How to Clean an EGR Cooler

Hydraulic EGR valve open

Hydraulic EGR valve open (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The EGR cooler is one of several problems encountered on diesel engines, especially the Ford 6.0 liter. Diesel engines, unlike gas engines, produce an enormous amount of soot through engine combustion.

EGR Cooler Function 

Diesel engines provide superior fuel economy and longevity when compared to gas engines, but do require more service. The EGR or exhaust gas recirculation valve and cooler direct a small amount of spent exhaust gas from the exhaust system back into the engine cylinders to reduce cylinder head temperatures.

High combustion temperatures cause oxides of nitrogen (NOX) to form and expel into the atmosphere. NOX are harmful to the environment and add to the greenhouse effect. The spent exhaust gas temperature is lower than the combustion temperature and therefore, when introduced into the cylinder at the time of combustion, lowers the combustion temperature and prevents the formation of NOX.

EGR Cooler Description 

The EGR cooler is a long cylinder on the passenger-side cylinder head. There is a metal pipe extending from the exhaust manifold to the cooler from which it picks up the exhaust gas. A computer operated EGR valve opens and closes to regulate the amount of exhaust gas entering the intake manifold.

The inside of the EGR cooler has a radiator core similar to the large engine coolant radiator in the front of the truck. Coolant passes through the oil cooler near the oil filter to cool the oil enters the EGR cooler and then returns to the radiator. Exhaust gas passes over and around the radiator core in the cooler that lowers the temperature of the exhaust gas. The exhaust gas temperature must be lower than the combustion temperature to be effective in reducing combustion temperatures. When the exhaust enters the cooler it is around 1500-degrees.

The designing of the cooler radiator element is the problem and remains unsolved satisfactorily. The holes in the core are to small and collect carbon from the exhaust, sand from the casting process in production of the engine and scale from the coolant. If that is not enough, it can not withstand 1500-degree heat continuously. They always fail-its just a matter of time.

Consequences of Cooler Failures 

A crack developing in the EGR cooler core is common. The exhaust gas pressure within the cooler averages as much as 50-PSI. Exhaust gas enters the coolant system through the crack and raises the temperature of the coolant and the oil. Radiators are designed to hold 12 too 17-PSI, so the extra pressure blows the coolant out of the radiator through the overflow tank.

This results in the engine overheating causing a head gasket failure, cracks in the valve seats and the overheated oil causes havoc with the bearings. The increased temperature of the coolant causes the coolant to transform to sludge and further blocks the cooler, and worse, the oil cooler preventing oil flow. It’s an absolute domino effect with catastrophic results.

If coolant from the cooler core enters the intake in sufficient quantity, it will enter the cylinders. Coolant is not compressible and will cause a bent rod or broken piston.

Cleaning the EGR Cooler 

There are kits at your local auto parts stores that contain three types of cleaners. They are designed to be sprayed into the intake manifold to rid it of coking, a radiator flush to clean the EGR cooler and a can of injector cleaner to be poured into the fuel tank. Accomplish this every 15,000 miles.

Given the inevitable, this may or may not extend the useful life of the cooler slightly. The best procedure is to purchase an after-market cooler that is bullet-proof. Instead of a heater core construction, it uses pipes with large openings on the inside of the cooler. They will not crack or block up. You can easily replace the cooler on your own with very little experience in two or three hours with common tools.


Read articles on the 6.0 liter engine and perform the proper preventative maintenance in a timely manner using the proper oil and filters. Replace the EGR cooler with the upgrade and use the cleaning kits regularly to remove the coke from the intake manifold and the engine will run trouble free much longer. All of the above EGR cooler failures are over $3000 to repair at the Dealer.

HPOP for Powerstroke

English: Line art drawing of a diesel engine.

English: Line art drawing of a diesel engine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

HPOP, or high pressure oil pump(s) , are extremely important for Ford Powerstroke engines. In order for Ford to increase the level of horsepower and work engine capacity in the standard diesel engine, they had to make certain modifications in design, which includes the oil pump. The combustion section of the engine is working overtime in these trucks, and the parts all have to be well lubricated and move freely without major friction overheating the engine.

