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just bought 360M! Variator

Discussion in '360/430' started by raywong, Aug 11, 2009.

  1. raywong

    raywong Formula Junior

    Aug 29, 2004
    661
    Hong Kong
    Full Name:
    Raymond
    I just bought a light blue 99' 360M. The car was very well maintained inside out, 30 pages of dealer service record, new timing belt...
    However, I just found out the cam variators were never updated(thanks to this forum). I called the dealer, they admitted that the variators should have been changed few years ago. I was asked to bring my car in 2 weeks later to update the variators free of charge.
    Am I taking a big risk to drive the car now?
    Thanks!
     
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  3. agup48

    agup48 Two Time F1 World Champ

    Apr 15, 2006
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    Congrats!! :)
     
  4. K Cuv

    K Cuv Karting

    Apr 22, 2008
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    Kyle Cuviello
    nice! PICS
     
  5. E60 M5

    E60 M5 Moderator
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    Know one will know for sure until they break and your engine gets fried. Why risk it, just wait. Make sure to replace the belts at the same time, might cost you some extra coin, but better to do it now.

    Post some pics when you get a chance. Congrats!!!!!
     
  6. andrew911

    andrew911 F1 Rookie
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    Sep 8, 2003
    2,868
    Northern NJ
    I do not have a 360, but I have to chime in. It's great that you are getting these updated and maybe I shouldn't say this due to "Murphy's Law", but the car is 10 years old. The odds are quite low that after 120 months on the road that the variator will break in the next 2 weeks or so until it gets fixed- if it were me I'd drive the car and enjoy it. That said, I understand how due to "Murphy's law" you'd be nervious- I am very careful with my 911 and will be even more careful when I eventually get a 360....Lord knows it takes long enough to earn the cash to buy and maintain these cars.

    I agree with you, this forum is great for the information available, especially on the 360 updates and other things listed in the 360 buyer's guide sticky post (I'll also likely be looking at an earlier 360 when the time comes). A hearty congratulations on your purchase!

    -Andrew
     
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  8. gandalfthegray.

    gandalfthegray. Formula Junior

    Jul 18, 2006
    686
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    Steve
    #6 gandalfthegray., Aug 11, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2009
    You've waited this long for a 360, wait two more weeks. Don't take the chance. If it fails, the results are catastrophic.
     
  9. fc2

    fc2 F1 Veteran
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    Nov 2, 2006
    5,136
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    Frank C.
    +1

    While they're in there, you might as well hit the reset button on everything so you know, for sure, all is well.

    Congrats on your new car.
     
  10. campbell53

    campbell53 Karting

    Oct 5, 2006
    96
    I bought a 99 360 Modena 2 years ago. Variators had not been done. I sweated every time I started the car. It wasn't enjoyable. I finally sent the car to Continental for a 30k and they did everything. Huge relief and great piece of mind. Just wait and get it done.
     
  11. dkilka

    dkilka Formula Junior

    May 8, 2007
    282
    Australia
    Mate,
    I don't know that the new ones are any better than the old ones!!!! I have recently had a new type variator fail on me causing considerable engine damage. I would advise replacing even the "uprated" variators at every belt change. I will be doing this in future.

    Far too much info to post here but please see my full thread for detailed info on this.

    http://www.ferrarichat.com/forum/showthread.php?t=240871

    Not trying to cause panic but I want to inform all 360 owners. I would not want this to occur to anyone else!!!!!!
     
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  13. andrew911

    andrew911 F1 Rookie
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    Sep 8, 2003
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    #10 andrew911, Aug 12, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2009
    Holy crap- that thead dkilka posted is scary. What is the incremental cost to replace the variators during a belt change (including the labor as it seems to be somewhat difficult to replace the part?) This reminds me of the research I had to do many years ago on the camshaft chain tensioners for the pre-1984 911s, except in those days research was tougher before the internet...

    Is only one camshaft (exhaust) variable timing? (I assume the cam variator is the device that advances/retards the camshaft timing?) While I am not an owner, this type of thread is invaluable for my research and I have a much more through understanding of this issue. I may wait a few days for this thread to play out and summarize it in a post to the sticky 360 buyers guide postings- basically all 360's can have this issue not just those built before 2002!

