With the advent of modern combustion engines, having a working Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) is vital to the smooth running of your automobile. The system regulates nitrogen oxide emissions that come as a by-product of your automobile’s combustion process.
We will discuss important EGR subjects like how to test an EGR valve without a vacuum pump, test an EGR valve at home, types of EGR valves, and lots more.
First, let us learn more about EGR’s function in your car’s engine. It is a simple process; air from the environment containing nitrogen and oxygen combines with fuel and ignites inside the combustion compartment. As a result, temperature increases, and nitrogen oxide emissions continue. The EGR system enables the return of some part of the exhaust gas into the engine combustion compartment through the intake manifold. This process helps to reduce temperature and the amount of nitrogen oxide emissions.
The most important part of an EGR setup is the EGR valve. The valve is usually closed, but it still serves as the exhaust and intake manifold connector. A vacuum pump or an in-built electric step motor controls the flow between this junction. The EGR valve must function accordingly for the exhaust gas flow to be adequately regulated depending on the engine load.
Common EGR Valve Problems
The most frequent EGR valve problem is a blockage caused by the buildup of carbon deposits. In extreme situations, the EGR valve and EGR chamber become entirely blocked so that the recirculation of exhaust gas becomes impossible. A blocked EGR system causes the release of thick black smoke from the exhaust pipe. Furthermore, fuel consumption increases while general performance decreases. However, when the EGR valve does not open or close, the engine warning indicator on your automobile’s dashboard lights up.
A constant smell of fuel filling up the inside of the car is another symptom of a failing EGR valve. This smell comes from more and more hydrocarbons released due to increased fuel consumption. It is easy to pick up this irritating choking smell, and inhaling it for long periods can cause serious health challenges. Apart from regulating nitrogen oxide emissions, the exhaust gas recirculation valve ensures fuel efficiency by controlling the pressure and temperature inside the engine cylinders. For the best results, the EGR valve opens up at strategic times. The EGR temperature sensor information determines how the valve opens up or closes on time. So, as the engine’s temperature rises, the EGR valve opens up to compensate for the increase. As soon as the temperature cools down, the EGR closes back up again.
Another common EGR valve problem does not involve the valve itself. If the EGR temperature sensor is damaged or takes a faulty reading, the valve will fail to function. The EGR system’s flow will always fall short regardless of the engine’s temperature. You can restore normal operations by having the temperature sensor repaired or replaced.
Types of EGR Valves
The most common types of EGR valves include an electronically controlled and vacuum-operated EGR valve. An electronically controlled or digital valve features a stepper motor; or a solenoid and a feedback sensor. This type of valve allows the system to receive a pulse width modulated signal to regulate the gas flow in the exhaust.
On the other hand, a vacuum-controlled EGR valve utilizes a vacuum solenoid to regulate the vacuum to the diaphragm and, in the process, closes and opens the EGR.
How to Test EGR Valve Without Vacuum Pump?
Step 1: Finding the Valve
To test the EGR valve, you need to know its location and appearance. In most cases, you will find the valve located at the side corner of the top side of the engine. The valve is around and thick metal disc, and it is about three inches in diameter. Depending on your automobile, you may need to look under and between some engine components. Overall, you will find a vacuum pump at the top of the valve. Please read through your vehicle service manual if you still have issues locating the valve after this. You will likely find the picture of the EGR valve in it.
Step 2: Testing the Valve
The metal disc of the valve bears a diaphragm, spring, and plunger to help keep the valve in a closed position. While the engine runs, the vacuum pulls on the diaphragm to open the valve by overcoming spring pressure. If you have a good hold on the EGR valve, you should be able to see small openings at the underside of the metal disc. Try sticking your fingers into the opening to get a push on the diaphragm to test the valve. If the diaphragm remains static after applying pressure, you need to check the EGR valve chamber for carbon blockages that stop plunger movement. In other cases, you could be dealing with a mechanical failure.