That’s where the HPOP comes in. These pumps push more oil in where it’s needed and a little more often because of the nature of the workhorse engines. HPOP’s tend to wear out a little faster too, and have to be checked regularly to make sure they are not the cause of any fuel inefficiency in the truck. Malfunctions with the HPOP will result in the “check engine” light going on, an overheated engine from not enough oil getting to the camshaft, bearings, and sliding pistons, and a constant need for refills on gas, even though gas isn’t the source of the problem.

The HPOP works in overtime when the truck is hauling very heavy loads or pulling loads up a steep incline. This is when drivers tend to gun the engine for all its worth in an attempt to gain traction or forward momentum. The engine’s needs for oil and lubrication increase dramatically during these times, and if the HPOP isn’t working to its fullest capacity the driver can actually wreck the engine. If the problems with the HPOP are bad enough, e.g., leaks, decreased pressure, etc., then you can completely destroy the engine with a single heavy load up an incline.

If you have a Ford Powerstroke engine, save yourself a lot of grief and check the HPOP regularly.

Remove an EGR Cooler with Gasket Set

MTU-Motor 12V 1600 C

MTU-Motor 12V 1600 C (Photo credit: Tognum: MTU & MTU Onsite Energy)

The EGR cooler on a diesel can be a problem if not serviced on a regular basis. The EGR on your truck serves one purpose, to reduce the production on nitrous oxide that forms in an engine’s cylinders at high temperatures.

To accomplish this, the EGR scavenges a small amount of burnt exhaust gas and directs it back into the engine. This has the effect of lowering the temperatures in the cylinder, below the point that nitrous oxide forms.

Diesels produce a large amount of soot, unlike a gasoline engine. This soot has a tendency to build up on the EGR pintle, in the EGR cooler and the intake manifold. The result is reduced air flow and a EGR pintle that fails to close allowing a continuous flow of exhaust gas into the engine.

The exhaust gas redirected by the EGR is extremely hot and is ineffective in cooling the cylinder temperatures without being cooled. To correct this situation a EGR cooler is installed between the exhaust and intake manifold.

Engine coolant directed through passages in the cooler surround and cools the passing exhaust gas before it enters the intake manifold.

The exhaust gas passing through the cooler is at a much higher temperature and super-heats the small amount of coolant passing through. The coolant then passes from EGR cooler to the oil cooler where once again it is used to cool the oil in the same manner.

The high temperatures produced by the exhaust gas reacts on the engine coolant over time and causes it to gel. The gel plugs the passages in the cooler allowing less coolant to pass. The reduced flow of coolant is now subject to the high temperatures from the EGR flow resulting in higher than normal pressure in the coolant system.

The more the cooler becomes plugged the higher the pressure resulting in a rupture of the EGR cooler. A rupture allows engine coolant to enter the cooling system and the intake manifold as well. Engine coolant is not compressible and if not corrected will cause a blown head gasket, among other problems. This can get quite pricey if left unattended for any length of time.

Remove the intake manifold, EGR cooler and the EGR. Replace the EGR cooler and clean all the soot from the intake manifold and EGR before reinstalling them. The EGR cooler gasket kit makes it possible to replace all the studs, gaskets and seals necessary in this repair. Given the severity of a failed cooler, do not reuse any seals or gaskets once removed.

How To Install A 7.3 Diesel Injector


English: "Filling station" 7.3 road ...

English: “Filling station” 7.3 road sign. Русский: Дорожный знак 7.3 “Автозаправочная станция”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Are you looking to install a 7.3 diesel injector into a Powerstroke engine? The process may seem fraught with complications, but it’s actually quite a bit easier than you might expect. The installation will simply take a bit of patience. Follow the steps listed below and you’ll have your 7.3 diesel injector installed in no time!

