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Jerky acceleration on California?

Discussion in 'California/Portofino' started by Krog, Jul 4, 2019.

  1. Krog

    Krog Rookie

    Apr 3, 2013
    26
    Sweden
    Full Name:
    Krog
    Hi all - I recently bought a 2010 California. During the last 3.000 km's I find the acceleration to be more and more jerky. There is no problem with hard acceleration, but smooth acceleration around 2-3.000 RPM (especially in auto - and even more with cold engine) results in jerky acceleration where it seems like the car has sporadic fuel flow or ignition. When the car is warm, the problem is still there, but not as obvious. When cruising in 7th gear at appx. 2.500 RPM, I can feel a slight "jerkiness"/hesitation/shivering from the engine. Basically it is not really a 100% smooth ride.

    The car was serviced about a week ago at Ferrari who tried to replace the spark plugs without any noticeable effect although the old spark plugs were quite black/dirty. The ignition coils were tested together with the fuel rail and everything checked out OK.

    Any suggestions? I tried to search the web and this forum but didn't come up with anything.
     
  2. Fireman1291

    Fireman1291 Formula Junior
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    Oct 30, 2017
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    Don't use auto, ever.

    For smoother shifts use comfort mode and don't rev above 4K until the oil is warmed up. Also, don't start the car until the pre-check counts up after you turn the key and then don't drive away until you let the check light and "check ok" cycle. Doing the above should provide with a better experience.
     
    Chizz likes this.
  3. Krog

    Krog Rookie

    Apr 3, 2013
    26
    Sweden
    Full Name:
    Krog
    Appreciate your response, but it doesn't help a lot. :) The car is designed to do auto and my previous Cali's have done it quite well, just as this did 3.000 km's ago - but the problem is also present in manual and either way, I was not talking about jerky shifts, but jerky acceleration. Auto just emphasizes it as auto generally uses the 2-3K range during smooth acceleration. The car is always in comfort, and nobody talked about revving over 4K (with 37 Ferraris under the belt during the last 18 years, I consider myself fairly familiar with handling and maintenance :). This is not a general California experience, but a technical problem on this particular car that is getting worse, so additional suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
     
  4. TheMayor

    TheMayor Seven Time F1 World Champ
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    Feb 11, 2008
    71,278
    Vegas baby
    Throttle position sensor. Have it checked.
     
  5. Fireman1291

    Fireman1291 Formula Junior
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    Never met anyone that actually uses Auto mode in a Ferrari. In any case it could be a multitude of problems. Bad fuel filter, TPS sensor, clutches, MAF dirty, etc.
     
  6. Carnut

    Carnut F1 Rookie
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    I think it might more like most people don't admit that they use automatic almost all the time. Don't get me started on that one, but I think the mayor might be on to something. You did not mention how many miles were on the car, and whether the plugs were the originals or not. My guess would not be filters, but the plugs should not be that dirty, so I'd look into what caused that to happen, because that is probably what is causing your other problem as well. OP you seem to know these cars well enough to know this is not transmission issue, so find a mechanic that has been around long enough that they worked on car before everything was done by a computer rather than taking things apart. There could be a few things that cause your plugs to get that way, and I don't want to guess what it might be, but that would be the first thing I would have asked the dealer. If they could not answer (and it is not normal wear), then find someone that can. I would have already had the thing on my lift and started to take it apart, but I have issues with the concept of service technician vs mechanic. Good luck.
     
  7. Il Co-Pilota

    Il Co-Pilota Formula Junior

    May 29, 2019
    762
    Copenhagen
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    A.B
    I remember a few years ago hearing of Calis with issues due to carbon buildup. Carbon buildup in heads and on valves can most definitely cause stumbling and rough engine operation. It has nothing to do with Auto. Pmenty of people drive their Cali in Auto and the car was made for it. Yes it's a Ferrari, but it is also a drop top GT, and most use it as a such.

    I would run a couple of tanks using CRC GDI Cleaner through it and see if that helps. Can't remember what it says on the tin, but run the highest recommended amount in each tank, and use the highest octane Shell V power you can get. All your engine might need, is a proper cleaning of the injectors, valves and chambers. Your fouled spark plugs definitely could indicate carbon buildup.

    Let us know how it turns out.
     
    Mike Chawla, Fireman1291 and 4th_gear like this.
  8. Streetsurfer

    Streetsurfer Formula Junior

    Dec 16, 2015
    855
    near Chicago
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    Ron
    I agree with adding a fuel cleaner. I’d also add a bottle of good octane booster in the event you got some gas that was stale or under the posted octane.
     
  9. Il Co-Pilota

    Il Co-Pilota Formula Junior

    May 29, 2019
    762
    Copenhagen
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    A.B
    Judging by the OPs experiences, I don't think it sounds like a bad tank of gas.
    Generally speaking, it is highly advisable to not mix additives.
    In this case, I'd simply run it close to empty, fuel at a station that has lots of customers(fresh fuel) and high octane fuel i.e Shell V-Power 99 RON or similar. Add the cleaner to three tanks of fuel to give it a good clean and see if that helps.
    If it was down to bad gas, it would also stumble on hard accelerations. Again, the fact that it does not do that, but only does it on part throttle where timing is fully advanced and the mixture is lean, points to a situation where cleaning of heads, valves and injectors could solve the issue.
     
  10. Carnut

    Carnut F1 Rookie
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    I agree with the above, it is not bad gas (unless it has had bad gas since day one). Something caused those plugs to get black and dirty, and I have seen cars with 75K with the original plugs looking pretty clean. It night help OP, if you gave a little more info about the car, like how many miles, where/when you bought it, any service records.
     
