Variator sound - Alfa Romeo Forum
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Variator sound

Can anyone explain what exactly makes the famous faulty variator sound with TS engines?
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I think there's an internal piston that's held under tension between a spring and a washer. The washer transfers the force from the piston to the cam advance, so in time, both it and the piston get worn away (hence keeping the oil level at "Max" helps reduce variator wear).

As the moving parts wear out, the piston is not held tightly against the washer and can slap it when the cam phase is not advanced (as at idle)...

The cheapest fix is to replace the piston, spring and washer. Alfa sells a variator repair kit and there is a link on here somewhere that describes how to apply it. But it's a little fiddly and time-consuming (relatively speaking) so the "easy" fix (so most people then) is to just change the whole variator.


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Last edited by Ralf S.; 02-01-13 at 12:40.
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Excellent post by Ralf.
The only people that appear to actually try the variator parts renewel are those that DIY their cambelts. As its a cambelt off job the majority of people will wait till they need a major service and have it thrown in with the change.

I currently have a spare one thats sat on my old 1.6 camshafts if you need one. Its fully working but has done 50'000 miles. Still works well but It may only last another 25k. The general consensus seems to be these appear to last around the 75K mark.
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Am i right in thinking no damage/loss of performance etc is caused by the rattling variator? Mine rattles sometimes for 5 secs or so after startup, less so when the oil level is at max or from cold
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Means its on its way out.
It will not harm your car mechanically. But you will lose power. As it can no longer change the overlap that the variator affects. It stays in the closed position. So between certain rev's the engine will make less power. Kind of like the TS engine without variator (In standard 1.6 form it makes around 105hp) The phase change allows for additional power to be created.

Last edited by scottyf; 02-01-13 at 16:06. Reason: spelling
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I have successfully (still silent 8,000 miles later) repaired a variator with an Ebay kit. There is a plastic washer with a champher and that champer becomes a step. The repair kit consists of just the washer and spring.

It is a VERY fiddly repair to do and the parts don't go back together how you would expect so if you DIY look VERY VERY VERY carefully at the alighment of the two gears as it comes apart.

Also in stating that I did it myself it was with a cambelt change and I was too short of cash to buy a variator as well as all the parts and tools for the belt change. It should also be noted that my rattle was only on initial start up and only lasted for 2 - 3 seconds at the most. So while my repair has been succesful if yours is worse than this a repair kit may not be the cure.

Some have asked, "what if it sdtarts to rattle again soon?" My reply is with a cambelt change required every 36,000 or 3 years that rattle can safely wait until the next belt change as a rattling variator, while annoying, is not going to jeapordise relaibility.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottyf View Post
Means its on its way out.
It will not harm your car mechanically. But you will lose power. As it can no longer change the overlap that the variator affects. It stays in the closed position. So between certain rev's the engine will make less power. Kind of like the TS engine without variator (In standard 1.6 form it makes around 105hp) The phase change allows for additional power to be created.
There is a definite power surge at about 3500 revs, bit like a turbo, as i said the 'diesel' sound only happens sometimes...would 10w-60 oil prolong it's life til i change the cambelt in 10000 miles or so?
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The cam variator gives some valve overlap at medium engine speeds to increase mid-range torque.

If the variator isn't working you will get a noticeable power step at higher RPM. This is due to the fact that you have lost the mid-range torque, and the engine coming on cam at higher is more noticeable.

On the 105bhp 1.6 the engine has more conservative cam profiles to give more mid-range torque without the variator. This in turn makes the top end power less.


Hope that makes sense.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scottyf View Post
Excellent post by Ralf.
The only people that appear to actually try the variator parts renewel are those that DIY their cambelts. As its a cambelt off job the majority of people will wait till they need a major service and have it thrown in with the change.

I currently have a spare one thats sat on my old 1.6 camshafts if you need one. Its fully working but has done 50'000 miles. Still works well but It may only last another 25k. The general consensus seems to be these appear to last around the 75K mark.
Thanks for the offer, but I'm not sure replacing a worn variator with a used one is a good idea, the one that's in the engine now was fine (but was luod for 2 secs on startup) until we did an engine rebuild, after startup for the first time it started to rattle and hasn't gone silent since (only in mid range revs). Will just have to buy a new and improved one and hope that it last for a couple of years/miles.

This one lasted for 70k - as was expected, I guess
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