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variator question as I am confused

Discussion in '360/430' started by ASK328, Jan 2, 2010.

  1. ASK328

    ASK328 Formula 3
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    Sep 23, 2005
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    Andrew
    I keep hearing about this and almost purchased a 2001 360 that had the failure 2 weeks after I almost bought the car. And with the few threads that are going on currently I did not want to hijack a thread. I always hear that 360's are bullet proof however this issue has me pausing before I pull the trigger on this model.

    1. Do 2003 and 2004's have the problem?
    2. Once they have taken care of the recall some are still having the problem?

    Any other advice and experience would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks,

    AK
     
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  3. ASK328

    ASK328 Formula 3
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    3. Also if a car has had the failure and then the engine was rebuilt is that engine and car one should avoid?

    Thanks,

    AK
     
  4. E60 M5

    E60 M5 Moderator
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    Jan 2, 2006
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    Any 360 could have this problem, IF not properly maitained. Belt service should include replacing pulleys, tensioners and variators, better safe than sorry.
     
  5. mgv1

    mgv1 Formula Junior

    Feb 6, 2006
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    Mark V
    To answer your second question first, if a car has a history of work, especially body damage then it's not necessarily a bad car (if repaired properly) but will make it harder to sell later and affect the price. There are so many clean cars out there unless the price was extremely low I personally wouldn't consider it.

    On the variators, this is how I understand it:

    People say that the variator is under engineered and there is a potential shear point due to material thickness near the threaded section. If it breaks then the valves can hit the pistons on that bank with obvious results. Its not clear if the material/treatment was changed for the replacements as the replacement parts seem identical. So the issue is that if it hasn't broken then by replacing it you may actually be fitting a component that's more likely to break. Looking at the component drawings it does seem very thin at the threads considering it holds highly stressed rotating parts together.

    Some of the more technically competent on here may have updated information by now too. My 360 had them done under warranty at time of a prior service.
     
  6. dkilka

    dkilka Formula Junior

    May 8, 2007
    282
    Australia
    This happened to my 360 straight after a main dealer belt service!!!! I am sure most of you guys would have seen my thread (Please help engine failure after main dealer belt service), it's quite a long thread but I followed it through for the benefit of everyone on here. My car is (and always has been) maintained regardless of cost exclusively at Ferrari main dealers all upgrades completed including Variators in 2004. I look after her and always allow the engine and oil to warm up prior to reving over 3k. Read the thread and make your own opinion.

    IMO This issue can definately effect any 360 and the new variators are no better than the old ones, all the cases you are reading about are on the new variators (Mine were changed under recall in 2004 to the new style ones and one failed in 2009 less than 5yrs after replacement (less than 10k miles put on engine in that time).

    I am an engineer and IMO this is definately a design issue. The part fatigues over time. But considering the large number of 360's out there effects a small proportion. Pay your money and take your chance. I would certainly prefer to buy a car that has had this failure and has been repaired properly. I got the dealer to change both variators and fit new belt tensioners (Hill engineering), replaced every valve in the head even though 7 or so were undamaged. If you read the Ferrari 360 workshop manual it actually states that the variators have a life of 100,000km's.

    If you want to play safe and have the money buy a 430 as I believe they have fixed the issue on this by making the variator threads a larger dia. Although perhaps the 430 has other issues? I'm no expert on the 430. Like I said in my thread I will be having the variators replaced at every belt service in future and believe this will prevent any chance of any further issues.

    I do not want to or intend on scaremongering. I just want people to be informed and not be subject to the same disaster as I have been. This way you can opt to have the variators replaced at the belt service or not. Although the variator failure only effects a small proportion of 360 it's no consolation when its yours!!!! Just as I found out!!!!!!

    You will see more issues of variators failing as the cars get older. I stated this in early 2009 and have unfortunately been proven correct thus far!

    Knowledge is power and with this one can have the variators replaced and help avoid becoming another statistic. The 360 is a fantastic car and this issue is one that can be mitigated. Every car out there can have terminal issues. I could go out and get knocked over and killed tomorrow but I still leave the house. That's life! I hope you guy's understand the point I am trying to make.

    BTW Happy new year to everyone on Ferrari Chat.

    Regards
    D.
     
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  8. Beanster

    Beanster Karting

    Dec 5, 2009
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    Does Hill or anyone else make an upgraded variator?
    (I dont see one on Hill's site.)
     
  9. dkilka

    dkilka Formula Junior

    May 8, 2007
    282
    Australia
    Unfortunately not.

    From my research the small diameter of the variator threads and the female thread in the camshaft is the limiting factor in the design and this cannot be easily overcome. The fact that this diameter has been increased by Ferrari on the 430 would appear to validate this.

    I really hope I am wrong and Hill engineering innovate a solution but I wouldn't hold my breath. Also can you imagine the legal implications Hill would be subject to if they had any of their variators fail???? The Variators are only approx $300 each and from a commercial sense I do not see the risk worth it. Especially if the design issue is as I suspect above.

