Primer on EGR cooler failure | Solar eclipse traffic, NYC I-278 shutdown expected over weekend

Trucking news and briefs for October 13, 2023:: 

How to recognize signs of EGR cooler failure

Overdrive sister publication Trucks, Parts, Service this week published a primer for its truck service-industry readers on ways to spot various issues associated with EGR coolers. While the components are intended to last the life of the truck, depending on duty cycle and maintenance habits owner-operators have found themselves facing failing parts. While the original story is geared to service pros, there's plenty to glean from it for various potential diagnoses. The story, excerpted here can be read in full via the TPS website.   

EGR coolers are essentially heat exchangers -- EGR stands for "exhaust gas recirculation." They take hot exhaust gas and pass it over engine coolant, reducing nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions. EGR is “relatively new to diesel engine technology,” said Len Copeland, product marketing manager for Detroit Diesel, which added EGR coolers to its engines in 2002.

The EGR cooler is located between the turbo and the EGR valve on the engine, AMBAC International said. The EGR valve connects the engine’s intake valve to the exhaust valve. The EGR system uses a hollow tube or series of tubes to recirculate the gas back into the engine. The coolant passes through a series of tubes next to the EGR valve, creating an inert, cool exhaust gas and reducing the temperature of the combustion chamber.

The cooler's controlled by a vehicle computer through the EGR valve. The system dispenses coolant based on the temperature of the combustion chamber. Excess heat is transferred to the vehicle’s cooling system and dissipated using the radiator.

Detroit Diesel’s latest EGR cooler includes design improvements designed to make it easier to replace and maintain, Copeland said, including a specific diagnostic code in DetroitConnect, which can be a sign of needed attention. The input and output coolant tubes are integrated into the block of the engine, reducing failure points and making the part smaller and lighter. The part has also been standardized across all Detroit engines.

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“It makes it less prone to parts shortages,” Copeland said. “It’s easier to stock for parts counters as well.”

If an engine manufacturer doesn’t have a diagnostic code for its EGR cooler, signs of a failing part are white exhaust steam or smoke coming from the stacks.

“This usually means the cooler is either cracked or leaking due to gasket failure,” Robert Isherwood, CEO of AMBAC International said. “If the coolant seeps out of the valve it will mix with the exhaust and start to boil as it moves through the engine, which causes the gas. It could also mean there’s condensation on the cooler, which can lead to steam.”

[Related: Deleting emissions problems without deleting the system]

Jay Daran, marketing manager at Roadwarrior (maker of an aftermarket EGR cooler under the Evercool brand), noted high exhaust temperatures are another sign the EGR cooler could be having problems. That will trigger the check-engine warning light or in severe cases derate the engine and put the truck into limp mode.

“High temperatures could start with a clogged DPF, which would also mean the EGR cooler has a clog and it would pretty much cook the EGR cooler,” Daran said.

Isherwood said a failing EGR cooler is one repair, but running on a damaged or broken cooler can lead to thousands of dollars in more work that might need to be done down the line, a common reality for all manner of emissions-system components in modern day diesels.

Access TPS' full report via this link. 

[Related: How to interpret your diesel engine's warning-lamp language to head off big problems

Solar eclipse could tie up traffic on Saturday

A solar eclipse Saturday could cause heavy traffic and travel delays on highways in several western and southwestern states. Plan accordingly.

That was the message in particular from the state of Utah's Department of Transportation, with a post to its Facebook page noting it expected "more than 300,000 visitors for the eclipse." Heaviest traffic is expected in the Richfield and Medicine Hat areas, and UDOT warns of potential travel delays on I-15, I-70, US 89, and US 191.

"We encourage eclipse watchers to stay an extra day if possible to avoid what our traffic engineers expect to be several hours of delays directly after the eclipse," said UDOT on Facebook. 

The agency also warned those viewing the eclipse not to park on the shoulder of roads to do their viewing. "Plan ahead to be in a safe place to watch."

UDOT goes so far as to warn visitors and others to "be prepared with supplies like food, water and gas. Local supplies may be limited before and after the event."

The eclipse is expected to attract thousands of viewers to locations along its 90-mile-wide path of maximum obstruction from the Pacific coast of Oregon to Texas' Gulf coast. In a special online presentation on the eclipse, NASA shows the path of it and lists significant times for cities along its path.

For example, NASA says the sun will be partially eclipsed in Eugene, Oregon at 8:06 a.m. PDT and progress to maximum obstruction occurring at 9:18 a.m. PDT. Not all of the U.S. will see the maximum effects of the eclipse. Sections of the Great Plains and the South will see about 50% of the sun obscured; the Midwest and Southeast about 40%; the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, about 20%; and New England just 10%.

Big Brooklyn-Queens Expressway (I-278) closure in NYC this weekend

Bqe Closure

As shown in the notice above, part of I-278 in New York City will be closed this weekend.

A section of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway will be close starting at 2 a.m. Saturday, and reopen at 4 a.m. Monday.

The closure is necessary for repairs, said the New York City DOT. Repairs are part of a bigger project for the highway, whose details are available via this link.

NYCDOT noted:

  • The Queens-bound BQE will be fully closed from Atlantic Avenue to Sands Street
  • The Staten Island-bound side will be partially closed with only one lane available; the Vine Street/Old Fulton Street ramp will be closed

A truck detour is available: Linden Boulevard Detour: Gowanus Expressway to Prospect Expressway/McDonald Avenue to Caton Avenue to Linden Boulevard.