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> Rough lumpy idle - Variator solenoid strikes again!, Throbbing idle caused by stuck variator oil channel pin
donutty
post 20th October 2021 18:46
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Hi all, long time since I was last here!

I have had a few goes at guessing my password and logged in to pass on a few nuggets of wisdom for a problem that had me flummoxed for ages!

Long story short - original 145 2.0 TS engine gave up the ghost on the M62 in the rain; judging from the clanks, rattles, bangs and huge cloud of white smoke I decided that it was fatal and just swapped the engine wholesale from a 916 Spider (AR16201). Much nicer engine anyway, no oil leaks and low mileage. It was from a scrapper (but guaranteed a runner) and then sat on a pallet for a couple of months.

The transplant was successful (and even passed MOT!) but with one annoying problem and one I have faced before: throbbing, lumpy idle.

This one was OK from cold, but after a couple of minutes the familiar wheezing started followed by an engine rocking to a beat. The car drove lovely but was embarrassing at traffic lights. I took to temporarily disconnecting the ICV to make it idle at higher revs.

MultiECUscan reported Lambda Integrator fault code, but the car had a new lambda just a year or so ago. It was getting a lambda signal and knew when I unplugged it.

Here are all the other things that I tried:

1. Spark plugs - OK
2. Coil packs - One faulty but since its TwinSpark that cylinder was still getting spark from opposite coil pack. Replaced anyhow.
3. Air intake - removed, cleaned with soap and hot water to reveal any splits. None found
4. New ICV. No change
5. Throttle body off and hot soapy water. No change
6. Variator solenoid removed and cleaned out. Plunger was a bit sticky but after cleaning made no difference
7. All usual ECU reset via battery disconnect plus 'throttle calibration' - no effect

... plus probably a few other things that I have forgotten.

Do you know what the problem was... ?

The variator oil charging plunger was stuck!

If you remove the solenoid there is a little well that fills with oil.
I got a syringe and removed this oil and having previously seen images / diagrams showing the solenoid acting on a sprung plunger which redirects oil into the variator, wondered where this plunger was... ?!

I poked in the general vicinity of where it should be with a small screwdriver and made contact with a solid feeling rod of metal. As I pushed a bit it gave slightly and after maybe twenty to thirty repeated presses it finally loosened enough to poke its head up from the hole enough for me to grab it with a pair of pliers.

This was very suspicious. Spring loaded eh? There was a spring attached to the other end and it looked fine but didn't have the strength to push up the pin.
After cleaning off (including a few little metallic slivers) I then sucked out what was in the pin well with the syringe, poured some fresh oil into the well and inserted the pin with its spring attached. It now sat proud of the hole and pressed down properly and returned.

I reassembled by screwing the solenoid back on and fired her up. Perfect idle! After months of frustration it was fixed!

So... the variator was stuck in 'power' mode but this did not suit the idle conditions.

I suggest to anybody who has an engine that otherwise runs normally but idles badly to just whip the variator solenoid off (on metal top Phase 1 engines it looks like you can't get to the 2nd torx bolt, but you can with a bit of care) and check that the oil pin pops up. Either way probably remove it and the contained oil and clean it anyway.


I am so relieved!!

This post has been edited by donutty: 20th October 2021 18:59
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sanitary
post 21st October 2021 12:27
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fixed my rough running by cleaning and de-crudding every fuse and relay connection I could find under the bonnet to within an inch of its life

THAT soted it laugh.gif laugh.gif


good to hear you have got to the bottom of your problem and can now enjoy yourself worshippy.gif




san
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dante giacosa
post 22nd October 2021 06:58
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crikey, you guys!

what a bloodbath- I can't believe how much hassle that was donutty; thanks for going into detail here, for the greater-good. Not one I've heard of before...
are you saying the oil-plunger is part of the ICV itself, and not a separate part on the inlet manifold..?

