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456 power loss and oil thrown out - any guesses? Plus Ferrari specialists in Spain

Discussion in '456/550/575' started by Granada456, Feb 19, 2021.

  1. Granada456

    Granada456 Karting

    Dec 8, 2020
    61
    Granada
    Full Name:
    Julyan
    Can anyone hazard a guess as to what has happened with my 1994 456?

    I was returning home this afternoon, engine fully warmed up, on the motorway. I accelerated and changed up from 4th to 5th at about 100 kmh, when I heard something - not quite sure what- and I felt the engine lose power. The car continued to run, but with very little power, and didn't want to rev above about 2000 rpm. No warning lights appeared, and oil pressure and temperature and water temperature all remained normal. The car began to smoke very badly, so I pulled over and found that the smoke was coming from a large amount of oil spread over the left hand side of the engine (looking from the front) that had covered the exhaust and was burning off. I could not discern where the oil had come from and moreover the engine did not want to restart. So I had the car transported off the road.

    Now I could understand a power loss as a electronics issue, and I could understand an oil loss if some pipe has broken, but a power loss with an oil loss has me confused. The best idea I have right now is perhaps some oil pipe has broken and in covering part of the engine with oil has affected some electronic module. Does that seem possible or does anyone have a better idea?

    I've had this car about 2 1/2 months now, and I was thinking to take it for a service to a Ferrari specialist, because someone familiar with 456s will be able to spot issues that I don't, this being my first time with the car. It seems to me from the few hundred km I've put on the car that it's basically sound but has been little used in the past years. The failure today has me worried, but if it is a burst oil pipe that has in turn affected an electronic module, that is not too bad.

    Anyway, this issue has forced my hand and I think I'll have GT Stradale in Madrid look at it (www.gtstradale.com). They come recommended as very good Ferrari specialists; has anyone here used them? (Perhaps not, since I don't know of anyone else here in Spain.)
     
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  3. franschman

    franschman Karting

    Dec 18, 2017
    214
    Holland
    Full Name:
    Bart Boosman
    I think you must be lucky that your car didn't burn to the ground!

    Oil leak from the side of the engine, above the level of the exhausts, can realistically only be the valve covers. It may have blown a gasket. But the question is, why? It sounds like a serious mechanical engine problem. Belt snapped, valves bent/broken, conrod broken, or worse... Hopefully not, but worth a thorough investigation!
    The good news is that these engines are a joy to work on. But I guess your mood is slightly different at the moment. Time for a drink.
     
  4. Granada456

    Granada456 Karting

    Dec 8, 2020
    61
    Granada
    Full Name:
    Julyan
    Thanks for the reply, a drink has been drunk! The engine didn't stop when this issue occurred, it kept running, with no strange noises and only a loss of power. Is that possible with belt snapped, valves bent/broken, conrod broken, or worse? Not on engines I'm familiar with where those would stop the engine. [When I bought the car I was told the belts had been done (by mechanics at a private racing circuit, so no bill to prove that). I looked at them and they looked new.] I haven't checked them after the problem today.

    A bit more data: the oil was mostly towards the back of the engine, on and near to the coolant tank on the left. I should have taken a photo, but didn't. And no, no fire. I've had oil coat hot engines before, and I've never had it catch fire, have you? When I was a student, many years ago, I raced another chap down the Pennine hills in the UK in my Fiat 126 until crankcase pressure blew a great amount of oil out of the dipstick hole. I was doing about 85 mph, I think, which was rather faster than that car had any right to be doing... That was extremely impressive when viewed in my rear view mirror, as the oil vapourized off the hot exhaust, but there was no fire. Another time I had an oil pressure sender fail on a car and again plenty of oil landed on the exhaust, and there was plenty of smoke but no fire. So I've always thought that a fire isn't very likely with oil leaks. Perhaps I've simply been lucky? I always carry a fire extinguisher in my classics and have never had to use one yet - touch wood.
     
  5. Qavion

    Qavion F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Feb 20, 2015
    5,133
    Sydney
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    Ian Riddell
    There are a lot of things which would cause a bank to shut down. A Ferrari specialist might point you in the right direction if he/she has an SD1 tool. This will tell you what sensor/s were affected. I assume your car is too early to have an OBD2 port.
     
  6. Granada456

    Granada456 Karting

    Dec 8, 2020
    61
    Granada
    Full Name:
    Julyan
    Thanks. Yes, it doesn't seem to have an OBD2 port. I suppose they came later than 1994. I'm still confused about the mechanical issue that led to the oil blowout. I will report back when I have more information.
     
