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What is an EGR Valve?
“EGR” stands for “exhaust gas recirculation,” which...well...let’s just stick with EGR, shall we?
The purpose of the EGR system is to reduce nitrogen oxide emissions. The valve is the star of the EGR party, and meters spent exhaust gases back into the engine, where they can be burned. Since those exhaust gases are inert, the amount of combustible air and fuel in the cylinders is diminished, which lowers the temperature of operation. A lower operating temperature means fewer nitrogen oxide emissions, which is a good thing for the environment.
The only time the EGR valve is used is when the car is already warmed up, and under mild acceleration or cruise conditions. Otherwise, its services aren’t needed.
In most cars, the EGR valve is controlled by the engine control module (ECM).
Signs of a faulty EGR Valve
Check engine light
Let’s get this one out of the way first, because I know you don’t pay attention to the check engine light. It’s okay, you can admit it. You’re among friends.
But here’s the thing: don’t do that. It won’t work. It won’t solve any issues. That light is there for a reason, and that reason might be a misbehaving EGR valve.
Engine performance issues
Ahh, well, if you won’t pay attention to that pesky little check engine light, I bet you’ll pay attention to a car that’s less responsive to your right foot. A malfunctioning EGR valve will cause performance issues such as hesitation, stalling, rough running, surging, sputtering, and spark knocks.
Just like you when your alarm clock goes off in the morning, your car can sometimes have trouble starting. That’s rather inconvenient, and often the result of an EGR valve that decided to not show up for work.
If your EGR valve isn’t functioning properly, your car will have worse emissions. You might not notice this, but the DMV sure will.
How urgent is an EGR Valve replacement?
Here’s the not-so-fun news. If your EGR valve is stuck closed, the combustion temperature will rise, and the engine can be damaged. If the valve is stuck open, your catalytic converter may be in trouble.
A faulty EGR valve isn’t going to make your car unsafe to drive, but it is going to cause damage, and more repairs down the road. Do you want that? No, you don’t.