It's always worth cleaning those relays, San- I recently had a conk-out situation at my local specialist due to a bad fuel-pump relay; I need to fabricate a bottom to the 'black box' on the front the battery mount...
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donutty
post 24th October 2021 08:12
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QUOTE(dante giacosa @ 22nd October 2021 07:58) *
what a bloodbath- I can't believe how much hassle that was donutty; thanks for going into detail here, for the greater-good. Not one I've heard of before...
are you saying the oil-plunger is part of the ICV itself, and not a separate part on the inlet manifold..?


The spring-loaded oil plunger/pin with the little holes in it, part of the VVT (variator) system; not the ICV. Was stuck in the 'well' good till I persuaded it out!

Sorry, should have taken pictures but it is basically under the variator solenoid if you (at least on my Ph1 2.0 engine) remove the two screws that attach the solenoid to the engine block, near the cam cover. There will be a pin with a spring under it. If that spring isn't pushing the pin up, then the VVT cannot change cam timing by action of the solenoid, so that's a problem!

Definitely something to check if ever you have a difficult to diagnose idle situation.

This post has been edited by donutty: 24th October 2021 08:17
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alfa146er
post 24th October 2021 10:23
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QUOTE(donutty @ 24th October 2021 11:12) *
The spring-loaded oil plunger/pin with the little holes in it, part of the VVT (variator) system; not the ICV. Was stuck in the 'well' good till I persuaded it out!

Sorry, should have taken pictures but it is basically under the variator solenoid if you (at least on my Ph1 2.0 engine) remove the two screws that attach the solenoid to the engine block, near the cam cover. There will be a pin with a spring under it. If that spring isn't pushing the pin up, then the VVT cannot change cam timing by action of the solenoid, so that's a problem!

Definitely something to check if ever you have a difficult to diagnose idle situation.

Hi, I was having roughly the same problems as you so I decided to take a look today.

I removed the solenoid which seemed to be in good condition. After cleaning the "well" from oil I discovered the pin: it stood proud of its hole in the well and after pushing it, it sprung back to its original position. (PHOTO 1)

I also tested the variator solenoid by leaving it connected but unscrewed from its well so I could see if it activates. Surely enough after revving the engine a small pin came out which is supposed to press the larger pin inside the well, it did not retract afterwards (but that's normal I think, the spring loaded pin inside the well should push it back in its original position).
I tried to capture it on video, but the uncovered well filled up with oil pretty quickly after starting the engine and made a bit of a mess... (PHOTO 2)

Here are two photos:

Attached Image

Attached Image


This post has been edited by alfa146er: 24th October 2021 10:34
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donutty
post 24th October 2021 13:44
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QUOTE(alfa146er @ 24th October 2021 11:23) *
Hi, I was having roughly the same problems as you so I decided to take a look today.

...


Yes, that is what I have been describing above. Thanks for the photos. My pin was quite stuck down so immediately when I removed the solenoid I did not see the pin like in your photo #1. Only after many many pushes did it loosen up and stand proud.

Thankfully, cleaning, pouring in some fresh oil and exercising the pin got me back up and idling correctly.

Did you solve your issue alfa146er?

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alfa146er
post 24th October 2021 18:48
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QUOTE(donutty @ 24th October 2021 16:44) *
Yes, that is what I have been describing above. Thanks for the photos. My pin was quite stuck down so immediately when I removed the solenoid I did not see the pin like in your photo #1. Only after many many pushes did it loosen up and stand proud.

Thankfully, cleaning, pouring in some fresh oil and exercising the pin got me back up and idling correctly.

Did you solve your issue alfa146er?

No, my pin worked perfectly so that wasn't it.
I have 2 issues:
First is that the car idles erratically when coming to a stop or putting it in neutral after revving it high. It will surge up and down from 500 to 1500 rpm a couple of times before settling at its normal idle speed. I am 99% sure it's the Idle control unit. I opened it up and sprayed some contact cleaner on its potentiometer tracks, but it did not improve much.