Preliminary Caution

The first few steps in this process may seem obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people damage themselves or their vehicles by failing to use common sense! Before you begin installing your diesel injector, be sure that the vehicle is turned off and that the battery is disconnected. You will also need to remove the valve cover from the driver’s side, as well as the air filter assembly, the CCV assembly, the turbo intake hose and the valve cover gasket. Be sure to unplug the main wiring harness and the glow plugs before you proceed.

Removal With Tools

The process of removing parts is not quite complete at this point. You will need to get a good wrench and remove all the oil spouts from the injectors. Additionally, a socket will be required in order to remove the retaining bolts from the injectors.

Pry Bar Pressure

Next, obtain a small pry bar and use it to apply pressure to the injector collar. A fair amount of pressure may be needed in order to free the injector. Once you’ve accomplished this step, you should be able to hear oil pouring into the cylinder. Finally, before you begin to install the new diesel injectors, be sure that all the glow plugs have been removed. You may need to once again use a socket to complete this plug removal.

Install New Injector

Use engine oil — of the clear variety — to coat the new injector. A thorough coating is desirable for this step. Once the injector has been well coated, insert it into the appropriate hole. You may need to apply moderate pressure to the injector in order to ensure that it has been properly fitted. Some individuals prefer to accomplish this with the help of a small rubber mallet. Once you’ve determined that your injector is properly in place, bolt it down tightly. Following the bolting of the injector, all you need to do is replace the oil spouts and retighten the bolts!

EGR Coolers Info

Crankshaft (red), pistons (gray) in their cyli...

Crankshaft (red), pistons (gray) in their cylinders (blue), and flywheel (black) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Exhaust gas recirculation coolers are an important part of the emission control system on gas and diesel fueled engines. They are sometimes referred to as a heat exchanger. The primary job that the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (ERG) perform is to cool the exhaust prior to the gas’s recirculation. After combustion occurs in the cylinders, the remaining gas would normally exit the engine through the exhaust system, but on engines that employ ERG, the a percentage of the exhaust gas is fed back to the engine cylinders.

After combustion occurs in the cylinders, the remaining gas is primarily made up of Nitrogen oxide, which is referred to as NOx. Exhaust Gas Recirculation (ERG) is designed to feed a portion of the cylinders exhaust back into the combustion chamber. The ERG cool helps to reduce the volume of exhaust that is created by combustion engines. Nitrogen Oxide is created at high temperatures, so cooling the mixture before it is fed to the cylinders helps to reduce emission levels produced by the engine. Depending on the type of engine, 5-15% of the exhaust is returned to cylinders via the ERG system.

Without an ERG cooler, the exhaust gas would remain at a high temperature and combustion would cause an increase in Nitrogen Oxide. A faulty ERG valve has the potential to cause poor engine performance, increased fuel usage, and higher NOX emissions. Replacing the ERG valve and ensuring that the ERG cooler is working properly, will not only reduce NOx emissions it can also help the vehicle to remain in compliance with state emission standards.

OEM Fuel Injectors

English: 1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega engine

English: 1976 Chevrolet Cosworth Vega engine (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Vehicles newer than 1980, and in some cases, newer than 1990, use various methods of fuel injection to get fuel into the engine. Some vehicles even used fuel injection as early as 1974. Automakers using Bosch’s K-Jetronic fuel injection included the Lamborghini, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Audi and Volvo. The fuel injection system in comprised of many different parts, from the sensors and OEM fuel injectors to the electronic control unit. Fuel injected cars have better fuel mileage and start easier than carbureted vehicles.

Single Point Injection: Single point injection uses one OEM fuel injector to atomize the fuel as it enters the engine. The fuel injector is housed in a throttle body. Single point fuel injection has been around since the 1940s when it was used in aircraft engines. It was introduced to vehicles in the 1980s. GM called it throttle-body injection and Ford and Mazda called it central fuel injection.

Continuous Injection: Bosch’s K-Jetronic fuel injection was continuous fuel injection. Newer methods of fuel injection shoot fuel into the engine via short pulses, but continuous injection, which could be single point or multi-point, shot a continuous stream of fuel into the intake manifold.

