GM Chevy Mid-Size Cars 1964-1988 Repair Guide

Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) System

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See Figures 1, 2 and 3

Since the 1970 model year most engines covered by this guide are equipped with an exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system. The EGR system typically consists of a metering valve, a vacuum line to the carburetor, and cast-in exhaust gas passages in the intake manifold. The EGR valve is controlled by carburetor vacuum, and accordingly opens and closes to admit exhaust gases into the fuel/air mixture. The exhaust gases lower the combustion temperature, thereby reducing the amount of nitrogen oxides (NOx) produced. The valve is closed at idle and open between the two extreme throttle positions.

In most installations, vacuum to the EGR valve is controlled by a thermal vacuum switch (TVS). The switch, which is installed into the engine block or thermostat housing, shuts off vacuum to the EGR valve until the engine is properly warmed. This prevents the stalling and lumpy idle which would result if EGR occurred when the engine was cold.



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Fig. Fig. 1: Negative backpressure EGR valve



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Fig. Fig. 2: Both negative and positive backpressure EGR valves may be found on Chevrolet mid-size vehicles



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Fig. Fig. 3: Cross section of a positive backpressure EGR valve

As the car accelerates, the carburetor throttle plate uncovers the vacuum port for the EGR valve. At 3-5 in. Hg, the EGR valve opens and some of the exhaust gases are allowed to flow into the air/fuel mixture in order to lower the combustion temperature. At full throttle the valve closes again.

Some California engines are equipped with dual diaphragm EGR valve. This valve further limits the exhaust gas opening (compared to the single diaphragm EGR valve) during high intake manifold vacuum periods, such as high speed cruising, and provides more exhaust gas recirculation during acceleration when manifold vacuum is low. In addition to the hose running to the thermal vacuum switch, a second hose is connected directly to the intake manifold.

For 1977, all California models and cars delivered in areas above 4000 ft. are equipped with backpressure EGR valves. This valve is also used on all 1978-81 models. The EGR valve receives exhaust backpressure through its hollow shaft. This exerts a force on the bottom of the control valve diaphragm, opposed by a light spring. Under low exhaust pressure (low engine load and partial throttle), the EGR signal is reduced by an air bleed. Under conditions of high exhaust pressure (high engine load and large throttle opening), the air bleed is closed and the EGR valve responds to an unmodified vacuum signal. At wide open throttle, the EGR flow is reduced in proportion to the amount of vacuum signal available.

The 1979 and later models have a ported signal vacuum EGR valve. The valve opening is controlled by the amount of vacuum obtained from a ported vacuum source on the carburetor and the amount of backpressure in the exhaust system.

EGR VACUUM CONTROL SOLENOID



See Figures 4, 5, 6 and 7

For better control over the EGR system flow on 1981 and later models, a solenoid is used in the vacuum line. The solenoid is controlled by the Electronic Control Module (ECM), which uses information from the coolant temperature, throttle position, and manifold pressure sensors to regulate the vacuum solenoid. On most models, the solenoid is turned on or off for periods of time in order to cut or allow vacuum to the EGR valve. For example, when the engine is cold, a signal from the ECM energizes the EGR solenoid, thus blocking vacuum to the EGR valve.



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Fig. Fig. 4: EGR vacuum control solenoid-229 V6 and 305 V8 engines



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Fig. Fig. 5: EGR control solenoid location-231 V6 engine

On some later models, the ECM uses "Pulse Width Modulation'' during cold engine operation (meaning it turns the solenoid on and off many times a second) to achieve an even more exact control over the amounts of exhaust gas that are recirculated. After engine warm up, the ECM allows vacuum and backpressure to take over control as in the earlier solenoid controlled models.

For all solenoid controlled systems, the solenoid is also energized during cranking and wide-open throttle. When the engine warms up, the EGR solenoid is turned off by the ECM, and the EGR valve operates according to normal ported vacuum and exhaust backpressure signals.



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Fig. Fig. 6: EGR control solenoid location-1985 262 V6 engine



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Fig. Fig. 7: EGR control solenoid location-1986 and later 262 V6 engine

FAULTY EGR VALVE SYMPTOMS



See Figure 8

An EGR valve that stays open when it should be closed causes weak combustion, resulting in a rough running engine and/or frequent stalling. Too much EGR flow at idle, cruise, or when cold can cause any of the following:



Engine stopping after a cold start
 
Engine stopping at idle after deceleration
 
Surging during cruising
 
Rough idle
 

An EGR valve which is stuck closed and allows little or no EGR flow causes extreme combustion temperatures (too hot) during acceleration. Spark knock (detonation or pinging), engine overheating and excess engine emissions can all be a result, as well as engine damage.



