helps to improve efficiency, horsepower, and emissions. The VVT actuator allows the timing of the camshaft(s) to be advanced or retarded with changes in oil pressure to the actuator by way of the VVT solenoid.


How do I know if a variable valve timing actuator needs to be replaced?

A failing variable valve timing actuator will show one or more of the following signs of failure:

A knocking or clattering noise when you start your engine or while it is running

Your engine is hard to start when cold

Loss of power at high speeds

A drop in fuel efficiency

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How is a a Variable Valve Timing Actuator Replacment done?

Variable valve timing actuator replacement is a complex job since significant parts of the engine must be disassembled for access. In some cases, the timing chain and tensioners inside the front of the engine must be removed. Depending on the vehicle make and model, removal of the camshaft(s) might also be necessary, along with other valvetrain components.

Upon reassembly, care must be taken by the mechanic to ensure that all of the timing components are in proper alignment so that the engine will function as it should and to avoid any of the moving parts from coming into violent contact with one another upon startup. For this reason, the job is typically completed by an advanced level technician.

    Other questions customers ask

    How do you test a VVT actuator?
    There are several tests that can be done to check a VVT actuator, depending on your vehicle make and model. One of the more common methods involves connecting a diagnostic scan tool to your vehicle and commanding the VVT actuator to different positions while observing other data values coming from the engine. A technician can monitor the data and determine if the VVT actuator is working properly.
    What is a VVT actuator problem?
    A common problem with VVT actuators is that, with excessive internal wear, they no longer hold oil pressure as they should and therefore do not control the timing as commanded by the ECU (Engine Control Unit). This can lead to increased fuel consumption, decreased engine power, and failure of an emissions test.
    What causes a VVT actuator to fail?
    The most likely culprits that lead to a failed VVT actuator include dirty engine oil, using oil with the wrong viscosity or rating, or lack of oil pressure the the actuator, potentially due to a failed VVT solenoid.

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