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Swirl Flap Actuator

Hi,

my GT 1.9 JTDm CF4 had a faulty thermostat when I bought it and I changed it after a couple of days (along with the oil cooler). I hadn't really driven the car other than very gently before I did the work as I was nervous of the corroded pipes to the oil cooler.

I noticed afterwards that the car chucks out smoke when starting and lots of black soot under hard acceleration. Also, when accelerating under load below 2000rpm there is a coarseness - more a vibration than a misfire. I don't know whether it was doing any of this before I did the work, but I certainly didn't notice anything untoward.

This is my first diesel so, for one thing, I don't know how it should feel, and for another I am not nearly as familiar with how it works as I am with a petrol engine.

The car came from London and the seller directed me to his nearest fuel station when I picked it up, which happened to be a supermarket. If it were a petrol engine, I'd assume from these factors, along with the stuck thermostat, that the plugs were fouled up, but I don't know the effect of lots of short journeys, poor quality fuel and running outside of regulation temperature on a diesel.

I removed and cleaned the EGR valve and fitted one of the later restricted gaskets from Autolusso. I have had both inlet hoses off for inspection. The lower hose was recently replaced and I have the other on order with Autolusso. Neither seemed to be leaking, but there was some deterioration to the upper. I did notice lots of black gunge within the pipes and the throttle body (or whatever it's called on a diesel). There is also a lot on the outside of the engine, under and behind the 'throttle body' and it looks to have been running down inside the upper hose and leaking out around the top of the intercooler. I have not traced a leak.

The EGR clean and gasket, adding Forte injector cleaner and using premium diesel appears to reduce the soot under acceleration, but it's still there, as is the vibration under load. Under light loads and cruising, it runs fine.

I did a bit of research into the swirl flaps over the weekend and found that mine aren't moving at all (it's an aluminium manifold with visible linkage), so I now think that the likely cause of the running problems lies here rather than with an air leak. Could I have knocked the linkage or electrical connection off of the actuator while changing the thermostat? I know it is located around the area of the thermostat, but am struggling to understand where the actuator sits and how to access it to inspect and, hopefully, reconnect either the linkage or plug (I suspect the linkage - wouldn't a loose plug give a fault code?).

There are no fault codes and fuel economy seems to be fine - I am getting 60MPG plus on a run. Using Alfa OBD on Android I see there are big differences in the fuel correction mm3/inject figures. Cylinders 2 and 3 are fairly close together and don't stray far from zero, but cylinder 1 is consistently over -1 and cylinder 4 consistently over +1, sometimes going up to around 5.

Any help with finding where that actuator and linkage can be found, or other ideas would be much appreciated.
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Have you cleaned the map sensor? If you disconnect the map sensor wiring and go for a drive and problem is gone, then there is a good chance the map sensor is not working.
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Have you cleaned the map sensor? If you disconnect the map sensor wiring and go for a drive and problem is gone, then there is a good chance the map sensor is not working.
Hi Tom,

sorry, I forgot to mention in my post that I have cleaned the MAP sensor twice. I will try your suggestion as cleaning it doesn't guarantee it is working.

Thanks,
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The swirl flap mechanisms should be quite obvious on your car, with an all-alloy manifold. There should be a connecting bar along the top of the flaps. This connects via a ball/socket joint to each individual flap's operating lever, whilst the right hand (looking at it) end is driven by the actuator motor hung off the end of the manifold.

Later cars with the plastic plenum have the more dangerous metal flaps, driven by rack and pinon and an actuator motor beneath the manifold - the whole lot is pretty much invisible.

The metal manifold type (yours) have several issues. The actuator bar tends to pop off, or even fall off the car. The seals/bearings that locate the flaps in the manifold tend to wear and leak (losing boost, and leading to rich running and black smoke).

You can buy repair kits on eBay that replace the seals, or plugs if you want to remove the manifold and de-flap it. Or the holes can be welded up.

However I wonder what you have got. CF4 would normally have the alloy stub/plastic plenum/hidden metal flaps, OE on cars from >early 2006. If your car is in that date range, it's likely someone has fitted an all metal CF3 manifold, disabled the flaps (hopefully in the wide open position), and retained the CF4 actuator motor, somewhere down the back of the engine and unconnected mechanically to anything. It will have been retained only to prevent fault codes.

So far, a bit of a mystery.

But I think you're on the right track, looking for boost leaks etc.

Disconnecting the MAF (Mass Air Flow) sensor is a test for a malfunctioning MAF. The car will still run open-loop on unadjusted ECU defaults. The MAP (Manifold Absolute Pressure) sensor is different, a small sensor in the inlet manifold that tends to get coated with soot/oil until it resembles a lump of coal and can't accurately read. Disconnecting that is likely to prevent it running at all.

