Introduction: Swirl Flap Repair and EGR Blanking on Astra H 1.9 CDTI
I think the first thing to state is this is not claimed to be a permanent repair-no one currently doing this mod knows how long it will last so it has to be viewed as a temp repair,that aside there are people who reckon it has lasted quite few thousand miles so far-my own view is that im intending to change the car next year and dont have the money to spare for a full scale replacement of the inlet manifold.
On the vauxhall astra H range one of the problems is the ERG valve gums up with exhaust fumes and needs to be periodically removed and cleaned,ive done this a number of times and its a fairly straightforward job covered many times on the internet.Unfortunately when it sticks open it can allow these fumes to start coating the swirl flaps inside the inlet manifold and the first many people know about it is,either the engine managment light(EML) comes on or while doing routine maintenance they see the external swirl flap bar that connects these flaps together has fell off.(its on top of the engine under the injection pipes)
My story is that the EML came on and I discovered that one of the 'cups' had popped off,i popped it back on but the EML didn't go off,so i called out the breakdown who reset the light and all was well-for a few weeks, till the wife told me the car seemed sluggish(no EML).A check reveals the bar had come off completely, when this happens I believe it depends on were the flaps are situated (either open or closed)when it comes off.All four flaps turn together,the flap 3rd from left is the operating flap having a motor underneath the manifold,it moves the bar and the others move with it.In effect the flaps have a ball sticking up and the bar has the socket pointing down,the bar operates on a slight angle so when the cups become worn it falls off-a tip which might help before you do this mod is that when my bar fell off i fetched it out with a pair of long nosed pliers but i didn't realize that due to its shape it should be marked as it 'should' only fit on one way,looking at the cups they were all worn on one side so I decided to try fitting it the other way round and lo and behold it fitted and a few weeks later was still in place-by this time i had l already ordered the kit to replace the plastic cups so have gone ahead anyway.
How you proceed depends on a couple of things,basically the problem wont go away and refitting the bar only works very briefly, due to the plastic cups being worn-and of course the bar isn't available separately,so you have to buy the complete inlet manifold at £150 off ebay - more from a main dealer, Vauxhall recommend you also change the actuator motor(attached underneath to flap 3 at £100+)and its a 3 hour plus job to change,it appears people have paid from £500-£1000 to have this job done.
Before you decide to go ahead with this mod you need to remove the bar and check that your swirl flaps aren't jammed internally,you do this by turning the ball of each one (except number 3 from left) between 9 o'clock and 12 o'clock or so,the thing should turn very easily-this tells you the swirl flap isn't jammed by carbon/tar/soot inside-i have to say that some people have simply left the bar off and reckon the car will run quite normally -it depends on where the flaps are situated and if the 'bearing' it turns in is worn,this can allow air to be sucked in and might upset various sensors,if you have a large build up of tar round the ball area it may well be leaking-mine had some but i decided to risk it.
If you decide to go ahead you need the cup replacements these are available from a company in germany at £40 delivered or off ebay uk at £50+p&p,once you have the kit you can proceed,it took me about 2 hours but i'm quite careful, took my time and was photographing so you'll probably do it in a lot less.
Step 1: Removing the Swirl Bar
The first step is to remove the engine cover which simply pulls off,the next step is to get better access by popping off the glow plug leads,I found the easiest way was to lever them off with a large screwdriver placed under the 'bulge' on the plug=don't pull on the lead itself,lever under the bulge and the plug should pop off.
you next need to extract the bar,i used a long nosed pair of pliers to do this but i found it easier to put back on also using a long thin hook i made from a welding rod,anyway pull the rod out(to the left obviously) and mark the left side-you will notice the bar is a series of humps with 4 cups placed equal distances,however it has a different shaped hump at one end,this goes under a overhang on the engine,it didn't seem to matter when i turned the bar round with the plastic cups on but the brass cups are bigger and it didn't seem to want to play ball with these fitted so I put it back the 'right' way round.
Once off you will see the wear in the plastic cups,the kit is supplied with 5 brass cups(it fits four or five cylinder engines)- 4 have studs and one has a screw but it doesn't tell you which to use on which engine.
Now comes the point of no return you need to remove the old plastic cups !!
Step 2: Removing the Old Cups and Fitting the New Cups
The plastic cups are brittle so I used a pair of side cutters to nip bits off them,as i afterwards found bits about 12 feet across the kitchen it makes sense to use eye protection when doing this ! Eventually the cup should come off but you might find in the hole it sits over has some in it so you need to poke out the last bit and when the last one is done you should have a nude bar-make sure you remember which way the cups faced ;0) The brass cups have a stud in which is a tight fit so I took their advice and drilled out the holes in the bar to 3mm,the studs fitted through a lot easier then,the end of the brass cup with the stud in has a flat with small edges in it presumably to stop the cups swivelling so I lined the bar and the flat up and the 2 edges sit either side of the bar to keep it in place.
I decided to try the 4 cups with the studs fitted rather than the one with the counter sunk screw fitted,this I did and amnaged to get the bar to fit although it is fiddly to get it to fit but once done it was fine.
Step 3: Refitting the Swirl Bar
once the swirl bar is complete,i decided to clean up round the plastic 'bearings' I used brake cleaner spray and being me i gave all the four several good sprays and cleaned up with cotton buds, unfortunately while this got rid of the tar i didn't realize it was seeping down past the bearings into the inlet manifold and caused a few things to happen,it made the bearings tight and i had to use some lubrication to free them and when i started the engine there was a small bang and a cloud of white smoke . So perhaps a bit less might be better !
Anyway i then put the swirl bar back but i did struggle and eventually used both long nosed pliers and a piece of welding rod with a hook at the end,eventually after a few tries i got the bar into place and pushing down on the brass cups they pop into place onto the plastic balls,once fitted you pop the glow plug leads back on and refit the engine cover.
That completes the fitting of the kit and I had also decided to fit a blanking plate to stop fumes going into the EGR valve and will cover that next
Step 4: EGR Blank
As I said earlier the main reason for this problem is carbon from the exhaust passing through the EGR valve and jamming it open,the excepted maintenance is to remove it every 5000 miles or so and clean it out,which i did the previous week before attempting this,the long term answer is to blank it off completely but you can only generally do that with a remap as the engine will sense the lack of airflow and fault accordingly,you can however partially blank it which hopefully cuts down the carbon and that is what i decided to do.The blanks are available off ebay at about £4 delivered and you can blank either side of the EGR,one is square the other oval,i decided to blank the oval where the pipe from the exhaust attaches.
My plan was to attach the blank as well as the metal gasket that already fits there but for some reason i had difficulty putting them both on and decided to leave the gasket off
The job is very easy and quick to do.Take off the engine cover and the EGR valve sits at the back of the engine,the back right hand engine cover rubber buffer sits on the bracket attached to it.
The oval pipe attaches underneath the EGR valve and is held up by 2 x 13mm headed pins,I would recommend stuffing a large old towel down below the valve to catch anything you may drop,then undue the pins and the metal gasket will drop clear,put the blanking plate in is place and reattach the pipe to the 2 pins and tighten up-obviously if you want to leave the gasket out -it hasn't seemed to caused me any problems.
Remove the towel,refit the engine cover and test
Step 5: Conclusion
I have now run the car for well over a 1000 miles with no problems so far,the swirl bar is still attached- Im not going to claim anything specials happened,like a boost in performance or fuel savings- I simply wanted reliability and peace of mind for a while.A few people have poo pooed these repairs and theyre entitled to their opinion I will just see how it goes.