How to Clean an EGR Valve?

Symptoms of a Failing or Bad Fuel Filter

Modern cars and vehicles are integrated with this technology. However, like many parts of the car, the EGR valve can get dirty or faulty sometimes. There is a need to take great care of it.

Cleaning the EGR valve can be a little tricky, especially if you want to go the DIY way and not hire a technical professional’s services. You will need to learn and know how the EGR valve works, what signs to look for, and how you can clean it in the event it gets dirty.

Let’s find out these details.

How the EGR Valve Works?

The concern for greenhouse gas emissions and climate change informs a lot of design decisions in the automobile industry. In modern engines, an EGR Valve is the Exhaust Gas Recirculation Valve. The EGR technology is used to control Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) emissions.  Air contains mostly oxygen and nitrogen. When this air is ignited in the internal combustion engine, NOx is emitted. Nitrogen is converted to oxides of nitrogen NOx, at high temperatures.

NOx is harmful to humans and can cause respiratory issues. The EGR system is designed to recirculate a portion of the exhaust fumes back into the combustion engine. This causes the temperature to decrease and a reduction in the emission of NOx gases.

The EGR valve connects the exhaust to the intake manifold. It is typically closed. When temperatures begin to rise in the engine, the valve opens and exhaust fumes flow back into the combustion engine. Thus, at low speeds, the EGR is close but at high speeds, it opens up.

How to Clean an EGR Valve?

Most manufacturers recommend cleaning an EGR valve after 50,000 miles. However, at the sign of these symptoms and having ruled out others, it might be worth the effort to clean an EGR valve. Fortunately, cleaning the EGR can be a do-it-yourself project.

Here are the steps to clean an EGR valve:

Step 1: Get the Tools

First, assemble the tools. These include socket set, ratchet extension, dull scraper, valve gasket, ratchet, adjustable wrench (to take off a pipe), and ratchet. Added to these tools, you’ll also need the EGR carb or valve cleaner, repair manual, and others.

Step 2: Check for the EGR Location

The next step is to locate the EGR valve. Inspect the side of the cylinder head, very close to the body of the throttle. Also check the intake manifold or firewall. You can also check online via the manufacturers’ website or an auto repair shop website for how to locate it or consult your car’s manual.

Step 3: Disconnect all Electrical Fittings

Upon locating the location of the EGR valve, you will need to check if it requires that you disconnect all electrical fittings. Depending on the model of the EGR valve, there may be some electrical fittings attached to it. make sure you carefully dismount the electricall fittings to avoid any surge or electrical shock.  

Step 4: Detach Bolts

Remove the valve mounting bolts using the ratchet, extension, and socket. You may need to disconnect the hose coming from the exhaust manifold. When disconnected, check to see if the EGR gasket is still in good shape. If it is, it can be reused.

Step 5: Clean the EGR Valve

Using a carburetor cleaner, wipe the valve down to remove the carbon deposits. Use a dull scraper to scrape it down if necessary. After this process, you will need to clean all passages before connecting the valve back to its place.

Symptoms of a Faulty EGR Valve

A faulty EGR valve can cause a car to malfunction in several ways, although these symptoms may be similar to the malfunctioning of some other parts, it is wise to have the EGR valve checked out when the following symptoms occur:

  1. A rough idle at the start of the engine or when it stops briefly. This could be because the EGR valve is now permanently open.
  2. If the EGR valve is permanently open, the engine operates at a lower temperature causing impartial fuel combustion resulting in poor fuel economy.
  3. If there is a continuous flow of exhaust fumes into the intake manifold, the resultant burning of fuel at low temperatures will cause some fuel not to be burnt. The smell of fuel will be perceived from the tailpipe.
  4. Another sign of a failed EGR valve is a failed emission test.
  5. Knocking sounds coming from the engine can also be an indication of a degrading EGR valve.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Can a failed EGR cause engine sputter during idling?

Yes, Cleaning the valve should cause symptoms to disappear, and if they persist you can take it in to have other parts checked out as a failed EGR valve shares symptoms with some other common parts.

Q: My valve has stubborn carbon buildup, can I soak it overnight in the carburetor cleaner?

Possibly yes, but be aware that it can cause damage and release strong fumes. You should also be careful not to allow water to get into sensitive electrical parts.

Q: How effective is EGR valve cleaning?

It is very effective in every sense of the word. Cleaning helps to bring an EGR valve back to normal functioning and restore it to an active state. Besides, cleaning will enhance smooth idle.

However, if you notice that the EGR valve is not working even after you clean it, make sure you take the next and best step which is to replace it.

Final Thoughts

It is wise to schedule an EGR valve cleanup every 18-24 months especially if your car mostly operates at low speeds. Carbon buildup is rapid at low speeds. It is better to hire the services of a professional EGR valve cleaner. However, you can also do it yourself but the process can be a little not straightforward as you think.

Take all the necessary steps before opting to clean the EGR valve. You will need to consult your repairman for a proper diagnosis before you carry out any cleaning.