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  8. Salami

    Salami Karting

    Oct 31, 2020
    147
    Oregon
    Well it doesn’t sound good that’s certain, but I agree with you that it’s strange the two symptoms of oil loss and power loss without evil noises. I do not think oil can cause electrical problem, however maybe oil soaking one MAF could shut down one bank and cause a symptom you describe?

    yes you are lucky it didn’t poof into flames, I’ve seen it happen and my friends diesel truck just burned to the ground from a turbo oil hose that sprung a leak
     
  9. Granada456

    Granada456 Karting

    Dec 8, 2020
    61
    Granada
    Full Name:
    Julyan
    I decided on Friday that it was best to have the car sent directly to a Ferrari specialist in Madrid, for several reasons, including that my breakdown cover would do that but might not have covered me if I had had the car brought home first and had only later decided to get it sent. And the chap I have spoken to who runs GT Stradale seems very familiar with 456s. The downside of my decision is that I don't have the car to check what has happened. I will have to wait for later in the week when I'll get news. When I look at diagrams of the engine I don't see so many options for where oil could come from near to the coolant reservoir.
     
  10. Granada456

    Granada456 Karting

    Dec 8, 2020
    61
    Granada
    Full Name:
    Julyan
    By the way, about fire extinguishers, just a couple of weeks ago I bought two new fire extinguishers, one of which I put into the glove box of the Ferrari. I have been impressed by this new technology that uses chemistry rather than a compressed gas, which means that a fire extinguisher lasting 50 seconds weighs just a few hundred grams and fits into the glove box:
    http://www.fss-esp.com/index.html
    I don't have any link with this company except as a customer who hopes never to have to use one of their products.
     
  11. Salami

    Salami Karting

    Oct 31, 2020
    147
    Oregon
    Wow those are cool, haven’t known about that tech. I also put a big one in my trunk, but the trunk on 456 opens only with the electric switch which leaves me a little uneasy for obvious reasons. I might pick up one of these too.
     
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  13. Granada456

    Granada456 Karting

    Dec 8, 2020
    61
    Granada
    Full Name:
    Julyan
    Exactly. I've never had the occasion to use one, but having one in the glove box or door pocket means it's available straight away.
     
  14. ferraridriver

    ferraridriver F1 Rookie
    Rossa Subscribed

    Aug 8, 2002
    4,059
    Bay Area Calif.
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    Dave
    See this thread
    Element Fire Extinguisher | FerrariChat
     
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  15. Salami

    Salami Karting

    Oct 31, 2020
    147
    Oregon
  16. Qavion

    Qavion F1 Veteran
    Silver Subscribed

    Feb 20, 2015
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    Ian Riddell
  17. franschman

    franschman Karting

    Dec 18, 2017
    214
    Holland
    Full Name:
    Bart Boosman
    Back to the original topic; has the problem been diagnosed?
     
  18. Gated V12

    Gated V12 Rookie

    Jan 6, 2019
    45
    Full Name:
    Adam
    Wow, sorry to hear that happened! I'm also very interested in hearing what the shop's diagnosis as well. Spain is a left-hand drive setup (same as US cars) so I'd imagine the oil line setup is the same as well...I went out and checked my car for reference and couldn't' find any oil lines that are relatively close to the coolant expansion tank. I'd tend to agree with Franschman in thinking it could be a bank 1 blown head gasket (or valve cover gasket failure but that seems much less likely). The weird part is the oil pressure gauge was still showing normal pressure after an oil loss....I would think with a large oil leak you experienced, the oil pressure would be far lower than normal range.

    I agree, glad your car didn't catch fire! It doesn't take much for those headers to ignite whatever touches them, especially when they're at full operating temps. I seem to remember oil has a flash point above 300 degrees F but still, could've been much worse!

    Keep us updated! Hoping for the best.
     
  19. Granada456

    Granada456 Karting

    Dec 8, 2020
    61
    Granada
    Full Name:
    Julyan
    So, I finally have a diagnosis from GT Stradale in Madrid. It's a bit of an odd one that he said he hadn't seen before on a 456. Apparently the fuel pressure regulator broke. That allowed fuel to flow into the oil. The oil level rose and presumably the crankcase pressure too, until it blew off one of the tubes recirculating crankcase gases. That is what spewed oil over the engine. The engine stopped either because of the fuel pressure issue or because some of the electronics was coated with oil. I think I did the right thing giving the car to him to look at, because I would have had a hard time to figure that sequence of events out without an intimate knowledge of these cars. Anyway, the oil is contaminated with petrol and the first thing he is going to do is to check the compressions to make sure that the fuel wash hasn't damaged the cylinders.
     
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  20. franschman

    franschman Karting

    Dec 18, 2017
    214
    Holland
    Full Name:
    Bart Boosman
    Wow! I now think you are really lucky that your car didn't burn to the ground!
     
  21. Granada456

    Granada456 Karting

    Dec 8, 2020
    61
    Granada
    Full Name:
    Julyan
    Perhaps you are right. The flash point of the oil would have been reduced by the added petrol, and the cloud of smoke when the oil burnt off the exhaust was impressive. But it probably looked more impressive than it really was in terms of the volume of oil lost. Anyway, whether because it was not a great amount of oil or otherwise, it didn't ignite.
     