Step 3: Testing for Diaphragm Condition
EGR valve diaphragm suffers wear and tear; if left unchecked can cause leakage of exhaust gases. You can check the valve case and conduct a simple test to confirm the condition of the diaphragm. First, you will need to apply the parking brake, stop the wheels, and start your automobile’s engine. Next, find a can carburetor cleaner and insert the thin straw into the tip. Lastly, carefully run some of the cleaners through the openings at the underside near the diaphragm. If the engine’s RPM rises as you spray the cleaner, it means you have a leaking diaphragm, and the valve needs changing.
Step 4: Testing for Stem Operations
Start your engine and leave it idle for about 15 minutes to get to optimal operating temperature. While in the idle state, raise the engine speed to about 2,500 RPM. To do this, you will need to push quickly and let go of the accelerator linkage by hand, or you can ask for assistance from someone else. They will help you press and release the accelerator pedal at your command. As you do this, carefully observe the valve diaphragm. You can use a small mirror if necessary.
If the diaphragm or stem does not show movement, disconnect the vacuum hose connected to the top of the valve. Now, place your finger on the opening you disconnected the hose from. Increase the RPM as you did earlier. You should feel a little pressure on the tip of your finger, depending on the system you are dealing with. If you do not feel a pressure change, the problem may lie with the valve’s circuit that provides pressure. Reconnect the thin vacuum hose back to where you disconnected it from.
How Do You Check if the EGR Valve is Stuck Open?
When the EGR valve is stuck open, several symptoms will begin to come up in your automobile. However, the major sign you should look out for is the idle becoming rough and unstable during a brief stop or when starting the car. Moreover, the combustion temperature will spike when the EGR valve is stuck open, resulting in surging detonating light acceleration.
You should take a look at your EGR valve if you notice any of the signs below:
- Poor Vehicle Performance: Poor vehicle performance can result from a closed or open valve, and a faulty EGR valve will automatically fluctuate your vehicle’s performance.
- Excessive Fuel Consumption: A continuously open valve will lead to an increase in fuel consumption. Open valves will have low temperatures and not burn fuel to the optimal level.
- The Exhaust’s Smell Gets Inside the Vehicle: Anytime there is a continuous flow of gas, car owners will begin to perceive the smell of the exhaust gasses right inside their vehicle.
- The Vehicle Stalls When Idle: Stalling when the car is idling becomes a regular occurrence when the EGR valve is open. The open valve lets the exhaust gas continuously flow into the EGR chamber.
- Engine Light Remains On: An issue with the EGR valve will prompt the car’s system to turn on the Check Engine Light on the dashboard. You may need a scanner to check for the specific problem, but it is always crucial to act fast before the EGR fails completely.
- Thicker Emissions: Thicker emissions will continue to come out of the car if the EGR valve is not working as it should. The valve gets stuck when the temperature drops and stops the complete combustion of fuel.
How Can I Test My EGR Valve At Home?
If your car is running poorly, the chances are that something is not right with the EGR valve. While you cannot do much on your car’s EGR valve at home, there are some basic tests and repairs you can carry out. With some guidance and elbow grease, you can address it yourself and save some extra cash with hard work.
Basic Home EGR Valve Test
Follow the process discussed in the earlier sections to locate the position of your vehicle’s EGR valve. Once you have detected the valve, shake it lightly. If you hear or feel a back and forth movement, that is the valve’s diaphragm. It means that your EGR valve is still good, and you only need to clean it for it to return to a proper working condition. If you do not hear or feel a movement, it could mean that the valve is stuck or just clogged up. Although this is not a 100% accurate test, it is at least a start.
DIY EGR Valve Repair
If you decide to clean the EGR valve yourself, then do so; it is not complicated. If you are dealing with a newer engine, the EGR valve will likely be electric; you will have to go through some wirework before you access the valve. Further, you should also turn off the engine while you are at it. You will also have to avoid using corrosive cleaners that may affect the electrical functionality of the wires and connectors. It would help if you had a protective eye google and a chemical-resistant glove on. When you have all of these in place, you are on the way to getting your car running properly again. Next, follow the steps below:
1. Remove your car’s vacuum line
Carefully remove your EGR valve’s connected rubber vacuum line. If it is even slightly brittle, broken, or damaged, you should replace it. Vacuum problems tend to escalate into other engine issues.
