Variator solenoid fiy repair guide - Alfa Romeo Forum
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Variator solenoid fiy repair guide

This is a repair guide for "version 1" (not for "version 2") of the VARIATOR SOLENOID (a.k.a. variator actuator or variator control valve) on CF2 and CF3 (plastic cover) Twin Spark engines.

- If you get a P1653 fault code, you better check your VARIATOR SOLENOID before anything else.
- This part is located under the engine cover, between injectors 1 and 2, fixed with 2 Torx T30 bolts to the engine.
- Unplug it first, and check resistance between the 2 terminals. You should get about 12 Ohms reading. If you don't get any reading, then you can attempt the following repair.
- It's completely safe to drive with a faulty VARIATOR SOLENOID, but will take you considerable extra horse power.
- More than the Twin Spark technology, this is where most of the extra italian horses come from. This is the engine component that engages the Phase Variator.

TOOLS NEEDED:

- T30 and T40 torx keys;
- Philips screw driver;
- Multimeter with leads;
- Soldering iron;
- Electronic soldering mass;
- Optional: silicone sealant or equivalent and a 12V above 1A output power source.

PROCEDURE:

1. Unscrew the 4 T40 bolts and remove engine cover.
2. Unscrew the 2 T30 bolts that are fixing the VARIATOR SOLENOID to the engine.
3. Check reading on terminals (pic 1). On this one you are getting none.
4. Unscrew the 2 philips screws on top and remove de cap.
5. Check resistance again between the two metal pins (pic 2). You should get a reading now around 12 Ohms.
6. Put cap back on place.
7. With a bit of soldering mass and a soldering iron, melt the two metal bits on top of the cap (pics 3 and 4). This will provide electric contact with the pins underneath.
8. Check resistance again on terminals. You should get a reading now (pic 5).
9. You can test it with a power supply. Plug it to the SOLENOID VARIATOR terminals. A tiny metal piece should quickly pop out, meaning that it is working (pic 6). You can also do this check using your Alfa Romeo battery if you don't have a 12V power supply.
10. Put all back together.
11. Enjoy the ride!

- I also got the chance to add some sealant to the gasket around the Valve (pic 7), as these are known for leaking engine oil and getting your engine top all dirty. Added to the top of the gasket, as it is where it appears to crack and the oil gets spilled out. This glue is becoming handy in a lot of repairs...
- There's another version of the VARIATOR SOLENOID, I call it "version 2" (pic 8), but it's unrepairable.
- On CF1 engines (metal cover) this repair is more difficult. The engine cover does not allow you to take off all the bolts that fix the VARIATOR SOLENOID, or it is too bloody difficult to fit a proper tool to remove them. I also own a CF1 engined 146, and I can confirm this. Read on the web that is needed to take off the rocker cover to remove the part in question.
- Beware that both versions of the VARIATOR SOLENOID fit on every Twin Spark engine, but the metal plates supporting it are not interchangeable (pic 9 – V1, pic 10 – V2). Most of the parts sold on ebay are incomplete and some of them are missing this metal plate. So, if you buy it on ebay, make sure you are buying your version or it comes with the metal plate included.

CREDITS:
- Old Smaky's posts on P1653 fault code;
- Anonymous ebay seller, who sold me a faulty and incomplete but repairable "version 1" of the VARIATOR SOLENOID;
- My dear fiancée, who shot one of the photos.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg pic1.JPG (44.8 KB, 120 views)
File Type: jpg pic2.JPG (55.2 KB, 109 views)
File Type: jpg pic3.JPG (40.9 KB, 104 views)
File Type: jpg pic4.JPG (37.3 KB, 103 views)
File Type: jpg pic5.JPG (63.5 KB, 95 views)
File Type: jpg pic6.JPG (44.8 KB, 91 views)
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(Post Link) post #2 of 5 Old 26-10-13 Thread Starter
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(Post Link) post #3 of 5 Old 28-08-15 Thread Starter
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Update. p1653 fault code returned intermittently. opted to completely remove the soldier caps on top of the solenoid, rubbed a bit to remove oxidized metal, and soldered all back together. no problems now. sorry, forgot to take pictures...
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This is a very good guide for a problem that may well exist for many of us without us knowing.
Mine was not working - no error codes and no real indication except that engine performance was like an ordinary car.
I've just dismantled & re-soldered my variator solenoid. One pin had had a bad solder joint (heat & vibration on solder is not good). The bad pin had oxidised badly over the time it was faulty and wouldn't tin without a lot of cleaning with fine wet & dry paper.
Don't pay much attention to ohmmeter readings, a cracked solder joint can register an ohm or two for the fraction of a milliamp that the meter passes through it but go open circuit when vibrated or heated by the larger operating current.
Mine measured 14 ohms in its faulty state and 12.3 ohms when fixed. However a 6v lantern battery produced no activation but some small sparks at the contacts showing there was some connection. After re-soldering, the same battery caused a nice clunk and the pin operated well. This voltage test is the best way to see if it's working.
The power increase over 2000rpm is quite a nice surprise!

Last edited by Rod Duggan; 23-08-16 at 11:58.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rod Duggan View Post
Mine measured 14 ohms in its faulty state and 12.3 ohms when fixed. However a 6v lantern battery produced no activation but some small sparks at the contacts showing there was some connection. After re-soldering, the same battery caused a nice clunk and the pin operated well. This voltage test is the best way to see if it's working.
the multimeter I used isn't that good... adds about 2-3 ohm when reading resistance.
I used a 12V power supply to test the solenoid. Also, you can can link it directly to the cars battery. but nice to know 6V is enough.
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