When you cleaned the EGR did you fully dismantle it and check the solenoid was free? Without doing so, it may well not be working correctly even if 'clean'.
The procedure is described in the 3 pdf's at https://www.alfaowner.com/Forum/alfa...ml#post3573403 (159 1.9JTDm EGR valve.)

If you're seeing 60mpg, even allowing for the exaggerations of the Alfa computer, there can't be much wrong. I suspect the EGR. Frankly, they are such troublesome, filthy things it's worth deleting the EGR and having it mapped out. Autolusso do a full blanking plate and software and cable to delete from the ECU, provided you have a Windows laptop or tablet, for £150. But if you want to test that, make a temporary blank out of an old beer can, and see if that helps. You'll get the EML on fairly quickly and P0104 code but it won't prevent you using the car, and will disappear after you remove the temporary blank, after a few restarts. Don't leave it beyond testing, the beer can will burn through.
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Have you cleaned the map sensor? If you disconnect the map sensor wiring and go for a drive and problem is gone, then there is a good chance the map sensor is not working.
I believe the MAF not MAP is the one to check by disconnecting. This is part of the air intake hose.
Halftone's analysis is pretty accurate. Any jtdm owner has at some point experienced smoke, un-responsiveness, swirl flap paranoia, egr faults, unmetered air, sticky vanes or general poor performance. The causes are numerous but it's a well trodden path eliminating the potential faults. First port of call I'd suggest would be the small vacuum hoses that control the turbo pitch. They are less than a fiver to replace and can just be pinched off and replaced.

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Thanks both. I drafted out a reply to Halftone before, but it disappeared into the ether.
The flaps are Ďparkedí with the ball joints at 9:00 as viewed from in front of the car. I tried moving the bar manually but couldnít shift it. Maybe this is just because it needs twisting on its spindle to move, but it could be that it is locked off somehow. I was thinking though; would someone go to the bother of locking the flaps but leave the EGR valve alone? Mine had the original fully open gasket. It wasnít too gunked up when I cleaned it; the shaft is moving and the solenoid can be actuated from Multiecuscan. I will give the beer can experiment a try at some time though.
DG, where are those turbo pitch hoses? Could a leak from these be responsible for all the soot under the throttle body (see photo)?
I fitted the new upper inlet hose last night but havenít had a chance to see whether it has made a difference. I will report back.
As I mentioned in the original post, Iím new to diesels (other than the odd hire van) and donít really know how a good running JTDm should feel. Mine idles and cruises fine, revs strongly over 2000rpm, is economical and shows no error codes. Against that is the smoke at start-up (I suspect one cylinder isnít firing immediately), the soot under hard acceleration and around the engine and the roughness accelerating under 2000RPM. The turbo whistles but, again, I donít know whether excessively. What might be useful is if there is a forum member in the Southend area who knows the engine and can have a look and listen for me.
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Hi Mark, I used to live in Leigh on sea there was a garage behind the ten pin bowling that I used 10 years ago. Both mechanics were pretty competent. Don't know if its still there.
The vacuum hoses I refer to are about 5mm diameter and easiest to locate from near the bonnet catch. One goes down towards a plunger type thing which is the vane pitch actuator. You can see this plunger move out when the vacuum is lost. There's all sorts of checks you can do but just replace the ones that are easiest to reach.

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Hi Mark, I used to live in Leigh on sea there was a garage behind the ten pin bowling that I used 10 years ago. Both mechanics were pretty competent. Don't know if its still there.
The vacuum hoses I refer to are about 5mm diameter and easiest to locate from near the bonnet catch. One goes down towards a plunger type thing which is the vane pitch actuator. You can see this plunger move out when the vacuum is lost. There's all sorts of checks you can do but just replace the ones that are easiest to reach.

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Thanks DG,

not only is the garage no longer there - the bowling alley has also gone!

If you remember regularly seeing a black 164QV or a gold Thema 8V around when you lived in Leigh, that would have been me. I later had a black 155 with Silverstone spoiler, which would have been hard to miss.