    Again I really hope I am wrong and Hill make some! I would be the 1st to buy some from them if they do thats for certain!!!
     
  10. away

    away Formula Junior

    Aug 5, 2004
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    Lansdale, PA
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    Andrew
    I'm not trying to simplify a solution, but how about producing the same factory variator out of Titanium (inconel, stainless steel, tungsten, et al.) that would simply be stronger and less susceptible to shearing?

    I'm sure they're reasons I'm overlooking, like perhaps being cost prohibitive to produce, etc. I'm certain though most people would pony up a little extra money to replace and fix their variators once and for all.
     
  11. awatkins

    awatkins Formula Junior

    Apr 10, 2005
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    Alan Watkins
    #9 awatkins, Jan 31, 2010
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2010
    Regarding "all the cases you are reading about are on new variators".... How do you know that? How many cases of new ones failing are actually documented vs how many that have been replaced and NOT failed?

    Regarding the flat assertion that "the new variators are no better than the old" I haven't seen proof for that yet; read on....

    Having just carefully read the variator TSB (http://www.ricambiamerica.com/images/TSB1232_SC97.pdf) I notice the installation torque value is reduced from 200 to 160 nM (20%) and it is clearly specified that the threads be non-lubricated. Consider the following scenarios that might cause a latent failure in an otherwise good new part:

    1. Mechanic neglects that the figure has been lowered and overtorques the part by 25%.
    2. Mechanic fails to carefully clean the threads (both sides) of any oil or other lubricant, or uses loctite. The common rule-of-thumb for lubricated threads vs dry is a 20% increase in elongation force.
    3. Mechanic's torque wrench is not accurate resulting in the part being over-torqued.

    If any of those occured we would have a failure that was NOT strictly speaking a manufacturing or design defect in the part itself. Given the huge number of 360s that have now had this procedure done 'in the field" since the TSB came out, I would expect at least a few of them to suffer from an installation error of this kind. This simply comes with the statistical territory of having large numbers of human beings intervening in the insides of a complex machine.

    Regarding "This happened to my 360 straight after a main dealer belt service!!!!"

    Has it ever occurred to you that the belt service itself was the proximal cause? Suppose the belts were inadvertantly overtensioned enough , even briefly, to initiate the failure....
     
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  13. Pantdino

    Pantdino Formula 3

    Jan 13, 2004
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    what is the actual diameter of the thread that breaks? (ie M12-1.25)
    Is 200nm a generally accepted standard torque for that size bolt?

    You are right about the torque reduction and the dry threads issue-- If the threads were oiled and someone ran it to 200nm it would be SEVERELY overtorqued.
     
  14. dkilka

    dkilka Formula Junior

    May 8, 2007
    282
    Australia
    Mate,
    Whilst I can agree with some of your thoughts & idea's I would like to state the following;

    I have a source at Ferrari (who shall remain nameless) who has confirmed my info. I don't really give a **** if people belive me or not! I am just trying to provide people with info. Info which I wish I had received! I would have then also replaced the variators at the belt service and not ended up with all the cost and hastle!!!

    Fact; Ferrari went about a comprehensive re-design on the variators in the 430. Beefing up the thread diameter. Why else would they do this?????

    BTW since completing the thread I have discovered 2 more cases here in Australia alone. 1 in south Australia and one in NSW. Not everyone is on Fchat and not everyone makes the failures public in this manor. To them its a case of the engine breaking on a used car out of warranty........

    The variators are not touched at the belt service. My "uprated" variators were installed under recall in 2004 and lasted 5yrs! (and 10k miles). If they were not installed correctly or the like as per your insinuations I doubt they would have lasted that long! In addition to this all the work on this vehicle has been performed at Ferrari. I would hope they would know the correct specs and have the latest info and updates.

    As for the idea that the damage may have been caused at the belt service I had a consultant look into that (for possible litigation options). We could find no tangable proof on this theory. The magnitude of force that would be required to be applied to the belt to make this part fail once fitted and supported in the camshaft is huge. Someone would have had to "try" very hard to serverely overtension the belt and indeed this may initiate failure of the hydraulic tensioning system prior to reaching the required force value.

    I have stated my info for the good of people on Fchat and am now becoming tired of constantly having to repeat and justify myself to people who doubt what I am saying. I don't care if you ignore my experience. That's your choice but at least you have a choice.

    I am now quite sure everyone has had enough of the variator subject, I know I have!!! Hence I will simply be ignoring all other threads related to this and not responding any more on this subject. I have done my part in trying to prevent this occuring to anyone else and blowing the whistle that this IS AN ISSUE.

    Read the info, draw your own conclusion and lets please move on!!!!!!!!!
     
