In order to do their part to help reduce emissions from escaping into the atmosphere, car manufacturers developed the evaporative emission control system, also known as the EVAP system. In simple terms this system makes sure that the harmful vapors from your fuel tank don't get released into the air. These vapors are instead burned in the engine so there is nothing left to release into the air. Part of this EVAP system is the evaporation vent solenoid. What this vent does is makes sure that clean air enters into the evaporative emissions system, which is then used to transport the fuel vapor straight to the engine.
The vent is controlled by the engine control module, which can force it to close. Over time this vent solenoid can start to fail by either sticking closed or open. This causes problems as it won't be able to operate properly and the pressure in the fuel tank won't be vented. Some of the reasons this solenoid can fail are debris, dust, and dirt that gets in it. There is no set lifespan for this part, but if you drive on mainly gravel roads, you can bet it will wear out much faster. The good news is that it is generally quite affordable to replace.
Here is a list of symptoms that can start to happen that may signal that your evaporation vent solenoid has reached the end of its lifespan. When it does die, you’ll need to replace it as quickly as possible.
Your Check Engine Light will most likely come on once this vent solenoid stops working. Obviously there are all kinds of reasons this light can come on, so it's wise to have the computer codes read by an expert mechanic.
Here's where things can get frustrating. If the vent solenoid is no longer working, it can actually make your fuel cap loose and impossible to tighten. This makes getting fuel bothersome.
Keep in mind there is no rush to replace the part from a safety stand-point, it will cause inconvenience and frustration rather than a safety issue.
While there is no set lifespan for your evaporation vent solenoid, once it fails it will begin to present quite a nuisance. If you’re experiencing any of the above mentioned symptoms and suspect your evaporation vent solenoid is in need of replacement, get a diagnostic or book an evaporation vent solenoid replacement service with a professional mechanic.
This article originally appeared on YourMechanic.com as How Long Does an Evaporation Vent Solenoid Last? and was authored by Valerie Johnston.