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Cleaning Your Dirty EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) Valve

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If your car is running poorly, you may be having problems with your EGR valve. There are no real tests you can perform at home for EGR valve function. If you have removed your EGR valve, often you can shake it and you will be able to hear the diaphram moving back and forth inside. If you can hear it moving, there is a good chance that your EGR valve is good and needs to be cleaned to return to normal function. If you don't hear anything, your EGR valve might be stuck. Of course, since this is not a reliable test! But if you are into general reckoning rather than definitive testing, this might be a starting point.

If you do need to clean your EGR valve, it's not too difficult. What follows are general steps that apply to most units. Newer EGR valves are electronic and have a wiring harness connected to them. For newer units, it is very important to avoid getting corrosive cleaners on the wiring and connectors.

Cleaning Your Egr Valve

  1. Remove the vacuum line
    Carefully remove the rubber vacuum line that is connected to your EGR valve. If it is brittle, broken, frayed, damaged in any way or otherwise seems tired, replace it.
  2. Disconnect the electrical harness
    If your EGR valve has an electrical connection, carefully disconnect it.
  3. Unbolt the EGR valve
    Remove the bolts that attach the EGR valve assembly to the engine. If it doesn't come right off when you have removed the nuts or bolts, it's safe to give a slight tap with a block of wood or a tiny hammer.
  4. Remove the gasket
    If your gasket looks ok (not torn, frayed or disintegrated) you can reuse it. If it's questionable, install a new one.
  5. Soak the EGR valve
    Cleaning the EGR valve assembly is a two-step deal. It really depends on how far you want to go and how much time you have. First, soak the EGR valve in a bowl filled with carb cleaner. Important: If your EGR valve has electronic connections on it, do not submerge the electrical portion in cleaner! Let it soak overnight if you can. If this isn't possible, skip to the next step.
  6. Hand clean the EGR valve
    Once you've let your EGR valve soak in cleaner overnight (if possible) you need to clean its passages, openings and surfaces with a small brush. Toothbrushes and pipe cleaners are great. Important: When hand cleaning, be sure to use chemical resistant gloves and EYE PROTECTION. Carb cleaner is nasty stuff. Basically, you want to clean everything you can reach with your cleaning brushes.
  7. Reinstall the EGR valve
    Now you can reinstall your clean EGR valve. Don't forget to reattach your vacuum hose and your electrical connections if applicable.
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