Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Project #7 - The EGR Valve

EGR means Exhaust Gas Return.  Supposedly, mixing in a little exhaust gas with the combustion chamber fuel reduces nitrogen oxide.  The EGR valve is a common ingredient of the spaghetti of pollution control hoses and devices under almost any vehicle hood.  Yesterday, the first time I drove the Zuki, I noticed the smell of "rich" gas.  Normally, that would mean the carb was not adjusted correctly but that's rarely a problem with the stock Hitachi.  It's almost always some other culprit.  I spent about 3 hours online last night reading everything I could about vacuum lines and the pollution control stuff on the Zuki.  I came to Hypothesis #1 that the rich burning smell was due to a malfunctioning EGR valve.  A lot of commentators said to simply make a plate and block off the valve entirely.  They said I would pick up noticeable horsepower and fuel economy, too.  Well, I am keeping that option open.  About half of the commentators cautioned against disabling the EGR valve saying it would cause bigger problems elsewhere.  A consensus of those commentators suggested simply cleaning the EGR valve with brake cleaner and elbow grease.  I chose the latter solution, at least for now.  Luckily, I was able to find an EGR gasket for $1.48.  Naturally, I checked the Autozone on the Westside and the part was only available at their Eastside Store.  So it goes.

After much double checking with various diagrams and pictures, I was certain I had identified the EGR valve.  There's so many valves under the hood it's easy to get confused.  I was able to loosed both 10 mm bolts and easily pull the valve off the intake manifold.  The two vacuum lines also disconnected very easily.  The device was filthy, of course.  I used about half a can of brake cleaner to thoroughly clean it out.  It was easy to tell the diaphram was stuck when I pulled it out.  After much cleaner fluid was applied, the diaphragm broke loose and worked again.  I gave the diaphragm a thorough inspection and it appears to be intact.  After about 30 minutes if cleaning, I let the part sit in the sun to air dry.  Brake cleaner fluid will evaporate very quickly!  Also, It's important to capture as much used brake cleaner fluid as possible.  This is nasty stuff.  Do not let it go into the soil!  I used a plastic wash tub to wash and clean the part so I could capture the used fluid.  Then I put it in a glass jar.  It will be suitable for cleaner small parts for quite some time.

Next, Was able to get off the old gasket and there was no gasket residue on the manifold.  Imagine that!  So,  I popped on the new gasket, reconnected the vacuum lines and snugged in the two bolts with my fingers.  Yes, they went in that easily!  I gently torqued them into place.  You dont' want to man-handle an aluminum manifold.  it's EVER so easy to strip out a tap in one of those manifolds.  Go easy!

The total cost for this project was the gasket ($1.48) and the brake cleaner fluid ($2.37) so call it four bucks.
I printed out an eBay listing for a new Samurai EGR valve.  It's listed for $164!  They aren't any longer available at the parts houses here in the city.

Now, the only thing that remains it to go out driving and see if there's any difference.

NOTE ADDED shortly after the blog post done--we took it for a drive and neither one of us could smell that gas smell.  It had noticeably more power and "zip!"  YEA for online research!!!!!

Copyright Notice--The small vacuum line diagram is used from ACK's FAQ which is hotlinked via the left hand column here.  If you use ACK's stuff, you really oughta donate to him, too!  I sure plan to.

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