EGR valve stuck open symptoms and solutions

Exhaust Gas Recirculation, also known as EGR, is one of the best methods used to control nitrogen oxide emissions from modern combustion engines.

The main component of the EGR is the valve that is normally closed. The EGR valve connects the exhaust manifold with the intake manifold, and it is controlled by an in-built electric step motor or a vacuum.

The valve’s main purpose is to control exhaust gas flow circulated depending on the engine’s load. One of the most known problems with the EGR valve is when the carbon accumulates, making it stick.

The main symptom of a stuck open EGR valve is rough and unstable idle. When the EGR valve is stuck open, the combustion temperatures increase, resulting in surging and detonating light acceleration.

Symptoms of a stuck open EGR valve

1. The Idle of engine becomes rough.

When the valve is open and has continuous exhaust of gas flow towards the intake manifold, it can cause rough idle during a brief stop or when starting a vehicle.

2. Your car has poor performance

Poor performance can be caused when the valve is open or closed. The incorrect function of the EGR valve can cause the erratic performance of your vehicle.

3. Increased fuel consumption

Because the valve is constantly open, there is an increase in fuel consumption. The concept behind high fuel consumption for an open valve is that there is a lower temperature in open valves; hence the fuel does not burn to its optimal temperatures.

4. The car stalls when idling frequently

Stalling while the engine is idling normally occurs when the EGR valve is open and allows the exhaust gas to constantly pass into the EGR system.

5. Smell of exhaust gases inside the car

Car owners will usually feel the smell of exhaust gases any time there is a continuous flow of the gas. This means a significant increase in the fuel smell that is produced.

6. Check Engine Light Remains On

Anytime your engine detects an issue with your EGR valve, the car’s computer turns on the check engine light and stores an error. If the error code refers to the EGR valve, you need more details using a scanner. However, it is prudent to act before the EGR valve fails.

7. More emissions

The car will emit increased emissions if the EGR valve is not working as required. As previously mentioned, the valve gets stuck any time its temperature declines, preventing the fuel’s complete burning.

What are the possible causes of stuck-open EGR valve?

Currently, many modern cars are using the EGR system. The exhaust gas recirculation’s main purpose is to eliminate toxic substances.

EGR enhances better fuel efficiency and cleaner emission. With time, the EGR valve may develop some issues, such as being stuck open or closed. Below are some possible causes of the stuck in the opened or closed EGR valve.

1. Air Filter With Dirt

For a perfectly balanced engine, the fuel and air mix precisely, leading to complete burning. As such, it is essential to ensure that the EGR valve is working.

Having air filters with a lot of dirt is one of the possible causes of the stuck open EGR valve. By replacing your air filter, you will restore your normal fuel-air ratio and solve the problem associated with a stuck open EGR valve.

2. Damaged EGR Gasket

Another common problem resulting in a stuck open or closed EGR valve is using a damaged EGR gasket. Avoid using a damaged gasket at all costs since it allows exhaust to leak into your engine. To solve this problem, you will be required to replace your damaged gasket with a new one.

3. Using a Faulty Temperature Sensor

As we have seen from the above, the main work of the EGR system is to reduce the level of nitrogen oxide. Mainly, the EGR valve is supposed to regulate and balance the pressure and temperature inside your engine cylinder.

The EGR valve is supposed to open up at specified intervals for the best results. A temperature sensor is used to detect when the valve should be open and when it should be shut.

Using a faulty temperature sensor can cause the EGR valve to get stuck open. To solve this problem, you should ensure that you replace any faulty sensors.

4. Clogged EGR Pipes

The EGR pipe is used to route the exhaust into the engine. The exhaust channeled through this pipe has a lot of contamination, including soot. After some time, these substances accumulate in the EGR pipes, making them clogged.

Clogged pipes can indirectly make the EGR valves stuck while open, increasing fuel consumption. The solution to clogged EGR valves is detaching them and spraying them inside using a cleaner.

5. Sticky EGR valve

Over time the EGR accumulates substances. Some of the substances that accumulate on the EGR pipe become sticky over time, making it difficult for the EGR valve to open properly.

The valve can also become stuck while in an open position or closed. Cleaning the EGR pipes can solve most of these problems.

How to fix an EGR valve that is stuck open?

Fortunately, repairing a stuck open EGR valve is very easy. You have to figure out the cause of the problem and then choose the right solution for it. Below are different tips to try:

  • In case of a dirty air filter, you will just have to replace it. The average cost, including labor, is not expensive, depending on your car.
  • For the damaged gasket, you can only replace them with new ones. The average cost, including labor, is $500
  • For faulty temperature sensors, you will also have to replace them. The average cost, including labor, is $300
  • For clogged EGR pipes, you have to detach them and spray them inside using a carburetor cleaner. The average cost of labor is $50
  • For the sticky EGR valves, you can clean the pipes to solve the problems. The average cost, including labor, is $50 to $100

Can you drive a car with an EGR valve that is stuck open?

An EGR valve that is open mostly causes no start, stalling at idle, engine misfire, and popping sound. Technically, it is possible to drive a car with an EGR valve, although it is not advisable because your vehicle will consume more fuel, shake idle, and run rough.

Should you repair the EGR or replace it?

The average life of a car’s EGR valve is about 10 years. Ensure that you maintain the EGR valve properly for you to enjoy its greater lifespan. Some EGR valves are repairable depending on the level of damage, while others are entirely unrepairable.


In a nutshell, the Exhaust Gas Recirculation operates by channeling back a small portion of the exhaust gas back into the combustion chamber through the intake manifold hence lowering the combustion temperature as it reduces the amount of Nitrogen Oxide that is emitted.

As a result, air regulation is carried out using the EGR valve. Several issues cause the EGR valve to get stuck. It is essential to ensure that the EGR valve works correctly by applying the points discussed above to fix stuck open EGR valves.

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