    -Andrew
     
  14. dkilka

    dkilka Formula Junior

    May 8, 2007
    282
    Australia
    Hi Andrew,
    All info is in the post, but to quickly answer your question;

    You are correct only one camshaft (Exhaust) is variable and has a variator fitted. Variators cost 150GBP each. I purchased mine from Claudio at Eurospares. in UK

    I am an engineer and I have recently undertaken an NDT inspection (MPI crack detection) on the other variator that did not fail to see if this was also suspect and on its way to failure (Obviously I had both variators replaced when rebuilding the cylinder head). This variator did not show any sign's of crack's or damage. Given the very small diameter of the shaft I therefore determine that once the failure mode is initiated the part fails instantaniously. I see this as a fatigue related failure.

    In light of this I will certainly be fitting new variators at each belt service in future.

    D.
     
  15. andrew911

    andrew911 F1 Rookie
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    2,868
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    #12 andrew911, Aug 13, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2009
    D- I may have missed it in the thread that you attached, but I was unsure of if anyone was able to determine the approximate cost to replace in terms of labor- that seems to be the bigger expense than the part itself (although I know that would vary shop to shop). I wish one of the reputable firms like Hill Engineering could build a bullet proof update that is a one-time fix....

    This could be one of those types of parts that would only fail on one out of 1,000 cars (reading ferrari/porsche/whatever forums shows the worst mechanical weaknesses of cars, and often the things people post only occur with 0.01% of the cars), but when it's something like this and the potential damage it can do, it's worth learning about and doing some form of preventative maintenance....

    I wonder if a happy medium plan would be to have the variators replaced every belt change if people are doing a 5-year interval for timing belts, or every other belt change if people are doing a 3-year interval? (as I would think the timing belts can go 5 years safely as do 2 ferrari mechanics I've spoken to, unless my opinion changes between now and whenever I can get a 360...but I'm moving on to a different topic that has been debated ever since Ferrari changed the recommended belt-change intervals) There has to be some happy medium vs doing all this major stuff every 36 months...and I think of these things less as trying to be cheap with money or taking maintenance shortcuts, more along the lines of doing maintenance that is reasonably necessary instead of wasting money that could be deployed elsewhere :)
     
  16. raywong

    raywong Formula Junior

    Aug 29, 2004
    661
    Hong Kong
    Full Name:
    Raymond
    Are there any way to visually identify the updated variator? My dealer said they had probably changed all the tensioner, pulley, and variators in the past few belt service... Otherwise, they are only willing to provide the variator free of charge, but not the labour cost, because the recall campaign was so many years ago.
     
  17. E60 M5

    E60 M5 Moderator
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    Jan 2, 2006
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    Contact FNA directly, the campaign is still open and they should be paying for the replacement of the variator and LABOR. The issue arises when you want to replace the belts and so forth. Those replacements are not covered and the dealer does not want to miss out on the cost of a belt service, so they are trying to squeeze you by telling you labor is not covered. I however, did not allow them to put the old belts back on and I negiotiated a fair price for service to include updated pulleys, belts and so forth. Meet them half way and try and work it out.

    By letter of campaign, they just have to replace variator and thats all. Hope this helps.
     
  18. dkilka

    dkilka Formula Junior

    May 8, 2007
    282
    Australia
    Read the thread all the info is in there. A couple of people have also listed the batch numbers (4A etc) of the variators and highlighted the good ones from the bad ones. (the variator has a 2 digit code marked on it's front face where it bolts to the pulley). There are also pdf attachments in the thread covering the full variator "upgrade" with drawings of the old and new components. If you have any issues PM me with your email address and I can forward these on.


    I sure hope you are right and this is an isolated issue. I have however spoken to a number of Ferrari tech's who have experienced this failure. Having said that it could still be a relatively small proportion of the cars they service. Personally I will never take a chance again and will get them done every belt service. There is no logic to this as my Variators were upgraded to the new type in 2004, they lasted 5yrs and over 10k miles before failure. Hence I believe this is a fatigue related issue on a badly designed part.
    I too wish Hill Engineering could address this and also mentioned this in my thread. However as an engineer I feel the design is more the issue and I do not feel that this could be easily changed. The diameter of the thread (the variators fail on this diameter) cannot be increased as this mates with the internal diameter in the camshaft. If you were to bore the camshaft out and manufacture a variator with a larger diameter you would be moving the issue to the camshaft as you are reducing the amount of metal around the variator. It's a chicken and egg thing, robbing Peter to pay Paul. When I 1st set eyes on the variator I thought "this thing has been designed to fail!!!! Take a look at my photos in the thread and you will see how small the diameter of the thread on the variator is. In addition to this the centre of the variator thread has a bore in it and also a hole through that at 90 degrees. I do not like this design at all!!!

