Engine problem: Lack of power, stalling etc

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My Symptoms

For years, when starting from stone cold, the engine wanted to stall at the first junction or two.  No idea why, dealer had no idea either, and in fairness it wasn’t ever an issue and it never did stall.

After 5 years, 39,000 miles, the van started to stall and lose all power, but only 15 minutes into a journey from cold.  After it restarted it made a few bangs then in a puff of smoke cleared and was fine thereafter.  It did this for 3 days on the trot which caused me to find a solution.

In all other aspects, performance and economy, the van was fine.

My Van

2005 (55 Plate) Ford Transit 280 SWB FWD 125ps low roof, converted into a campervan

Likely fault

The guys at http://fordtransit.org/ forum suggested a faulty EGR valve.  A google also found http://www.fordscorpio.co.uk/egr.htm which is a good explanation as to how it works.  The FordTransit forum guys gave me the confidence to look into this and understand what is going on and why.  eBeers to them 🙂

How the EGR could be responsible for my problems (theory)

If the EGR never fully closes, then exhaust gas would always enter the combustion chamber.  From cold, perhaps this little gap gave enough burnt and dirty air from idle making the van want to stall.

Then after 15 mins, the engine is warm and possibly in cruse mode, then the valve should be open, and if this stayed stuck open then it would explain the lack of power after 15 mins or so at a junction and the stalls.  Perhaps restarting a few times, plus the heat of the engine freed up the valve and it continued functioning for the rest of the journey


This document is written by me, for me, and is based on MY experience on MY van.  I make no suggestion that this will work on every van, especially non-ford, and also vans with different engines.  Also this may not have anything to do with your issues.  This document is public to help give ideas as to POSSIBILITES only.  Take any comment in here as a completely made up and don’t follow it.  If you do its at your own risk!!!!

Possible fixes

Remove and clean the EGR valve, and also block off the vacuum pipe which would stop it working completely but keep it closed.  Blocking the pipe is only worth while if the valve is completely closed and sealed.

The EGR on the TDCi 2 litre 125ps Mk6 transit is vacuum operated only and there are no electronics at all.  Later units have electronic sensors in so blocking the vacuum pipe may cause an ECU (DCT) error to be flagged and possibly the “MIL” light to come on the dashboard.

So I decided to remove and take a look….

How to remove EGR valve


1 – Rotate the oil filler cap, so the plastic thingie doesn’t overhand the plastic air reservoir.  On mine there is was a plastic clip to rotate on the oil filler tube to free it up.  Just rotate 90’

2 – Remove 2 nuts from the rear of the plastic air reservoir.  These are 13mm. Don’t drop them down the back!

3 – Remove air hose (loosen clip) from the air tube to the air filter to the plastic air reservoir  (screwdriver under the catch and twist did it for me)

4 – Remove air hose (loosen clip) from the air tube to the turbo pipe.

5 – Remove the plastic air reservoir.  Remove the pipes that are clipped to the rear of the plastic air reservoir – should push out but be careful.  This sort of rotates towards the front and there are 2 plastic “balls” around a rubber seal, so just pops off.

6 – Remove engine cover (if you have one!  I don’t)

7 – Rotate the oil filler pipe back straight to it doesn’t fall off

8 – Follow the turbo pipe and there are 2 outlets to the pipe – one narrow and one fat, held on with Jubilee clips.  Undo these (8mm socket) and remove the turbo pipe


9 – Disconnect the vacuum pipe from the EGR valve

10 – Remove the valve tube connected to the EGR valve.  This is the big heat-shielded tube entering from the side.  These are 8mm I think.  When removed make sure you catch the gasket between the pipe and the EGR.

11 – Remove the EGR valve.  There are 2 hard-to-get-at 10mm nuts underneath.  A real bitch.  I had to use a ratchet spanner and after losing some skin and blood I got it off.  Again, careful to catch the nuts and catch the gasket.  This should just lift off.


