How to Clean an Alero EGR Valve

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The exhaust gas recirculation valve in your Oldsmobile Alero allows exhaust gases from the exhaust system to reenter the cylinder during steady cruise-speed driving. This provides a reduction in emissions by cooling the combustion chamber -- lower nitrites of oxygen -- and taking up space in the cylinder -- lower hydrocarbon emissions. If the valve becomes clogged, excessive emissions and poor fuel mileage result. Since the valve opens a passage between the exhaust system and the intake manifold, a sticking EGR valve results in symptoms similar to a vacuum leak causing the onboard computer to store a trouble code and turns on the "Check Engine" light on the dash.

Things You'll Need

  • Socket set
  • Pick set
  • Spray parts cleaner
  • Shop towels
  • Wire coat hanger
  • New EGR valve gasket
  • Gasket scraper
  • Turn the engine off. Disconnect the negative battery cable from the battery using an 8-mm socket and ratchet. Allow the engine to cool completely.

  • Unplug the electrical connector from the top of the EGR valve. In the Alero, the EGR valve is between the throttle body and firewall on the driver's side of the engine compartment. Remove the two 10-mm bolts that attach the EGR valve to the intake manifold using a 10-mm socket, extension and ratchet wrench. Lift the valve from the engine compartment.

  • Use a pick from the pick set to pry out and remove any chunks of carbon jammed into the bottom of the valve between the valve housing and the valve tip. Remove any residue from the lead coated EGR valve gasket that is stuck to the valve using a gasket scraper.

  • Spray the openings in the bottom of the valve with spray parts cleaner and allow the cleaner to soak in and loosen carbon deposits inside the valve. Drain the cleaner from the valve by pouring the cleaner into a shop towel and respray the opening to remove carbon buildup. Repeat as necessary until the cleaner is no longer dirty when poured out of the valve.

  • Clean the EGR valve opening in the intake manifold, under where the EGR valve normally sits, with spray parts cleaner, and allow it to soak into and loosen the carbon buildup and oily residue inside the intake manifold. Push a piece of wire coat hanger into the opening to loosen hardened reside until the hanger can pass through the opening into the intake manifold.

  • Reinstall the EGR valve using a new gasket and tighten the 10-mm bolts securely. Plug the electrical connector back into the valve and reinstall the negative battery cable. Test drive the Alero to verify that the symptom is gone and the valve functions properly.

Tips & Warnings

  • The most common cause of an EGR valve related trouble code is a clogged EGR passage. It is common for the solenoids inside the valve to get damaged if the valve is stuck open and may result in an inoperative EGR valve, requiring replacement.
  • Wear safety glasses and work gloves during this procedure to prevent eye injury and skin damage from the harsh chemicals in the parts cleaner.
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