I'll check those hoses out later. I thought the car was running a little better this morning with the new upper hose, but wouldn't draw any conclusions from my 5 mile commute.
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Thanks both. I drafted out a reply to Halftone before, but it disappeared into the ether.
The flaps are Ďparkedí with the ball joints at 9:00 as viewed from in front of the car. I tried moving the bar manually but couldnít shift it. Maybe this is just because it needs twisting on its spindle to move, but it could be that it is locked off somehow. I was thinking though; would someone go to the bother of locking the flaps but leave the EGR valve alone? Mine had the original fully open gasket. It wasnít too gunked up when I cleaned it; the shaft is moving and the solenoid can be actuated from Multiecuscan. I will give the beer can experiment a try at some time though.
DG, where are those turbo pitch hoses? Could a leak from these be responsible for all the soot under the throttle body (see photo)?
I fitted the new upper inlet hose last night but havenít had a chance to see whether it has made a difference. I will report back.
As I mentioned in the original post, Iím new to diesels (other than the odd hire van) and donít really know how a good running JTDm should feel. Mine idles and cruises fine, revs strongly over 2000rpm, is economical and shows no error codes. Against that is the smoke at start-up (I suspect one cylinder isnít firing immediately), the soot under hard acceleration and around the engine and the roughness accelerating under 2000RPM. The turbo whistles but, again, I donít know whether excessively. What might be useful is if there is a forum member in the Southend area who knows the engine and can have a look and listen for me.
The throttle body isn't. Diesels don't normally have them. It's an air-shut off valve to ensure the engine stops without running-on, when ignition is turned off.

It's pretty normal for the whole inlet side to accumulate oil (mist from the turbo) plus soot from the EGR. The valve body and interior of the inlet manifold can get strangled with an accumulation of the oily-sooty gunge many mm thick, and any slight leak from the boost pipe connections will be oily as well. As the turbo bearing and seals age and wear, the oil mist increases. However some is normal, and there's no knowing how long it's taken to accumulate, so it's hard to say how much should worry you. Clean it off with brake cleaner, and keep an eye on it. Unless you have other reasons to suspect the turbo is on the way out, don't worry.

The soot is from the exhaust fed into the inlet by the EGR - which is another good reason to blank the EGR off, aside from unreliability of the valve itself. It's a good idea to clean all the crap out of the inlet manifold, when deleting flaps and blanking the EGR. But since your flaps seem to be disabled and the throat of the valve looks pretty clear of gum from what little I can see, I think you can forget about that. You'd get a better idea after removing the valve throat containing the flap (3 screws, ISTR), then you can shine a torch and see inside the manifold. It only really matters to the extent that airflow is obstructed.

It's not daft to disable the flaps, as has been done here, as long as the spindle seals aren't leaking boost. You'd likely seen more general sooty oiliness around them if they are leaking. If they're dry, it's another thing you don't need to touch. If they do leak, clean with brake cleaner and smother with silicone sealant as a repair until you take the manifold off and remove, and seal them properly with plugs or weld.

Maybe one of the glowplugs is on its way out. That might explain the slight reluctance on cyl#1. Is the smoke white? (unburned diesel). There are various ways to test, but just removing it (9mm deep socket is best) and putting across a battery should give a bright red tip within 2-3sec. A set of 4 Bosch can be had for ~£28 on eBay. Or you might need the injector testing.

Turbo whistle: Although it can indicate a damaged turbine or bearing wear, some cars just seem to do it, for years and years. It's not necessarily a fault until it resembles a police siren, by which time engine oil will be pretty obvious in the exhaust, and smoke. Keep an eye on engine oil level. It should use virtually none.

dg is spot on, that there is just a bunch of things you need to work through, and once done it's a good, reliable engine. Doing the oil cooler dodged a major bullet. Swirls and EGR seem OK. Cam belt is another grenade, usually due to waterpump failure. Alfa's original recommendation of 72k or 6 years is obsolete, a lot didn't last that long. 5yr/60k is still pushing your luck, 4yr/48k is safer - but note it really is age OR miles. Anyhow, unless you know for sure when it was last done, please don't assume... it's a pretty easy job, if you have the tools, and timing lock kit (about £20 on eBay).

What year is your car? You said it's a CF4 but it has a CF3 manifold. That might point to earlier swirl flap failure which with the metal CF4 flaps often causes bent valves. A compression test would eliminate the rather horrid possibility that the car was given a new manifold but not the head repairs.
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The throttle body isn't. Diesels don't normally have them. It's an air-shut off valve to ensure the engine stops without running-on, when ignition is turned off.

It's pretty normal for the whole inlet side to accumulate oil (mist from the turbo) plus soot from the EGR. The valve body and interior of the inlet manifold can get strangled with an accumulation of the oily-sooty gunge many mm thick, and any slight leak from the boost pipe connections will be oily as well. As the turbo bearing and seals age and wear, the oil mist increases. However some is normal, and there's no knowing how long it's taken to accumulate, so it's hard to say how much should worry you. Clean it off with brake cleaner, and keep an eye on it. Unless you have other reasons to suspect the turbo is on the way out, don't worry.