  11. 4th_gear

    4th_gear F1 Rookie
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    Jan 18, 2013
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    Michael
    I generally agree with running well-proven engine cleaners, detergents in your fuel but people should also know DETERGENTS WILL also DEGRADE YOUR ENGINE OIL and result in reduction of the oil's protection of your engine and CAN INCREASE ENGINE WEAR. So you should only "clean" your engines just before an oil change. If you don't, you may harm your engine, depending on how aggressive the "cleaning" was. This advice came from an M5 master mechanic. Don't mess with your engine oil.

    Also, you need to know there are 3 fuel pumps in the Cali and one of them sits on the top of one of the 2 lower portions of the fuel tank - it's the RED-circled object shown below. The BLUE and GREEN-circled objects are just caps and gaskets (the other 2 pumps are in the engine compartment).

    The fuel pump inside your gas tank uses gas in the tank as coolant because unlike in the engine compartment there is NO OTHER WAY to cool the pump inside the gas tank. Yes, the fuel pump is cooled by the gas in the tank. If you run the tank close to empty, that pump will run hot and fuel pumps have failed in cars because drivers habitually try to drive till their gas tanks are close to empty. So DO NOT run your gas tank close to empty. I would not go beyond 1/4 tank full before a refill.



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    Therefore I would also advise on a more conservative cleaning approach. Rather than run 3 tanks of detergent/gas through, which can take a long time for some people, all the while with a detergent degrading their engine oil, try going down to a 1/4 tank full then add 1/2 the normal amount of cleaner for a full gas tank of detergent treatment and then fill the gas tank to 1/2 full. Clean the engine with that 1/2 gas tank which has the cleaner in it.

    Drive your car till this 1/2 tank drops to 1/4 and see if you feel any improvement to driveability. While I have never had to clean my Cali's engine I used to do this on my BMWs and the effects of cleaning can be felt very quickly, within the 1st 100km. If the car seems to run better, do the same thing one more time to finish the job, but I personally wouldn't try to do this on the Cali with any more than 1 tank of gas because as I said, detergents degrade engine oil. More tanks of detergent means running your engine on many more miles with less and less engine oil protection. I would personally never do that because I want to avoid unnecessary engine wear. I have never needed more than 1 gas tank worth treatment, even on my BMWs.

    If you really need to treat your engine with 3 tank-fulls of detergent IMO you should get an engine service from your dealer instead. This is not a BMW and you can get a very expensive repair bill if you mess too much with your Cali's engine.
     
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  12. Chizz

    Chizz Formula Junior
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    May 21, 2017
    253
    Atlanta
    Thanks for the great info
     
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  13. Streetsurfer

    Streetsurfer Formula Junior

    Dec 16, 2015
    855
    near Chicago
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    Ron
    Please let us know if you find this related to low speed pre-ignition.
     
  14. Krog

    Krog Rookie

    Apr 3, 2013
    26
    Sweden
    Full Name:
    Krog
    Hi all - thank you for all the suggestions. The car had 51.000 km's on the odometer when I bought it and has close to 55.000 now. I do not know whether the spark plugs were original or not, but they were replaced at last service and it did not change a thing. The mechanic also talked about carbon buildup on valves and intake, but also mentioned that it would take some time to clean it up, so I opted for trying out the new spark plugs first. The car has had normal service since 2010 with only one service that was not done by Ferrari.

    The problem is a bit hard to describe, but if I e.g. cruise in 7th with low RPM (e.g. 2.000) and put my foot down firm but gently, the car responds to the accelerator at first, but if were to look at a dyno curve, there would be massive drops and the curve would be highly unstable up to 4.000 RPM where the problem does not seem as evident. It seems to get worse almost by each day and I never get a steady cruise but can feel the instability in the engine at all times. A bit like a race car with aggressive cam angles which only runs good at full speed. I can also hear the exhaust "popping" a lot more than I think it should at cruise and deceleration. Will have another chat with the shop, but feel free to give additional comments.


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  15. Carnut

    Carnut F1 Rookie
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    You are not going to like this, but I would have already started breaking the engine down. I have seen plugs on a Corvette will 75,000 miles on the plugs look better than that. There is some going on in the engine and it might be an inexpensive fix or it might not be. But I would park it till it was fixed.
     
  16. 4th_gear

    4th_gear F1 Rookie
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    Jan 18, 2013
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    It would be a good idea for you to have the old spark plugs for you to examine after your garage changes them out because the photo you attached, while useful, isn’t very good quality and leaves some uncertainty about the exact condition of the plugs. You also don’t have photos of every spark plug. This is important because the car’s problem may be affecting all cylinders or just one or a few.

    The black deposit may be carbon or oil and that difference is important to distinguish. Dry carbon means incomplete combustion and means either too much fuel or too little air. Distinguish between those 2 causes to determine if the root cause is in fuel delivery or air intake. If the black coloration is wet, it means you have oil in that cylinder and the oil is leaking into it, possibly indicates wear in the rings. This usually only affects one or a few cylinders but not the entire engine.

    Since you only account for putting the last 5,000 miles of the 55,000 miles on the odometer I suspect the problem happened with the previous owner(s). Check the service history for issues previously reported. Perhaps ask the mechanic who serviced the previous owner for clues. Dry carbon deposits on valve guides can reduce air supply to the cylinders, causing incomplete ignition and appearance of dry black deposits. The valve guides will then have to be cleaned. In that situation you can use the CRC GDI Cleaner that was recommended by Il Co-Pilota but make sure you do an oil change immediately after. If it works the effects can be felt very quickly.

    The main thing is to check to see if the black appearance on your plugs is dry or wet, whether all or only some plugs have that appearance.
     
  17. Streetsurfer

    Streetsurfer Formula Junior

    Dec 16, 2015
    855
    near Chicago
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    Ron
    What is the oil specification? Have you tried SN+?
     
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