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Fig. Fig. 8: Possible causes of EGR system faults

REMOVAL & INSTALLATION



EGR Valve

See Figures 9 and 10

  1. Detach the vacuum line(s) from the EGR valve. If there is more than one line, be sure to label them to assure proper installation.
  2.  
  3. Unfasten the two bolts or bolt and clamp which attach the valve to the manifold, then remove the valve.
  4.  
  5. Make sure the old valve gasket is removed from the manifold.
  6.  

To install:
  1. Thoroughly clean the gasket mating surfaces of the valve and manifold.
  2.  
  3. Install the valve to the manifold. Always use a new gasket between the valve and the manifold.
  4.  
  5. Install and tighten the valve retainers.
  6.  
  7. Attach the vacuum line(s). On dual diaphragm valves, attach the carburetor vacuum line to the tube at the top of the valve, and the manifold vacuum line to the tube at the center of the valve.
  8.  



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Fig. Fig. 9: Pull the EGR valve and gasket from the top of the intake manifold



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Fig. Fig. 10: Exploded view of a common EGR valve mounting-note that the spacer is not used in all applications

TVS Switch

See Figures 11 and 12

  1. Drain the engine cooling system to a level below the TVS switch.
  2.  


CAUTION
When draining the coolant, keep in mind that cats and dogs are attracted by the ethylene glycol antifreeze, and are quite likely to drink any that is left in an uncovered container or in puddles on the ground. This will prove fatal in sufficient quantity. Always drain the coolant into a sealable container. Coolant should be reused unless it is contaminated or several years old.

  1. Disconnect the vacuum lines from the switch noting their locations for assembly purposes.
  2.  
  3. Carefully unthread the switch from the bore.
  4.  

To install:
  1. Apply sealer to the threaded portion of the switch.
  2.  
  3. Install the switch to the bore and tighten it to 15 ft. lbs. (20 Nm).
  4.  
  5. If possible, rotate the head of the switch to a position that will permit easy hookup of vacuum hoses.
  6.  
  7. Connect the vacuum hoses to the proper connectors as noted during removal.
  8.  



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Fig. Fig. 11: Example of a Thermostatic Vacuum Switch (TVS)-Nipple 1 is to the distributor; 2 is to the TCS solenoid and 4 is to the intake manifold



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Fig. Fig. 12: Some thermostatic switch vacuum lines are harness attached to ease service

EGR VALVE CLEANING




WARNING
Do not wash the valve assembly in solvents or degreasers. Permanent damage to the valve diaphragm may result.

Valves That Protrude from Mounting Face

See Figure 13

  1. Remove the EGR valve from the intake manifold.
  2.  
  3. Holding the valve assembly in hand, use a small plastic hammer to tap the valve lightly and remove exhaust deposits from the valve seat. Shake out any loose particles. DO NOT put the valve in a vise.
  4.  
  5. Carefully remove any exhaust deposits from the mounting surface of the valve with a wire wheel or putty knife. Be careful not to score or damage the mounting surface.
  6.  
  7. Depress the valve diaphragm and inspect the valve seating areas through the valve outlet for cleanliness. If the valve and/or seat are not completely clean, attempt to remove the remaining deposits using the plastic hammer.
  8.  
  9. Look for exhaust deposits in the valve outlet, and remove any deposits with an old screwdriver or small prytool.
  10.  
  11. Clean the mounting surfaces of the intake manifold and valve assembly, then install the valve to the intake.
  12.  



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Fig. Fig. 13: On EGR assemblies whose valves are protruding from the mounting face, tap the valve lightly with a small plastic hammer to loosen exhaust deposits

Shielded Valves or Valves That Do Not Protrude
  1. Remove the valve from the intake manifold.
  2.  
  3. Clean the base of the valve with a wire brush or wheel to remove exhaust deposits from the mounting surface.
  4.  
  5. Clean the valve seat and valve in an abrasive-type spark plug cleaning machine or sand-blaster. Most machine shops provide this service. Make sure the valve portion is cleaned (blasted) for about 30 seconds, and that the valve is also cleaned with the diaphragm spring fully compressed (valve unseated). The cleaning should be repeated until all deposits are removed.
  6.  
  7. The valve must be blown out with compressed air thoroughly to ensure all abrasive material is removed from the valve.
  8.  
  9. Clean the mounting surface of the intake manifold and valve assembly, then install the valve.
  10.  

 
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