An EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) system is tasked with managing emissions and pollution from modern vehicles. Introduced in 1970 to help make gasoline cars run cleaner, the system was adapted to enable diesel engines to reduce noxious oxide in later years.
Today, EGR systems are widespread and play an integral role in keeping the environment clean. Just like any other car part, EGR systems need special care, and using an EGR valve cleaner can help you keep your system running smoothly.
There are two types of EGR systems: internal EGRs, where exhaust gases are pulled back into the cylinder by overlapping the opening time of the intake and exhaust valve, and external EGRs, where exhaust gases are sent back into the intake manifold through an external duct and an EGR valve.
Vehicle owners may not be familiar with EGR systems until a problem occurs with one. A sluggish engine or pinging sound can indicate that something is wrong. Sometimes, it’s just the oxygen sensor, but if the OBD-II code is showing the EGR, then you have a problem. Often, you can simply clean the valve.
How to Use EGR Valve Cleaner
Reference your owner’s manual to confirm when to replace the EGR valve. Typically, the replacement interval is 50,000 miles or higher. You can prolong the valve’s life by cleaning it according to the following instructions:
- Find the right cleaning product. Opt for a dedicated EGR valve cleaner or use a carburetor cleaner.
- Wear safety gear. You’ll be able to spray the cleaner specifically on a single target, but there is always a chance of back splash. Therefore, you should wear acid-resistant gloves and safety glasses while you work. A mask to filter airborne chemicals would also be a wise addition.
- Prep your vehicle. Find an even surface, park the vehicle and apply the emergency brake. Locate the battery and disconnect the negative terminal.
- Locate the EGR valve. An EGR valve is often found attached or adjacent to the intake manifold. Take note of the connecting tube that runs to the exhaust manifold. Disconnect the vacuum hoses and electrical connectors. Use an appropriate tool, such as an adjustable wrench, Torx driver, ratchet or socket to separate the brackets holding the valve in place, and then pull the EGR valve away from the engine block.
- Set the valve outside the car on newspaper or cloth. Next, aim the cleaner nozzle at the carbon buildup. Use a pipe cleaning brush to expunge the now loosened detritus. Repeat the spraying process to remove stubborn buildup. Consider leaving the valve to the side for an extended period of time to allow the solution to penetrate, and then return and remove the remaining carbon later.
- Before you reinstall, make sure the valve is dry. Follow steps one through four in reverse order to reconnect, and then safely store your tools and any remaining cleaner.
A malfunctioning EGR system can damage your engine if the problem is ignored. Moreover, your vehicle will fail its next smog test if the problem isn’t fixed, and as a conscientious consumer, you want to make sure your vehicle isn’t polluting the environment. If cleaning doesn’t help the situation you should simply buy a new EGR valve.
Check out all the fuel & emission system parts available on NAPA Online, or trust one of our 17,000 NAPA AutoCare locations for routine maintenance and repairs. For more information on EGR valves, chat with a knowledgeable expert at your local NAPA AUTO PARTS store.
Photo courtesy of Flickr.
Matt Keegan has maintained his love for cars ever since his father taught him kicking tires can be one way to uncover a problem with a vehicle’s suspension system. He since moved on to learn a few things about coefficient of drag, G-forces, toe-heel shifting, and how to work the crazy infotainment system in some random weekly driver. Matt is a member of the Washington Automotive Press Association and is a contributor to various print and online media sources.