My second issue is a sudden judder right before reaching 2000 RPM. It gets more evident when going up an incline in 3rd and giving it 3/4 throttle or more. Sometimes a "pop" sound is heard from the engine when it judders which is worrying. The car behaves perfectly above 2000 RPM however. I'm suspecting ignition coils or spark-plugs. It only happens when the engine is warm. So far I've:
Checked for errors with multiecuscan: none detected, apart from a lambda sensor error which i got rid off by changing the sensor.
Cleaned MAF and throttle body
Changed ignition leads (two were cracked)

Right now I am in the process of swaping ignition coils with a used one. I'll see if it makes a difference in the coming days. If it doesn't I'll have to bite the bullet and get new spark plugs..

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Typpi
post 26th October 2021 14:46
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QUOTE(alfa146er @ 24th October 2021 21:48) *
No, my pin worked perfectly so that wasn't it.
I have 2 issues:
First is that the car idles erratically when coming to a stop or putting it in neutral after revving it high. It will surge up and down from 500 to 1500 rpm a couple of times before settling at its normal idle speed. I am 99% sure it's the Idle control unit. I opened it up and sprayed some contact cleaner on its potentiometer tracks, but it did not improve much.

My second issue is a sudden judder right before reaching 2000 RPM. It gets more evident when going up an incline in 3rd and giving it 3/4 throttle or more. Sometimes a "pop" sound is heard from the engine when it judders which is worrying. The car behaves perfectly above 2000 RPM however. I'm suspecting ignition coils or spark-plugs. It only happens when the engine is warm. So far I've:
Checked for errors with multiecuscan: none detected, apart from a lambda sensor error which i got rid off by changing the sensor.
Cleaned MAF and throttle body
Changed ignition leads (two were cracked)

Right now I am in the process of swaping ignition coils with a used one. I'll see if it makes a difference in the coming days. If it doesn't I'll have to bite the bullet and get new spark plugs..


This sounds awfully familiar with the relay/fuse box in the engine bay. Some call it the BBoB. I recommend opening all the relays, duses and cleaning the contacts before doing anything else.
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alfa146er
post 26th October 2021 16:46
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QUOTE(Typpi @ 26th October 2021 17:46) *
This sounds awfully familiar with the relay/fuse box in the engine bay. Some call it the BBoB. I recommend opening all the relays, duses and cleaning the contacts before doing anything else.

Thanks for the tip, I've heard of this before. I ried removing some relays from there but they seemed too brittle and I was afraid of breaking them. Will definitely give it a closer look if the car starts acting up again.
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Ganz
post 6th November 2021 21:07
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Great find Donutty worshippy.gif Never heard of oil plunger/pin of the VVT causing idling problems. Will bear that in mind if I get I encounter any idling probs.


alfa146er, try cleaning out the ICV with some carb cleaner.

Attached Image

ICV


--------------------
G A N Z 145

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dante giacosa
post 6th November 2021 22:17
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Carb-cleaner seems to be the classic substance for this type of thing...



This post has been edited by dante giacosa: 6th November 2021 22:17
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alfa146er
post 7th November 2021 20:27
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QUOTE(Ganz @ 7th November 2021 00:07) *
Great find Donutty worshippy.gif Never heard of oil plunger/pin of the VVT causing idling problems. Will bear that in mind if I get I encounter any idling probs.
alfa146er, try cleaning out the ICV with some carb cleaner.

Attached Image

ICV

My late model has the infamous bosch electronic unit, which is a bit more complicated to clean (and also not made anymore by Bosch or any other company..). The car runs much better after replacing the ignition coil in cylinder # 4 by the way, no more judder at 2k RPM coolio.gif. As for the idling problem, I am going to swap the ICV unit with a spare one I have after I open it up and spray some contact cleaner when I have the time.
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alfa146er
post 28th November 2021 16:18
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I am pleased to report that after more than a year I have finally solved my rough idle issues cool.gif
It wasn't the variator solenoid, nor the Idle Control Unit... The cause of my problem was the oil breather valve located on the inlet, behind the throttle body:
Attached Image


The spring inside the unit had weakened over the years, causing issues with the engine's oil vapors. After replacing it, my RPMs aren't bouncing up and down whenever I come to a stop and put the car in neutral anymore. Also, I have noticed that my RPMs don't drop as fast when changing gears, so this may slightly improve fuel economy as well (fingers crossed).

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