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Stop rough idle--clean your EGR valve.


Save $60-$135

idling and stalling problems can really add stress to your daily commute. The most common culprit is carbon buildup on the throttle body, exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) valve and idle air control (IAC) valve. In the Nov. '08 issue, we showed you how to clean a dirty throttle body. This time, we'll show you how to clean an EGR valve. This simple procedure can often bring an EGR valve back from the dead and restore a smooth idle. If the cleaning doesn't work, you'll have to replace the valve ($60 to $135 at an auto parts store or dealer).

Refer to a shop manual to find the location of your EGR valve. If it's fairly accessible, stop at an auto parts store and buy a new EGR gasket, a spray can of throttle body cleaner, and rust penetrant. Spray the EGR retaining bolts with rust penetrant and let them sit while you disconnect the electrical and vacuum lines from the valve (label the vacuum lines so you know which ports they came from). Then remove the retaining bolts and lift the EGR valve out of the engine compartment.


Place the valve on a bed of paper towels and tilt it so the cleaning solvent won't drain into the electric solenoid or vacuum motor, which operates the metering rod--the solvent can damage those components. Spray the port and metering rod until they're clean (wear eye protection and gloves). Once the parts are clean, check for smooth metering rod operation by forcing the rod in and out of the port with a screwdriver. It should slide smoothly and close completely in the port. If not, apply solvent to a cotton swab and clean the shaft and port.

Check the passage under the EGR valve to see if it's clogged with carbon. If it is, gently chip out the carbon with a small screwdriver and vacuum it out with a shop vacuum. Then reinstall the EGR valve using the new gasket.


Prevent license plate theft

When gas prices are high (and don't fool yourself-they will be again!), nasty people have been known to steal someone else's license plates, fill their own cars with gas, drive off without paying and let the gas station cameras capture the stolen license plate number. Install a set of security screws to stop the crooks before they get their sticky fingers on your plates. The screws are cheap ($4 a set), easy to install and available in a style to fit your vehicle. The kits come with a security wrench; keep it in a safe place so you can change plates when they expire.


Starting fluid controversy

In our Feb. '09 issue, we suggested spraying a one-second shot of starting fluid into the carburetor of your two-cycle engine if the engine won't fire up on its own. But we warned you to take your small engine to a shop if it didn't start after this procedure.

Some readers disagreed with that advice, protesting that starting fluid "washes the lubrication off the cylinder walls and causes permanent engine damage in less than two minutes." They recommended carburetor cleaner, WD-40 or a gas/oil mist instead. They're right in saying that carburetor cleaner and WD-40 provide more lubrication. But they miss two points: First, none of those other sprays are as volatile as starting fluid, so they're not as effective in producing "fire." Second, even though the other sprays provide some lubrication, it's not enough to prevent damage if you inject them repeatedly. Whichever spray you choose, you still only get one shot at it. You've been warned.

Service your "tuck-under" spare tire Lift now!

Most trucks, vans and SUVs stow the spare tire under the vehicle. It's a great space-saving idea, but one that doesn't always work well in the real world. The corrosive brew of road salt, mud and sand usually eats away at the tire lift's metal components, rendering the lift unusable when you need it most. Picture yourself with a flat tire at the side of the road--in a storm, of course.

You can prevent that nightmare by checking your spare tire lift right now, in the comfort of your garage. If you don't know how to lower the spare tire, consult your owner's manual. Check to make sure yon still have the factory cranking tools. Now is the time to get any replacement parts.

Start by raising your vehicle and supporting it with jack stands. Try lowering the spare tire. If it's stuck, shoot spray rust penetrant through the wheel openings to saturate the lift.


Then lightly tap on the T-bar with a hammer to set up vibrations and break up the rust. After several rounds of spraying and tapping, the lift should free up. Lower the tire and move it out of the way. If it still doesn't budge, insert a long screwdriver or pry bar into the wheel hub opening and force the release latch open. That may ruin the latch, but replacing it now is a heck of a lot better (and cheaper) than dealing with it on an emergency basis.

Coat all rusted parts with rust converter and allow them to dry. Then apply waterproof marine grease to all the working parts of the release latch. Yes, the grease will pick up road dirt, but it'll also repel water and keep the latch from binding in the future.

Finish the job by checking the air pressure in the spare tire and restowing it. Perform this quick maintenance exercise once a year and your spare tire will never let you down. For flat tire tips and hints, go to and search for "flat tire."
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Title Annotation:CAR & GARAGE; exhaust gas recirculation
Author:Muscoplat, Rick
Publication:The Family Handyman
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:May 1, 2009
Previous Article:Keep joint compound fresh.
Next Article:Don't change fluorescent bulbs until you have to.

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