    D.
     
  19. gandalfthegray.

    gandalfthegray. Formula Junior

    Jul 18, 2006
    686
    Pinewood, MN
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    Steve

    Robert does this apply to Euro cars as well, or will FNA not honor the campaign as they didn't honor warranty?
     
  20. andrew911

    andrew911 F1 Rookie
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    Sep 8, 2003
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    #17 andrew911, Aug 14, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2009
    Once again excellent info in this and the other thread. I am not an engineer, but I have to ask then- is there any way to use a stronger metal, or would that be cost-prohibited design wise or impossable?

    I do agree with you it's quite frustrating that this type of design fault is in what should be an 8,500 rpm high performance motor- the motor is only as durable as it's weakest link, and this seems like it would have been such an easy design flaw to catch. Doesn't mean I don't want a 360- every car has their issues- just unfortunate that it's something to constantly be aware of with the 360s. The original car I was aiming for (355 spider) had some what should be one-time fixes (valve guides, headers), but some thing issues that would never go away (the power top operation, seat potentiometers). I guess it's part of the "fun" of owning a Ferrari... What was I bitten by this bug? ;)

    The variator failure is probably a pretty rare occurance, but when it occurs it sure can be costly....my guess is we will be hearing more of these failures in the coming years with cars that people thought were updated with a final fix or that owners assumed were OK since they are later cars only to be unpleasantly surprised...
     
  21. E60 M5

    E60 M5 Moderator
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    As I understand, 99% sure, Euro cars are not covered.
     
  22. dkilka

    dkilka Formula Junior

    May 8, 2007
    282
    Australia
    I agree with your comments. I have been extremely unfortunate to have this occur on my car but hopefully its a small issue. Perhaps the QC on the new variators was not very good back in 2004 when the recall was 1st performed?? The variator is of steel construction. You could change the composition of the steel but this would either make the part harder and more brittle or softer and more tough. Either way it's a compromise and I would really hope that Ferrari calculated this correctly in the 1st instance. You could use Titanium but this is essentially only the same tensile strength as steel (It only has the benefit of being lighter). Then there is the thermo dynamics involved with an internal combustion engine, I cannot comment on this without being witness to the R & D calcs and assumptions. This too could effect what material could be used. I would assume that the variator should be of the same or simular material to the camshaft that it screws into to avoid such thermal expansion issues. (Different materials expand at different rates). Taking all this into the equation I can see quite clearly why Hill engineering would not really want to get envolved! Imagine the legal suits if their design failed!!! I cannot see that it's worth the commercial risk to them on a part that retails for such as small amount of money but has such a critical application. Thats just my 2cent's, I could be wrong.

    I previously had a new Porsche like you and must say that I couldn't fault the engineering or quality. It was a very impressive car but a little bit boring! I did consider moving back to a new 911 after this but once you have owned a Ferrari it's hard to go back. Even when **** like this happens! There is absolutely no doubt to me that a porsche is generally a better engineered and more reliable car than a Ferrari. But they are just not special enough and have a production car feel. A quality production car I might add, but no personnality. The Ferrari feels alive for all its faults, Porsche are not in the same league as a Ferrari IMO. The 360 is my 3rd Ferrari and the 1st time I have experienced any major issues, although I have experienced lots of smaller, irritating issues with my previous cars (348's). I NEVER scrimp on maintainence and you still experience irritating faults, thats part of the deal with a Ferrari I'm afraid! I must be an idiot eh?

    Having said the above I must say I feel totally devalued as a multiple Ferrari owner and simply could not ever bring myself to now buy a new one. Ferrari totally ignored me and did not even offer any assistance as a gesture of good will! I mean they could have sold me the parts at cost or a reduced mark up, this would have meant nothing to them! This would have been appreciated and made me feel a great deal better about the situation. Unfortunately Ferrari is simply a money making (Fiat) business and they do not care about their customers unless it directly benefits them. I have experienced this 1st hand. The next new super car I buy will either be a Porsche 911 GT2 or 3 or a Lambo. That is now a certainty.

