EGR coolers are known as a weak point on most diesel engines. To extend the life of your heavy-duty engine, it is important to perform regular maintenance and safety checks, paying specific attention to your vehicle's exhaust cooling system.
What Does an EGR Cooler Do?
Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) lowers combustion temperatures by diluting the air/fuel mixture with a small amount of inert exhaust gas. The performance of your engine remains high, while the opportunity for pollutant formations is decreased significantly. The most effective diluting of the air /gas mixture happens when the exhaust gas is cool, hence the existence of the EGR cooler.
Failure Signs of EGR Cooler
If your EGR cooler fails, it could cause major damage to not only your engine, but your vehicle as well. If you know what to look for, you may be able to spot your cooler's failure before it becomes disastrous.
The most common first sign of failure is white exhaust "smoke" which is steam from boiling water or coolant. This steam can be caused by a head gasket failure, a cracked EGR cooler or condensation inside the exhaust system.
A lack of coolant in your overflow bottle is usually a reliable indicator of a leak. If you must keep refilling your coolant system, and you do not notice any drips on the ground, that coolant may be exiting through the exhaust via a leaking cooler.
Severe failures can lead to more serious problems such as connecting rods to bend, stretch head bolts, or blow the head gaskets, all causing severe engine damage.
How Can I Clean My EGR Cooler?
EGR failure is inevitable over time. However, you may be able to extend the life of your cooler, and your heavy-duty engine, by keeping your EGR cooler clean. Reduced internal pressures and improved cooling performance can be achieved by cleaning, and keeping clean, soot and debris within the EGR cooler.
Follow these simple steps to clean your EGG cooler:
- Remove the cooler from the vehicle.
- Fill the cooler with a detergent.
- Soak cooler in the detergent to dissolve deposits.
- Thoroughly rinse the cooler to remove the loose deposits.
- Let the cooler dry, then reinstall it.
To clean extremely dirty coolers ultrasonic cleaner may be used. The ultrasonic waves vibrate and loosen the debris, while circulating detergent through the passages, which can speed up the cleaning process.