  • Suck on the vacuum tube.  Can you generate a vacuum?  If not its knackered – maybe diaphram.
  • Does sucking cause the piston to move?  If not – can you push the base of the piston and does it move?  If not its stuck.
  • If you blow into the side hole where the exhaust is, does air blow out of the other big hole.  If so, its not shutting properly, it should be sealed.

When its likely to be working okay then:-

  • Blowing in the exhaust inlet won’t have escaping aire.
  • Sucking on the vacuum tube generates a vacuum and the piston moves opening up the connection between the 2 big holes.

My Problems

On mine, the vacuum held but no piston movement.  And the exhaust to engine inlet wasn’t sealing.  This seemed to match the theory for my symptoms.

The fix

Pre cleaning – gunked up

I cleaned mine with petrol and a bit of WD40 and an old paintbush.  Got all the black carbon off and with a lot of sucking and pushing the piston I got good movement (though needed to push the piston) and got it sealing well when closed.  This is how it should be….

However, now thats sealed, I’ve blocked the vacuum pipe and not reconnected it.  This is leaving the EGR closed so the engine only runs on clean air.  OK – some NOx may be produced and the earth will end a few milliseconds earlier than it otherwise would, but at least my engine is running.  I’m sure the resources, energy, and emissions required to make a brand-new EGR are far higher than a few NOx chemicals being released.

I’ve blocked it by putting in a plastic bung and cable tied it up and also cable tied the tube securely.

I’ve taped up the vacuum inlet to prevent debris getting in.

If required, its a 30 second fix to remove the bung and connect it back up.

“On the Internet” people say you can replace the gaskets with a solid metal plate to stop any exhaust gas getting in.  I did not do this.


Refitting is exactly a reverse of taking apart.  Ford recommend replacing the metal gaskets.

Did it work?

Well – not conclusive – but…. so far….

Much better behaviour when stone cold than previously.

No stalling or attempt at any time.

Van purrs and, may be placebo affect, feels great…..

Oh – and it passed MOT today and passed the emissions test with flying colours – with NO turbo smoke out the back!  The actual figures were better than last year….

7 thoughts on “Engine problem: Lack of power, stalling etc”

  1. Hi Ryan,
    Glad you fixed the prob. My Innovation was already starting to suffer EGR issues just before we changed van (can’t remember the mileage must’ve been circa 15K or so). Had to call out the RAC to a site near Salisbury because she ran rough and lost power just after reversing off the height blocks and chucked out oodles of black smoke. The RAC guy just gave the EGR a swift clunk with a heavy metal object and all was fine, until it happened again a few weeks later at home. But then I knew what to do.

    Still miss the Innovation and often wish we’d still got her.


  2. I disabled the EGR on my 1994 Duetto Camper van, based on the Ford Transit 2.5 Di (Non-Turbo). It doesn’t have an ECU to electronically control the EGR, it is purely mechanical. I took a different approach, and removed the throttle linkage rod leading to the air valve, and fixed the air valve in the fully open position using a Jubilee clip. This prevents a vacuum being created and thus prevents the EGR valve from opening. This method has the advantage of permanently removing the air flow restriction, allowing more fresh air into the engine. Also, the throttle is lighter, because it doesn’t have the mechanical linkage to the air valve.
    This solution works because I don’t now get a plume of black smoke from the exhaust. I am hoping it will improve the fuel consumption from the 28 mpg I was getting, but I haven’t got a measure for this yet.

    1. Great! Hope this page gave a tip. The tranny doesn’t have the same mechanical linkage but hopefully any Duetto owners will see your post and be okay. We’ve not had any MPG increase 🙁 Maybe even a SLIGHT (0.5mpg) decrease? Maybe because the ECU puts more fuel in on run-off/idle as the air is purer and the O2 sensor says so? Just a guess. But no smoke and no problem, and no gunk in engine. Hope yours is okay after!

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