    I do not participate in this forum to assist or benefit Ferrari. I do it for my own benefit and the benefit (hopefully) of the other Ferrari owners and followers who make this forum such a great place for knowledge. These people make the experience of owning a Ferrari so much better and more achievable. If my experiences can help someone else avoid or address an issue than I am very happy.

    D.
     
  23. andrew911

    andrew911 F1 Rookie
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    Sep 8, 2003
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    #20 andrew911, Aug 14, 2009
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2009
    I agree with all your comments- from the engineering thoughts on the part, to the porsche experience....I have a 1993 (only 25K miles on her) which is one of the old school 911s- we had a cayenneS as a daily driver which was as you say a nice quality product, but didn't have the soul of the older porsches (yes I realize it's just a sporty SUV, but I'd imagine the latest 911s are great performance but the same mass produced feel). The 1998 and prior 911's still have got the thick gauge body steel/bank valut solid/largely hand built quality/special 911 sound and are more "special" to me. I can't fault the bullet proof reliability of the air cooled 911s- this is my 3rd in the past 20 years...but as a car guy there is simply no substitute for ferrari to me. The design, sound, feel etc- I just don't think you'll find that with the lambo or the GT3- yes the performance will be there, but even just seeing a Ferrari in the garage if you can't take it for a ride is quite nice (artwork on wheels to me). I predict you'll get over the variator and will not sell your car (just my prediction).

    About 2 years ago I met David E. Davis at one of our porsche club meetings (Automobile Magazine, and car & driver or R&T before that)- I told him then I was thinking of moving to Ferrari for the experience- he recommended I stick with my 911 for the reliability/build. Ahh, what does he know :)

    Since I've moved way off topic, at another porsche club meeting they has Vic Elford as a guest speaker. I asked him what he drives today- answer: his wife has a Honda Accord, and he has a ford escort station wagon(!) that he drives to the airport when he travels around....no Ferrari or even Porsche for him- Ahh, what does he know :)
     
  24. dkilka

    dkilka Formula Junior

    May 8, 2007
    282
    Australia
    Yes the latest 911's are exactly that. The 993 is the last of the true 911's regardless of what anyone says. I'd hold on to that if I were you.

    I must admit the whole Ferrari thing is starting to wear thin for me after the whole Variator disaster. Part of me feels that I would now be happy with a Porsche again and no more "Nasty surprises"!!!! Perhaps Mr Davis is correct.......
    D.
     
  25. paulie_b

    paulie_b F1 Veteran
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    Jan 13, 2003
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    If anyone is interested, I have the Technical Bulletin on this subject. It is in German and English. PM to me with your email address and I will send to you.
     
  26. docf

    docf Formula 3

    Sep 14, 2008
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    Gary
    Is there anywhere on Ferrari chat as to the exact # of new Variator Failures. We know the story of the unfortunate individual in the UK, but just how many are truely out there?? Possibly this might make a new Thread or survey! How many are replacements from pre 2002, vs 2003 cars and 2004. COuld any of the replacement failures been installed incorrectly? Has anyone done a metallelergy test on newer failed parts.
    Docf
     
  27. dkilka

    dkilka Formula Junior

    May 8, 2007
    282
    Australia
    I don't think we will ever really know as Ferrari are certainly not making this public knowledge! I cannot see any Ferrari Mech's publically stating that this is an issue (at least if they like their jobs!) The only way we will find out on here is by this unfortunate situation occuring to members of Fchat!!!!

    I do know of a case of new type variator failure on the east coast of Australia, was either Sydney or Melbourne and I have also heard of some incidences in Europe. Mainly in Germany. I have been told this by a Ferrari tech who recently returned from a training course at Ferrari Italy. (He obviously wishes to (and will) remain nameless).

    As for the theory of incorrect installation please read the threads. This is discussed numerous times. To re-iterate; My part failed after 5yrs and 10k miles of use......

    I have performed crack detection on the other variator that did not fail and this did not show any issues with that component.

    D.
     
  28. azcarguy

    azcarguy Formula Junior

    Nov 21, 2003
    453
    AZ
    Full Name:
    Marc
    Yours have been done, and had been checked during my PPI on the car in Washington. It might be on the receipt you have for the PPI (has the engine compression/leakdown numbers on it) and if it's not on the paper I spoke to the tech personally and had him check it and get back to me so no worries just enjoy the car.
     

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