The EGR valve is one of those things that many people are sure that they know how to clean, but knowing how to clean EGR valve correctly is important. If you clean the valve in the wrong manner you may find that you take away from is efficiency or effectiveness. Proper cleaning of the EGR valve will ensure that it lasts as long as possible and functions properly each and every time.
EGR valve's often get clogged with carbon deposit. These valves need to be replaced from time to time, but in between replacements they can have their life extended by cleaning them regularly. In fact, those that clean them regularly will find that they don't have the carbon deposit build up problems that often occur with EGR valves. Luckily, cleaning an EGR valve that is not clogged is really simple and can be done with a variety of different automotive or even household products.
The simplest way to clean an EGR valve is with carburetor cleaner. This is easy because the carb cleaner usually comes in an aerosol like bottle and you can simply spray the valve and let it soak. If you do this regularly you will find that the deposits don't have a chance to build up. If there is a lot of build up in the EGR valve you may actually need to remove it and soak it in some carb cleaner or something of this nature. Many people use break fluid to soak the valve in, as well.
Most manufacturers will tell you that the correct way to clean the EGR valve is to first locate the EGR valve. If you cannot find it on your own you can usually look in your owner's manual for a diagram and then you will find that it is quite easy to locate. When you do this you will need to start the vehicle, place it in park, and set the emergency brake. Allow the car to idle for several minutes, which will allow the vehicle to warm up.
Next you will need to find what is known as the EGR plunger mechanism. The job of the EGR plunger mechanism is to meter the exhaust gas recirculation by opening and closing the valve. At this point you will need to rev the engine a few times and then check the plunger to see if it is operating. If the plunger is stuck open or closed it means that you have a bad EGR that is not worth cleaning. You can try to spray it with the carb cleaner if you would like to try, but if it continues to stick you will likely find it worth your time and money to replace the EGR valve.
If you find that there is a lot of carbon deposit in the valve you can carefully take a small pipe cleaner, like the ones we used in art class as a kid, and gently scrub away at the deposits. You will do this after you allow the valve to soak in the carb cleaner for a few moments. If there is still no improvement, chances are you just need to replace the valve.
Many people think they can simply keep cleaning the EGR valve over and over again and never replace it. The fact of the matter is that you have to do more than clean it, you also need to replace it regularly. The EGR valve is responsible for re-circulating carbon dioxide from your exhaust back through the engine. If you have a bad valve or it is simply too clogged to clean you will experienced a reduction in power, pinging, rough idling, stalling, and even hesitation when accelerating. If cleaning doesn't work, it's time to simply replace the valve and be done with it.