Since the 1960s, vehicle manufacturers have used Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) in their vehicles’ valve to minimize the emissions of nitrous oxide. This important component inside the engine works by recirculating small amounts of exhaust to the engine’s combustion cycle. The heat from the exhaust then allows the combustion chamber to warm up faster, and at the same time, the inert gases keep the chambers from getting too hot when as the engine warms up.

Both electric and mechanical components open and close EGR valve to control gas flow. If left open, the excess vacuum will cause problems for the engine, causing it to stall, idle roughly or surge. If it stays closed, detonation happens in the combustion chambers; the knocking and pinging will lower the lifespan and mileage of the engine. This is why it is important to keep the EGR valve clean, to ensure better gas flow.

There are many reasons that can lead to your vehicle running poorly, but one of the most common problems is a dirty EGR valve. Unfortunately, there is no way to test your EGR valve’s function at home. But there is a simple way to anticipate problems. Remove your EGR valve and shake it, if you can hear the EGR diaphragm moving back and forth smoothly, then it is in a good and functioning condition. If you can’t hear anything, then the diaphragm might be stuck. This however, is not a reliable test, but can be a good starting point. Fortunately, most problems can be solved by simply cleaning the EGR. But how do you clean the EGR? Follow these simple tips.

Tips to Clean your EGR Valve

Step 1. Remove Vacuum Line

Gently, remove the rubber vacuum line that connects to your EGR valve. If it is damaged, frayed or feels brittle, then it is time to replace it.

Step 2. Disconnect the Electrical Harness

For EGR valve with electrical connection, carefully disconnect the electrical harness.

Step 3. Unbolt the EGR Valve from the Engine

Remove the EGR valve assembly by loosening and unbolting it from the engine. Some bolts and nuts can be too tight and hard to twist. You might need a slight tap using a block of wood or a small hammer to remove them.

Step 4. Remove the Gasket

If the gasket looks questionable (disintegrated, frayed or torn), then you need to replace it. If it still looks good, then you can definitely reuse it.

Step 5. Soak the EGR Valve Clean

There are two ways to clean your car’s EGR valve assembly, and it depends on how far you want to go with it or how much time you can spare. First, soak the valve in a bowl of carb cleaner. Make sure you remove all electronic connections before you submerge the valve. Also, never submerge the electrical portion of the valve in a curb cleaner. If possible, let the EGR soak overnight. If you can’t afford to have it soaked overnight, then proceed to Step 6.

Step 6. Hand Clean the EGR Valve Thoroughly

After soaking your EGR, clean the surface, openings and passages thoroughly using a small brush. Pipe cleaners and toothbrushes can also do the job. Make sure you wear eye protection and chemical resistant gloves when hand cleaning though, as carb cleaner can be harsh on the skin. Brush and clean the valve thoroughly.

Step 7. Reinstall the EGR Valve

After cleaning the EGR valve, it is now ready to be reinstalled to the engine. Make sure you reattach the vacuum hose and electrical connections (if applicable) when reinstalling the EGR.