  22. tazandjan

    tazandjan Three Time F1 World Champ
    Lifetime Rossa Owner

    Jul 19, 2008
    33,480
    Clarksville, Tennessee
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    Terry H Phillips
    There is always a certain amount of gasoline in engine oil, but as soon as the oil comes up to temperature, it evaporates off. Not the case when you dump a bunch of it in there, though. Good catch by the tech.
     
  23. Granada456

    Granada456 Karting

    Dec 8, 2020
    61
    Granada
    Full Name:
    Julyan
    Yes indeed. Julio at GT Stradale certainly seems to know his stuff. I do a lot of the maintenance of my cars myself, but there are things that only someone who sees a lot of similar cars -a specialist- can spot quickly because of being able to make comparisons.
     
  24. Gated V12

    Gated V12 Rookie

    Jan 6, 2019
    45
    Full Name:
    Adam
    Crazy! That explains why the oil pressure didn't decrease even though the big oil leak occurred. I agree with Taz, that's a good catch by the tech!

    I'm the same way, Granada, I do a lot of maintenance on my cars as well but it's definitely worth it to have a professional take a look when things seem especially out of the ordinary. Hopefully the compression test comes back normal and all is well after an oil change and new fuel pressure reg (just checked and those little things are pricey!!).
     
  25. Robbe

    Robbe Formula Junior
    Silver Subscribed

    Aug 22, 2013
    568
    The Netherlands
    Good to hear your mechanic found the initial problem, but it puzzles me a bit.
    When the FPR breaks down, the diaphragm ruptures and fuel gets sucked into the engine by the vacuum line that is connected.
    The rich condition would cause a stumbling, surging engine which the O2's would notice and would try to compensate. Would probably work during a drive.

    Or the now disfuctioning FPR causes the fuel pressure to rise on that bank, and the injectors inject more , causing again a rich condition.
    But before the injectors inject that much fuel that does not ingnite, to raise the oil level to the point the pressure gets too high, I would assume would take quite some time of really terrible running.
    To me it sounds more like a broken/stuck oil pressure valve. So maybe you have two issues at the same time?
     
  26. Granada456

    Granada456 Karting

    Dec 8, 2020
    61
    Granada
    Full Name:
    Julyan
    What you are describing is more or less as it happened. The engine started to run very poorly, with little power. I was near my exit from the motorway, so I attempted to get to it. It would have been much safer, had I got to it, than stopping on the motorway, but I couldn't quite reach the exit because I had almost no power and the engine started to smoke after that vapour return hose blew off.
     
  27. Granada456

    Granada456 Karting

    Dec 8, 2020
    61
    Granada
    Full Name:
    Julyan
    I didn't explain fully in my first post my mental calculations on the Friday that this happened. The motorway was very busy with freight traffic -carrying fruit up to the Netherlands and the rest of northern Europe!- so after the power loss I was trying to work out the possibility that I could damage the engine by trying to get off the road, versus the probability of some dozy driver ploughing into me while I was stationary on the shoulder. I opted to try to get the car off the road, but the km leading to my exit is uphill and the car just wouldn't do it. The 456 is a wide car and the hard shoulder was narrow. It was very stressful waiting 3/4 of an hour for the breakdown lorry with huge lorries thundering past a few centimetres away. Anyway, I didn't get hit. Now I hope nothing untoward turns up with the compressions. We will be checking for other fuel system issues so if there is anything we should find it. And I'm going to get all the other bits and pieces I noted in the few hundred km I've driven looked at while the car is in the workshop.
     
  28. Robbe

    Robbe Formula Junior
    Silver Subscribed

    Aug 22, 2013
    568
    The Netherlands
    Thanks for explaining the circumstances of the situation, that indeed makes sense.
    As for the fuel system, it is a rather simple system, with per single engine bank a 4 bar pump in the tank, feeding the fuel rail on top of that bank, which distributes the fuel directly over 6 injectors.
    The Motronic directs and powers the inidividual injectors. The motronic calculates the opening time of the injectors based on the values it gets from several sensors, but mostly Mass Air Flow and O2 sensors.
    When all is repaired, you can even read those values with a simple OBD scanner connected to the cable next to each Motronic ECU in the respective footwells.
    (you will need a 3 pin to OBD2 pin converter cable, with seperate 12V and Earth lines to connect a loose battery or other 12V source. These cables can be found on Ebay for 15-20 euro).
    If the O2 values are normal, and the long term fuel trim returns back to between -7 and +7 after a test drive, I would not worry about the fuel system components on that bank anymore.
    (apart of course from the common deterioration of the rubber collar of the pump in the tank. But that leads to a lower pressure (and lean condition in the end) , not a higher pressure)
     

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