How to Remove, Clean or Bypass the EGR Valve on Trafic, Vivaro & Primastar Vans
Do you want this in your engine?
This article is about EGR (exhaust gas recirculation) valves, their effects on your engine and how to remove and replace them. When I was looking for advice on this, I couldn't find anything specific to my van, which is a Renault Trafic, so I thought I'd write this article.
This is for anyone out there who has a Renault Trafic 1.9dci, Opel / Vauxhall Vivaro 1.9dti, or Nissan Primastar 1.9dci van and wants to know how to locate, clean, replace or bypass the EGR valve.
What is an exhaust gas recirculation valve?
The exhaust gas recirculation valve is attached to the air inlet manifold. Under certain circumstances it opens up to feed exhaust gases into the air intake of the engine.
There are several reasons for this, the first is that it heats the engine up quicker from a cold start, which leads to improved efficiency on short journeys as diesel engines don't run efficiently when cold. The engine also creates less NOx, which is better for the environment.
However exhaust fumes being pumped into the engine means there is less oxygen available, as the fresh air that is sucked in from outside is mixed with exhaust fumes. This leads to sooty carbon build up inside the engine and also has an impact on performance as your engine is using air mixed with exhaust fumes rather than fresh clean air.
A common problem with EGR valves is that they clog up with soot and don't function properly. They are supposed to only be open in certain circumstances and are controlled by the engine management system. If they clog, they can stay open all the time which leads to poor engine performance.
There are several options available to you when it comes to the EGR valve. You can replace the valve with a new one. You can clean your valve with carb cleaner and refit it. Or you can blank or bypass the valve completely. I chose to bypass the valve on my van. This means the van only uses fresh air rather than air mixed with exhaust fumes, which has the benefit of increased performance, better fuel economy and faster turbo spool up. It also means that the engine isn't being clogged up with soot and other crap and I don't mind the engine taking a little longer to warm up on short journeys. As it happens it seems to have made no discernible difference in the time it takes the engine to warm up to operating temperature anyway.
If you have a Renault Trafic, a Vauxhall Vivaro or a Nissan Primastar, then this guide will work as all these vans are essentially the same van with a different badge and all use the same engine. There are several different types of engine available for these vans, this guide covers the 1.9 engine although I will add some pictures of the 2.0 engine later.
To find the EGR valve on the 1.9, first you need to remove the plastic engine cover that rests over the top of the engine (if yours is still attached that is), you then need to look on the top of the engine, to the right of the airfilter box. The valve has a plug going into it, which is the solenoid control wire. To remove the EGR valve, firstly undo the connector, use a screwdriver on the clip to loosen the catch and then slide it off.
Trafic / Vivaro / Primastar 1.9 EGR valve location
How to remove the EGR valve
You then need to undo the three bolts that hold the EGR valve in the manifold. I'd recommend removing the bolt on the right of the airfilter box before you touch the EGR valve. You can then lift the airbox out of the way which will allow you slightly easier access to the EGR valve with your ratchet.
You need a 10mm spanner or socket for both this bolt and the three bolts that hold in the valve. You can undo the top two bolts for the valve with a ratchet with a 10mm socket and an extension bar. I couldn't get access to the bottom bolt like this though and had to use a 10mm spanner as access is just too tight. Once you've got the bolts undone, then half of the EGR valve should easily lift off and out.
Undo these 10mm bolts
Once you've got the first half out, then a screwdriver can be used to gently pry the valve out. It took a couple of light taps with a hammer on mine to get the valve to move, but then it pulled out pretty easily. After it is out, then the first job is to marvel at how much soot and crap there is on there. You can then get your carb cleaner and a rag.
Spray the carb cleaner in the hole where you pulled the valve from and give it a good wipe with the rag. This is a bit awkward so you'll need thin hands. Ideally get your wife or girlfriend to get their dinky hands in there to really reach in and get it clean. If she's away, doesn't fancy getting her hands dirty or you have a fat wife with big hands then you'll need something thin to really get the rag right in there so this is when you need to get in the garage and find a good poking stick to push your rag in there.
After you've scrubbed that out, then give the EGR valve a good spray with carb cleaner. It is amazing how quickly it melts away the soot, but a screwdriver and a rag is still useful to get the caked on bits off.
At this point you can either refit the valve, throw it in the bin if it has shot it or blank it off by putting it back in the hole and turning it 180 degrees. If you do this, then the part at the bottom with the hole, which is the bit that opens and closes to let the exhaust fumes from the exhaust feed at the bottom of the valve into your air intake is now at the top. This means that it won't be able to let any more gases in and out.
If you do this, then you'll need to fit the part that fits into the manifold first, including the gasket, making sure you've turned it 180 degrees when in situ. I pushed it all the way in, then used a hammer to gently tap it round til it was in the right position. Then refit the solenoid part (the part on the right in the picture below) the original way up. All 3 bolts will then fasten back into their original places. This allows you to fit the wire connector and also means that the valve is still connected up the engine management system, which means that the engine still thinks it's working, even though when it opens the valve then no exhaust is allowed through. If you do this, it won't throw an error code.
Turn the EGR this way up on the 1.9 engine to blank it off
The photo below shows what the EGR valve looks like when it has been bolted back into place in the manifold. As you can see the outside part lines up correctly and all 3 bolts go back into their original locations, but the inner section and gasket still seals the EGR valve into the manifold, but the bolt holes no longer line up. The hole at the top is the hole for the bottom bolt, but is now exposed as the inner section has been rotated.
This isn't a problem, the EGR is still airtight and secure. It can take a bit of fiddling to make sure that the inner section is turned at 180 degrees, but you'll get there!
All 3 bolts in place with inner section rotated
After this you're done. If you've turned the valve to blank it off then you should find the van is perkier to drive, with a bit more power and a faster turbo spool up time. Apparently the fuel consumption is improved by around 5% as well. I haven't measured this to confirm it, but any potential increase in mpg is a bonus in my opinion. Plus you know the engine isn't being filled with exhaust fumes, soot and carbon which should lead to longer life and also gives you a nice warm feeling inside.
If you've decided to keep the EGR valve functioning, but have cleaned it all out so it works properly then you can be happy that you're doing your bit for the environment and your engine should now be performing smoothly again.
I have written another guide on how to change the MAF sensor. Once again this applies to Renault Trafic, Opel / Vauxhall Vivaro and Nissan Primastar vans. You'll find a link to it by scrolling down the page.
If you have any questions, or comments, please leave them below. Enjoy your van!