Blow Off Valve FAQ

Term usage: “Blow off valves” go by several names, among them are compressor bypass valve (CBV), air by-pass valve, bypass valve (BPV), blow off valve (BOV), Diverter valve, and possibly a few others. BOV is the common and incorrect term that lumps true blow off valves and bypass valves under the same term. For the sake of correctness, this post will refer to either aftermarket BOV, aftermarket BPV or OEM BPV as these are the most correct terms.

image credit:

What is the function of a blow off valve (BOV)? To release pressure from the intake tract of a turbo car when the throttle closes. It is a vacuum-actuated valve designed to releases the air to the atmosphere.

What is the function of a bypass valve (BPV)? To release pressure from the intake tract of a turbo car when the throttle closes. It is a vacuum-actuated valve designed to recirculate the air back into the intake before the turbo inlet, but after the airflow sensor.

What is the purpose of a BOV/BPV? When the throttle closes and the intake system is under pressure, the high-pressure air entering the motor will bump into the closed throttle plate, and in the absence of a BOV/BPV, a pressure wave will travel back to the turbocharger. The result is that the compressor wheel will stall (a phenomenon known as “compressor surge”) and slow down very quickly. This is hard on the bearings and decreases the turbo’s lifespan, but it also means the turbo will take longer to spin up the next time the throttle is opened.

Are aftermarket BOVs necessary with Subaru turbos? No. The OEM BPV is perfectly fine up to 20psi of boost. For applications using higher boost levels, an aftermarket BOV/BPV should be considered.

Can I mod my stock BPV to hold higher boost? Yes. This link gives detailed instructions on how to do so.

Is the STi BPV better than the WRX BPV? No. They are the same. However, the JDM STi BPV will hold more boost as it is physically different than both the USDM STi BPV and the WRX BPV. The specific PSI rating of the JDM STi BPV is unknown, but users have reported it is good up to 25 PSI.

Is an aftermarket BPV better than the stock BPV? No. Unless you are considering an aftermarket BPV solely for the purposes of holding higher boost levels. An aftermarket unit should sound just like the OEM unit.

Which manufacturer is best? This topic is highly debated. There have been no reported consistent “bad” aftermarket BOVs. Obviously, there may have been bad ones sold, but not enough to report as “bad” overall.

What are the different types of aftermarket BOVs/BPVs? Different manufacturers use different methods. There are three basic types:
1. Aftermarket BPV: Similar in function to the OEM BPV where 100% of the air is recirculated.
2. Atmospheric BOV: 100% of the air is vented to the atmosphere.
3. Hybrid BOV: These depend on the manufacturer and end user settings. These can either be adjustable or manufacturer set for different percentages of atmospheric/recirculation dumping. They can also be set to work as recirculation during lower boost conditions and 100% atmospheric during higher boost conditions.

Are there any downsides to aftermarket BOVs? There have not been significant amounts of problems with BOVs. Aftermarket BOVs can and do require some light end user maintenance to keep them performing perfectly. For aftermarket hybrid BOVs that have end user defined settings, there will be an initial period of adjustment to obtain the desired recirculation/atmospheric ratio. As well, most aftermarket BOVs will require “tuning” (usually via supplied washers, a screw, or other mechanism on the BOV itself) to allow them to idle correctly and blow off at the right time.

Are there any negative effects with aftermarket BOVs? Yes. The downside of releasing the air to atmosphere is that it has already been metered by the mass air sensor, and when it blows off, the ECU will be injecting the wrong amount of fuel into the cylinders. The engine temporarily runs extremely rich, meaning too much fuel is injected into the cylinders.

This temporary rich condition isn’t usually that harmful, but it can cause bucking or hesitation on lift-throttle. If the condition is really bad, it can eventually foul spark plugs and even clog the catalytic converter as unburned fuel on the catalytic converter burns very hot, and too much of it can melt the cat.

Can my tuner or engine management tune out this rich period? No.

Where do I buy aftermarket BOVs/BPVs? Every Subaru/Import performance store sells BOVs. For purchasing, support your local economy or the NASIOC Vendors.

How hard is it to install aftermarket BOVs/BPVs? Allow around 1 hour for install time. Professional installation, depending on your area, is around $75. This is one vehicle modification that is very simple and can be successfully accomplished by even the greenest shade tree mechanic.

How do I install BOVs/BPVs? Refer to the BOV/BPV manufacturer’s instructions. For BOVs/BPVs without instructions, below is a link to one of the better known installation instructions: instructions (with photos)

Editors Note

My thanks to Dan of Mach V Motorsports for writing an excellent BOV article that provided a lot of the information contained within this FAQ. He also provided additional information that was helpful in the formulation of this FAQ.

This post was created because I wasn’t able to find a good blow off valve FAQ. I came up with the text based on LOTS of searching here. Upon reading this you should have an idea of whether a blow off valve best suits your needs or not. The manufacturer is up to you.

If you find an error in this FAQ, please PM me with factual details and I will update this post. Responses such as, “I have XXX’s blow off valve and it’s great!” or “XXX’s blow off valve broke after 1 month” are not appreciated here, that is what the Car Parts Review Forum is for.

Leave a Reply

You can use these XHTML tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <blockquote cite=""> <code> <em> <strong>