  15. Pantdino

    Pantdino Formula 3

    Jan 13, 2004
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    dkilka,

    I think everyone agrees the variators are a problem and were under-engineered.
    I read the posts as possible explanations for what could exacerbate the problem, not denials that there is a problem or that we don't believe you.

    I find it perfectly plausible that a mechanic could overtighten something. I have seen some very experienced and reliable mechanics (and famous physicians) make mistakes.
    That's partly why I like to do things myself.

    "The Dealer" never does anything-- it is some human who might not have slept well the night before, is hung over, is too rushed, is interrupted in the middle of the job, etc, etc.
     
  16. SeaNile

    SeaNile Formula Junior

    Jan 25, 2010
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    So would a 360 with a known failure and repaired engine be worth less? Would you even consider a car with a repaired engine?
     
  17. away

    away Formula Junior

    Aug 5, 2004
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    I was in this exact predictament. A dealer car I was seriously considering had a failure while in their possession. They repaired the car (and even raised the price!) but I chose to move on. There were too many good "non-story" cars out there to fret about that one.
     
  18. FerrariDublin

    FerrariDublin F1 Rookie

    Jun 14, 2009
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    In my case the engine on my 2000 360M was stamped "VD" indicating variator done. I couldn't find any mention of it in the service records and contacted a Ferrari dealer to find out what they could tell me.

    It turns out the entire engine was replaced by Ferrari with a brand new unit after 2 years/13k miles.

    Does it devalue the car? Not as far as I'm concerned, I'm happy to know that a) the recall has now been done, b) it was replaced with a factory assembled engine which presumably means it was correctly torqued etc and c) the engine is 13k miles lower than indicated on the odometer. I don’t think that devalues the car, rather it adds to it!
     
  19. teak360

    teak360 F1 Veteran
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    Well, I'm glad you're happy, but the fickle Ferrari market doesn't agree with you.
     
  20. allen_993

    allen_993 Karting

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    +1
     
  21. SeaNile

    SeaNile Formula Junior

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    That is exactly what worries me about a fixed/repaired/replaced engine.

    --JK
     
  22. away

    away Formula Junior

    Aug 5, 2004
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    In all honesty I'd feel better about a new engine versus a repaired one after a variator failure. Who knows what damage was done to the pistons (however minor) when they kept moving and valves did not.

    Either war you're back to a "story" car and are going to have to explain to someone down the line why the car either (a) has a new engine or (b) had it's valves crunched and repaired.

    There's what, 18,000+ 360's out there? It's just more prudent to move on IMO.
     
  23. flipdowt

    flipdowt Karting

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    +1
    but in a situation when the variator fails, i would rather have a rebuilt engine built by the factory installed than an engine repair at a dealer... lesser of 2 evils
     
  24. SeaNile

    SeaNile Formula Junior

    Jan 25, 2010
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    Well, as Kramer would say "I'm out!!"

    --JK
     
  25. hardtop

    hardtop F1 World Champ

    Jan 31, 2002
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    Normally I'm pretty particular when it comes to buying cars but an engine replacement would not bother me. Ferrari stopped having matching numbers decdes ago. These are just modern cars that are still depreciating. A repaired motor would probably make me move on unless it already had 10K miles on it.

    Dave
     
  26. Pantdino

    Pantdino Formula 3

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    +1
     
  27. moorfan

    moorfan Formula Junior
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    I for one appreciate your thread. I only wish it had appeared on Fchat PRIOR to my belt service 8 months ago :-(. We did not do the variators at that point. Despite having had the recall performed in 2004 or so I am sending the car up to the shop 8 months after a belt service to have the variators redone (along with the belts, unfortunately). It will become part of my belt service until info proves it is not necessary.


     
  28. dkilka

    dkilka Formula Junior

    May 8, 2007
    282
    Australia
    Thanks Pete,
    Yours is the 1st message of appreciation I have received. It's good to know someone is gratefull for the info and has the inteligence to act upon it! It was quite an effort to write that thread and follow it through to the end (especially at that time!) but I felt a duty to inform people and give them an option I simply never had.

    Like I said all along if this saves just one person then I will be happy. I will be replacing my variators in future as part of the belt service and advise other people to do the same. The extra cost of doing this is peanuts compared to what happens when one fails! Ironically the Ferrari 360 workshop manual even states that the variators are consumables and should be replaced at 100k.

    I am a mechanical engineer and when I saw the variator I couldn't believe my eyes! IMO This part is designed to fail!!!!! (It has a small dia thread that screws into the camshaft. This tread has a hole drilled through its center and another hole at 90deg to it 2/3rds of the way up the thread. This hole is to supply oil to the variator mechanism as it is oil actuated but this removes significant material and makes the part even more vulerable to fatigue and associated bending stresses) IMO the variator is certainly the weakest link and I believe that there is more chance of this part failing than either the belt or belt tensioners. When you get your variators replaced make sure that they give you the old ones back and take a look yourself. You will see exactly what I am mean.

    Thanks again for the support.
     

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