While there’s a growing market for cars that are completely or partially powered by electric batteries, gas-burning engines are still the norm.
If you have a car, you probably rely on gasoline to make it go. We know how the basic process works – even those who aren’t car savvy have some idea of the process. You put gas in the tank then it is eventually burnt up by the engine for fuel.
There are some complications with this procedure, and we’re not just talking about all the parts involved in the process. There are factors to note, like exactly how good your gas mileage is as well as the number of harmful emissions your vehicle releases.
But some components are designed to offer a little boost in both these areas. Thanks to your exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve, you can get better fuel economy and release fewer damaging emissions to the environment.
What exactly is an EGR valve, and how important is it? And if it is crucial to your vehicle’s optimal function, how do you know if it is working properly?
What is an EGR Valve? How Is It Useful?
Your EGR valve plays a more important role in your vehicle than you may realize. What seems like a simple and straight-forward process to fuel your vehicle with gas is actually a complex sequence that depends on multiple variables.
Variables – that’s a word that lets us know sometimes things could be different in different situations. For example, your engine may not burn all the fuel it has access to during the first circulation of said fuel. In some cases, it would be good to have a way to resend the fuel back to the engine – luckily, that’s what your EGR valve does.
The pneumatic device is designed to recirculate between 5-15 percent of the fuel sent to the engine initially. This is roughly the amount that isn’t burned the first time around. The valve will open and close as needed, depending on how much fuel is available.
The benefit of the EGR valve is that it can help you get more burn from your total fuel capacity. There’s also an added benefit to this from an environmental perspective. With more good gas being burnt up, there’s a reduced level of harmful gas fumes being pumped out into the environment.
The EGR valve is as much an eco-friendly device as it is a fuel-efficiency device. But while you may be confident in how your car is working now, how would you really know if the EGR valve failed? And since it provides a couple of very valuable functions, how can you keep it working properly?
How to Spot a Malfunctioning EGR Valve
Like most parts of your vehicle, the EGR valve has an important role. It also has its own way of telling you if something is amiss. When the valve messes up, you need to know. Here are some of the main warning signs you can look for.
1. Your Fuel-Efficiency and Acceleration Rates Are Reduced
As mentioned, one of the EGR valve’s main functions is to increase the rate of fuel efficiency you enjoy by circulating gasoline back through the engine in the event it wasn’t burned up properly the first time. So, one of the first things you may notice when it comes to your vehicle’s EGR valve performance is lower gas mileage.
The EGR valve isn’t the only component that can contribute to this, but lower mileage does mean it is possible the valve is going bad. But what exactly happens when your vehicle burns up more gas as you slam on the accelerator? You accelerate, right? If that process is slowing down too, look to your EGR valve first.
Again, it could be any number of components – but the valve is one of the chief culprits if both your fuel economy and rate of acceleration have taken a tumble.
2. You Notice Knocking and Sparking
This is an automatic red flag, you may just not know the source. But the moment you hear a knocking sound in your engine, there should be immediate concern about whether your EGR valve is working properly.
As small explosions occur within the engine from faulty processes, it can lead to abrasions and mechanical damage. This, in turn, wears down your engine from the initial impact, and throughout every associated process on the damaged component. Or in other words, if it is knocking and still running the damage could be getting more severe.
Sparking is another problem that is an immediate red flag since sparks can lead to fire! But when there is sparking, even in minimal amounts, it’s a sign that your EGR valve could’ve failed and that you need an immediate fix.
3. Idling Becomes Rougher and More Uneven
There’s nothing quite like the low roar of a smooth, stable, steady engine running correctly. But even when a single part of this setup is out of whack, it can throw everything off. This means a failing EGR valve can cause you to notice some rough movements in your vehicle even when it is still in park.
Rough idling can mean that your engine isn’t cycling fuel properly or isn’t burning all of that fuel efficiently. How much does this matter in the long run? In short, a lot. These issues don’t get better. They need attention or the problem can persist, wearing down the otherwise fine parts of your engine in the process.
An EGR valve that is failing could fail to close properly leading to fuel leaking down into the intake manifold. This could lead to that chugging or bouncing feeling when the engine starts, which is a direct sign of trouble.
4. The Check Engine Light Comes On
This may seem like an easy one, but it’s something many people overlook. Some drivers even travel around for miles or days with this light on, paying it no mind until the damage becomes too severe to ignore.
If you’re looking to get an early jump on a failing EGR valve, the check engine light is something you need to watch. It can be a direct indicator that the valve is going bad. And while that isn’t the only issue that will trigger the light, it is a likely culprit.
If the EGR valve is having problems with its circuitry or positioning, it can set off the check engine light. The valve’s issues can also cause the light to go off if said issues result in the engine missing, or causing other components like spark plugs to fail.
As we can see, there are plenty of warning signs we can look for to tell whether or not the EGR valve is failing. But how important is it to keep a check on this? How often should it be inspected?
How to Keep Your EGR Valve in Good Shape
The valve is just like any other component on your vehicle – the best way to keep it in good condition is through regular checks and maintenance. Good habits breed success, and checking the component every so often can be great for making sure it works properly.
But just how often should you check the valve? Whenever you are in the car is a chance to check it, technically. You can feel for uneven idling, listen for odd noises, and even pop the hood every week or so to make sure the component isn’t showing any visual signs of wear.
If you get a routine inspection done on your vehicle or take it in for regular oil changes every 3-6 months, it is a great time to have your mechanic check the valve for you. They don’t usually wear out that quickly, so it will be easy for you to have it checked over and find out whenever any problems are at risk of occurring.
The best way to take care of your car is to make sure all of its individual components are in good shape – and with routine inspections and an understanding of the warning signs, good habits are easier than ever to build.
The Benefits of Having a Good EGR Valve
When you have a fully functional EGR valve you can enjoy many benefits. The first is that you can get maximum fuel efficiency. This doesn’t just mean you get better gas mileage, but it means there’s less strain on the other parts of your engine.
You may also be the type of driver who wants to leave a smaller carbon footprint. If this is the case, you can still be more efficient even if you have a gas-powered engine you can get better fuel economy and fewer emissions. It’s a win-win for you and for the environment.
The EGR valve in your car may not be the most well-known part, but it is very important. When you know the signs to look for, you can tell whenever this critical component is failing and get it replaced.