Positive Crankcase Ventilation is a system that was developed to remove harmful vapors from the engine and to prevent those vapors from being expelled into the atmosphere. The PCV system does this by using manifold vacuum to draw vapors from the crankcase into the intake manifold. Vapor is then carried with the fuel/air mixture into the combustion chambers where it is burned. The flow or circulation within the system is controlled by the PCV Valve. The PCV Valve is effective as both a crankcase ventilation system and as a pollution control device
positive crankcase ventilation systems have been standard equipment on all new cars since the early sixties. Prior to 1963 PCV was only used in California. There are a variety of PCV systems used on various makes and models of cars produced since 1963, but all function essentially the same.
PCV systems can be described as either open or closed. The two systems are quite similar. However, the closed system in use since 1968 is more effective at air pollution control. The systems differ in the manner in which fresh air enters the crankcase and excessive vapor is expelled.
Open PCV Systems
The open system draws fresh air though a vented oil filler cap. This presents no problem as long as the vapor volume is minimal. However, when the crankcase vapor becomes excessive it is forced back through the vented oil filler cap and into the open atmosphere. The open PCV system, though successful at removing contaminated vapors from the crankcase, is not completely effective as a pollution control device.
Closed PCV Systems
The closed PCV system draws fresh air from the air filter housing. The oil filler cap in this system is NOT vented. Consequently, excess vapor will be carried back to the air filter housing and from there into the intake manifold. The closed system prevents vapor, whether normal or excessive, from reaching the open atmosphere. The closed system is very effective as an air pollution control device.
The PCV Valve
The most critical part in the PCV system is the flow control valve, commonly referred to as the PCV valve. The purpose of the PCV valve is to meter the flow of the vapor from the crankcase to the intake manifold. This is necessary in order to provide proper ventilation for the crankcase, while not upsetting the fuel/air mixture for combustion.