Multi-point Fuel Injection: Multi-point fuel injection uses more than one OEM fuel injector. If the engine is a four-cylinder, it uses four, a six cylinder engine uses six and a V8 uses eight fuel injectors. The injectors are tied together via a fuel rail and wiring harness. These systems may be sequential or direct. Sequential fuel injection has OEM fuel injectors that shoot fuel into air before it hits the intake valve. Direct fuel injection uses OEM fuel injectors that inject fuel directly into the combustion chamber.

If a vehicle uses direct fuel injection, the fuel injectors are more expensive as they are exposed to more pressure and heat. The materials that make up a fuel injector for direct fuel injection must be of higher quality than an injector used for throttle-body injection or sequential fuel injection.

Diesel Fuel Injectors: All diesel engines use some form of fuel injection, unless it is an engine on a tractor. A diesel engine used to use indirect injection, where the fuel was injected into a sub-chamber and mixed with air before it was released into the chamber. Modern diesel engines use direct injection. The fuel injectors inject fuel directly into the combustion chamber. Direct injection is more thermally efficient than indirect fuel injection.

Fuel Injector Cleaning: You may be able to clean your vehicle’s fuel injectors, but that only works for a short while. In most cases, the life of an OEM fuel injector is from 80,000 to 100,000 miles. Once the needle seats, springs and plungers become worn out, the fuel injector must be replaced. It is advisable to replace all fuel injectors at the same time. Some injectors are easy to get to for replacement, but some are under the intake manifold. Getting to the injectors is the hard part. Replacing the actual fuel injector is the easy part.

What is Powerstroke?

English: Ford Motor Company Headquarters, Dear...

English: Ford Motor Company Headquarters, Dearborn, Mi. The Glasshouse; built in 1956, architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Power Stroke is the name that Ford Motor Company has given to its diesel engines since 1994.

Ford Power Stroke engines can be found in Ford Super Duty trucks, Econoline vans, Excursion SUVs, and LCF commercial vehicles.

In 1994 that the 7.3L Power Stroke diesel was first released. The Power Stroke is a direct injection engine that is electronically controlled. It has a 104 mm bore and 106 mm stroke that creates a displacement 444 cubic inches. Its compression ratio is 17.5:1 and weighs about 925 lbs. The 7.3L Power Stroke was used until the middle of 2003 when it had to be replaced by the 6.0L Power Stroke due to new emission requirements that the 7.3 could not meet.

Unfortunately, the 6.0 has been known to experience blown head gaskets and eventually cracked cylinder heads. Ultimately these problems were attributable to the fact that the 6.0 only had 4 head bolts per cylinder, but it was the “domino effect” that lead to such failures. A lot of the issues with the 6.0 started because Ford used sand cast molds. Many times left over sand would clog the oil cooler, which would take out the EGR cooler. When the EGR cooler ultimately went bad, it would pump the coolant thru the engine. When enough of this coolant got into the engine, it would pressure those head bolts allowing the head gaskets to blow. These Ford engines got a bad reputation because of these failures, many of which were due to improper service bulletins. Ford did not make it standard procedure to replace the oil cooler. There were repeated failures until Ford used new concepts in repairing the trucks.

It was in 2007 Ford that presented the 6.4 Power Stroke. This new edition was once again made necessary because of emission regulations. Ford was able to increase horsepower with the 6.4 Power Stroke, in spite of these new emission restrictions. The 6.4L has had a significant recall. It was due to the potential for actual flames to come from the tailpipe. A PCM recalibration is necessary to eliminate the problem caused by high temperatures that combine with other conditions to create what is known as the “thermal effect”.

Ford Power Stroke engines were manufactured by Navistar until 2010. In that year, Ford decided to make the engines at their Mexican production facility. These 6.7 liter Power Stroke engines are now primarily utilized in the Ford Motor Company’s full sized pick-up trucks in the United States.