2. Remove the electrical harness
If your EGR has an electrical connection, please carefully disconnect the wires and lay them aside. Again, avoid bringing any form of corrosive cleaner near these wires.
3. Detach the EGR valve from the engine
Find the bolts that connect the EGR valve to the engine and remove them. If you find it hard to remove after unbolting it, give it a slight tap or use a hammer or block of wood to knock it out of the valve.
4. Unhook the gasket
If the gasket does not look damaged, you do not have to replace it. If you are in doubt, then change it. However, it is recommended that you change the gasket any time you make a repair.
5. Soak the EGR valve
You have to follow a two-step process when cleaning the EGR chamber. However, it depends on the time you allot to cleaning and how far into the chamber you plan to clean. First, immerse the valve in a bowl full of carb cleaner. These cleaners do not have the best smells, so ensure that you carry out this operation in a well-ventilated area. Let it stay overnight if you can. If you cannot do this, please skip this process. Also, never soak the electronic part of your EGR valve if it has some electrical connections on it.
6. Manually clean the EGR valve
It would be good if you could soak the valve overnight. Further, using a small brush, you need to clean all surfaces, passages, and openings carefully. You can use a toothbrush for this as long as you soak it in the carb cleaner as well. Do not forget to have a chemical-resistant glove and a protective glove on. Ensure that you thoroughly clean every aspect that your brush can reach. Remove as much of the carbon causing the blockage on the valve; the more, the better.
7. Reinstall the EGR valve
When you have cleaned the valve, you can reinstall it. Do not forget to put back the electrical connections (if applicable) and the vacuum hose. However, if the issues persist or are related to the EGR valve, then have it replaced.
How to Test an EGR Valve?
Another way to troubleshoot your EGR is by using a vacuum pump. While the car engine is idling and operating at optimum temperature, remove the vacuum hose from the valve, then block it with a thin head screwdriver or an object of a similar size.
Next, connect a hand pump to the valve via the outlet you disconnected the vacuum hose from. Then attach a 15 inHg to the valve. If you do not have a vacuum pump, you can borrow or rent from a local auto parts dealer. As you apply vacuum to the valve, observe the diaphragm movement. Also, pay close attention to the engine idle. The idle should become rough, or the engine should stall as you use the vacuum. If the plunger remains static or the valve does not bear the vacuum you apply, it is time to change your EGR valve.
If you do not notice any change, and the plunger shows signs of movement, and the diaphragm bears the vacuum, then carbon residue is blocking the passages of the EGR system or the valve. You can refer to the sections above for simple ways to clean EGR valve surfaces.
How to Test an Electric EGR Valve?
Electrical EGR Valves are somewhat different and require a different troubleshooting approach. Follow the steps below to get to your electric EGR valve:
Please turn off your vehicle and remove the key from its ignition. Allow some time for the valve to cool down. Open the hood of your car and locate the EGR valve. Set the multimedia on and turn the dial to Volts DC. The EGR bears five circuits marked A to E. Proceed to attach the red lead wire to the EGR circuit labeled C. Connect the black multimedia lead wire to a ground point to serve as the battery’s negative cable. Turn the ignition key on. Then check the multimedia reading. If the recorded reading exceeds 0.9, then the system needs some service. If no reading shows up, the EGR is damaged and needs replacing immediately.
EGR valves are crucial to the overall health of your car’s engine and its performance. Frequent checks and troubleshooting of the EGR will help you detect valve faults on time and put you in the best position to take the appropriate action. If you are confident, you can troubleshoot the EGR system at home by yourself and carry out simple repairs on the system.
In this article, you have learned how to test an EGR valve without a vacuum pump, among other things. You will need to identify your vehicle’s model and its specific EGR type for the best results. Moreover, boosting your car’s performance at home is not so complicated at all.