Cummins Engines are widely being used in a variety of heavy-duty vehicles like trucks and lorries. Cummins Engines are world-famous and are known for their efficiency and durability. This is a 12-valve engine that can produce excessive torque and power. With proper maintenance, trucks with Cummins engines can last longer than usual.
To keep track of exhaust gas emissions in Cummins Engines, EGR systems are being installed so that the engine runs efficiently without severe damage. An important component of the EGR system is the EGR cooler that functions as the brain of the EGR system. Cummins EGR coolers are available in a variety of variants. These coolers are highly durable and are known to improve the overall health of the vehicle.
Variants of Cummins Engine and The Role of EGR Systems:
The 5.9L Cummins engine variant was a widely incorporated engine type on most trucks. However, this engine variant is currently outdated and is no longer used. As a result, a new 6.7L variant was launched in the market. Truck dealers and manufacturers are widely choosing this engine type as it has additional advantages compared to the previous 5.9L Cummins engine variant.
Although the new variant is more efficient and reliable than the previous variant, an EGR system was included to manage the emissions efficiently. Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) is a technique to manage and control gaseous NOx emissions from diesel engines. An EGR system aims to decrease NOx emissions by soaking up the heat and decreasing oxygen concentration in the combustion chamber.
EGR Cooler is a part of the EGR system, and this component is used to decrease the temperature of the exhaust gases collected by the EGR system. The EGR systems recirculate the hot exhaust gases into the EGR cooler that tries to cool down the gases. There might be a situation where the EGR cooler fails to perform its job resulting in an EGR failure. EGR failures have been extremely common in previous engine variants like Power Stroke and Duramax.
Although modern Cummins engine variants should not face the problem of EGR failures, it is difficult to predict whether the failure would occur or not. If an EGR failure occurs, the engine faces serious damage, which decreases the entire vehicle’s lifespan. And when cooler damage occurs, a quick replacement is necessary for the proper functioning of the vehicle.
What happens when an EGR cooler fails?
A major indication of a failed EGR cooler is white smoke coming out of the exhaust. The smoke originates from the heated cooler. There are several reasons for the origination of white smoke. Some of the reasons are damaged EGR system, failure of the head gasket, or condensation in the exhaust system.
When an EGR cooler fails, there might be a coolant leak. In this case, the coolant system would require a frequent refill. Despite refilling the system, this problem may persist. The reason for this is that the coolant is leaking through the exhaust due to a failed EGR cooler.
Since the EGR cooler is damaged, the pressure of the exhaust gases increases and disturbs the coolant system because of a damaged EGR cooler. This is the reason why coolant leakage occurs.
Reasons for EGR Cooler Failure:
There are a variety of causes and reasons for a failing EGR cooler. Some EGR coolers are poorly designed, while some others fail due to overheating, resulting from overuse. EGR coolers are designed with thin passages that cannot hold all the exhaust gases coming in. This passage is exposed to continuous heating and cooling. The passage gets heated up when hot exhaust gases enter the cooler. It cools down when the EGR valve is shut, and the heat is absorbed. The metal of the cooler is also exposed similarly.
In addition to this, the EGR cooler also received heat and pressure from various other parts of the engine like the cycling turbo. As the turbo generates and pulls the exhaust gases, the walls of the EGR cooler are under great pressure.
Another major cause for a failing EGR cooler is a faulty water pump. Due to this, flow to the cooler is blocked, and excess heat is generated. If the vehicle is facing fuel-related issues, then this might disturb the EGR cooler as well.
A poorly designed EGR cooler with low-quality metal is the major cause of the failure. Such coolers are designed without proper knowledge about the purpose of the cooler. Therefore, it is important to choose the right EGR cooler that is perfectly suitable for the vehicle.
How to avoid EGR Cooler Failures:
As mentioned, EGR cooler failures are extremely uncertain. In some cases, finding out the reason for the failure is also difficult. EGR coolers are generally a little expensive. Although EGR cooler failures cannot be avoided permanently, it is important to maintain this component properly to fulfill its purpose for a longer time without any trouble.
Therefore, to try to avoid EGR Cooler failures, it is necessary to clean this component regularly. A clean EGR cooler would function better than a dirty one.
A simple technique can be used to clean the EGR cooler and get rid of the dirt. Firstly, carefully pull out the cooler from the engine. To clean the cooler, any washing powder or detergent can be used. Fill the cooler with sufficient cleaning powder. Leave the cooler to absorb all the dirt and dust particles with the help of the powder. After some time, wash the cooler properly and remove the remaining dust and excess powder. Leave the cooler for a while until the water gets dried up. Once it is dry, put it back in the vehicle.
The above technique is easy to carry out and would help to reduce EGR cooler failure to a great extent. The EGR system should be kept under good maintenance to avoid the trouble caused by a failure. However, cleaning is not recommended regularly because frequent uninstallation and reinstallation of the cooler might have severe consequences.