The soot is from the exhaust fed into the inlet by the EGR - which is another good reason to blank the EGR off, aside from unreliability of the valve itself. It's a good idea to clean all the crap out of the inlet manifold, when deleting flaps and blanking the EGR. But since your flaps seem to be disabled and the throat of the valve looks pretty clear of gum from what little I can see, I think you can forget about that. You'd get a better idea after removing the valve throat containing the flap (3 screws, ISTR), then you can shine a torch and see inside the manifold. It only really matters to the extent that airflow is obstructed.

It's not daft to disable the flaps, as has been done here, as long as the spindle seals aren't leaking boost. You'd likely seen more general sooty oiliness around them if they are leaking. If they're dry, it's another thing you don't need to touch. If they do leak, clean with brake cleaner and smother with silicone sealant as a repair until you take the manifold off and remove, and seal them properly with plugs or weld.

Maybe one of the glowplugs is on its way out. That might explain the slight reluctance on cyl#1. Is the smoke white? (unburned diesel). There are various ways to test, but just removing it (9mm deep socket is best) and putting across a battery should give a bright red tip within 2-3sec. A set of 4 Bosch can be had for ~£28 on eBay. Or you might need the injector testing.

Turbo whistle: Although it can indicate a damaged turbine or bearing wear, some cars just seem to do it, for years and years. It's not necessarily a fault until it resembles a police siren, by which time engine oil will be pretty obvious in the exhaust, and smoke. Keep an eye on engine oil level. It should use virtually none.

dg is spot on, that there is just a bunch of things you need to work through, and once done it's a good, reliable engine. Doing the oil cooler dodged a major bullet. Swirls and EGR seem OK. Cam belt is another grenade, usually due to waterpump failure. Alfa's original recommendation of 72k or 6 years is obsolete, a lot didn't last that long. 5yr/60k is still pushing your luck, 4yr/48k is safer - but note it really is age OR miles. Anyhow, unless you know for sure when it was last done, please don't assume... it's a pretty easy job, if you have the tools, and timing lock kit (about £20 on eBay).

What year is your car? You said it's a CF4 but it has a CF3 manifold. That might point to earlier swirl flap failure which with the metal CF4 flaps often causes bent valves. A compression test would eliminate the rather horrid possibility that the car was given a new manifold but not the head repairs.
Thanks Halftone - it sounds like many of my worries are common characteristics rather than causes for concern.

The shutoff valve loos pretty clean because I cleaned it up with injector cleaner and a toothbrush about six weeks ago, when I cleaned the EGR valve and MAP sensor. It was pretty well sooted up before.

Flap seals all look clean

I was wondering about a glow-plug being responsible for the smoke (which is white and I consider to be unburned diesel) at startup, but would this cause any other problem?

Injector no. 4 was replaced in 2013 according to the bills that came with the car.

Belt was done three years and about 35,000 miles ago, so I was planning to get it done later in the year. I'll take the opportunity to take the manifold off and give it a clean and, possibly, delete the flaps.

Car was registered in Feb 2016. I have assumed it's a CF4, but maybe I'm mistaken? RFT costs me £210 per annum and emissions according to log book are 0.214 (I assume that's grammes/KWh).
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Thanks DG,



not only is the garage no longer there - the bowling alley has also gone!



If you remember regularly seeing a black 164QV or a gold Thema 8V around when you lived in Leigh, that would have been me. I later had a black 155 with Silverstone spoiler, which would have been hard to miss.



I'll check those hoses out later. I thought the car was running a little better this morning with the new upper hose, but wouldn't draw any conclusions from my 5 mile commute.
What a shame hopefully they moved to bigger premises. They always had to shuffle cars on the street. Don't remember the 164 but was your thema gold and often in the elms car park. You might recall my motor as it was pretty unusual. Black Mazda 323 turbo 4x4. It was unfortunately but predictably stolen.

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What a shame hopefully they moved to bigger premises. They always had to shuffle cars on the street. Don't remember the 164 but was your thema gold and often in the elms car park. You might recall my motor as it was pretty unusual. Black Mazda 323 turbo 4x4. It was unfortunately but predictably stolen.

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Don't remember the Mazda I'm afraid DG. That must have been my Thema, but The Elms is a five-minute walk from home, so I wouldn't have driven there. I sold it to a friend in Queens Road, so maybe she used to drive it to The Elms.

The bowling-alley belonged to a company called Riley's who, I believe, own the snooker club in Southend. I think that, like many businesses occupying prime spots in Leigh, the value of the land grew to exceed any potential income from running a bowling alley and snooker hall. The site is currently being developed as a block of flats. Remember the garage/car wash next to The Elms? Rolls specialist behind Grand Hotel? Community Centre in Rectory Grove? Same thing with all of them.

Apologies to anyone reading this looking for insights into swirl flaps - I have drifted off topic somewhat.
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