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Discussion Starter #1
My '05 104k miles 166 2.0TS has had a knackered variator (I think) for a while now - classic diesel rattle / noise on start-up etc. However, things have certainly turned worse - it's being getting ever noisier & driving home this evening there's suddenly no power, noise is more like a ball-bearing in a can (though not knocking as such) & feels horrible like it's running on 3 cylinders chugging & vibrating away. Pretty bad pulsing resonance through the accelerator & steering wheel as well. Just about made it home. It's worse at low speeds / revs / idle.

I had it booked-in to Autolusso Penrith early next week but I fear it won't make it there unless on the back of a tow-truck which will cost me a fortune.

Any clues???? Should I risk driving it up there? It runs fine on the motorway, until this evening.
 

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My '05 104k miles 166 2.0TS has had a knackered variator (I think) for a while now - classic diesel rattle / noise on start-up etc. However, things have certainly turned worse - it's being getting ever noisier & driving home this evening there's suddenly no power, noise is more like a ball-bearing in a can (though not knocking as such) & feels horrible like it's running on 3 cylinders chugging & vibrating away. Pretty bad pulsing resonance through the accelerator & steering wheel as well. Just about made it home. It's worse at low speeds / revs / idle.

I had it booked-in to Autolusso Penrith early next week but I fear it won't make it there unless on the back of a tow-truck which will cost me a fortune.

Any clues???? Should I risk driving it up there? It runs fine on the motorway, until this evening.
Not sure a variator equates to a death rattle or would cause those particular symptoms?
+1 on the tow truck.
Could be a few things (coil packs, bottom end gone - until it's properly diagnosed you're not doing yourself any favours)
All the best with it
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Not sure a variator equates to a death rattle or would cause those particular symptoms?
+1 on the tow truck.
Could be a few things (coil packs, bottom end gone - until it's properly diagnosed you're not doing yourself any favours)
All the best with it
Cheers. It's getting towed up to Autolusso Penrith in the morning. Praying it's not terminal / will cost £1000's / new engine - I've really connected with my 166.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Yep, picked it up yesterday. Gotta say hats-off to Dan at Autolusso Penrith for going above & beyond to get it done ASAP, and picking me up from Station etc.

Anyway, he found that:

"...aux belt damaged & the balance belt tensioner had collapsed & the outer bearing shield had fallen into the belt (hence one of the dreadful rackets!) causing damage to both the cambelt & balance belts, which were still in-tact. With the balance belt & aux belt removed most of the noises had gone". Also there was lots of debris around & oil was in the spark plugs. A bit of a mess by all accounts. Lucky I stopped driving it when I did as it could've been catastrophic.

So.... they replaced the cambelt, tensioner, idler, waterpump, new variatior (which was noisy & knackered anyway), new spark plugs, aux drive belt, aux drive belt tensioner etc. They also did a compression test (all-good) & checked both the camshaft and exhaust cam timing which was way-out so they sorted that as well. It's cost me to the tune of £770.00 all-in, pretty-much what they forecasted initially anyway (plus £160 for my local mechanic to tow it there). And it is a lot better, though still a bit tappety esp on start-up (again, Dan said he wasn't 100% happy with the noise but without doing a complete strip-down etc it's so hard to pin-point it). On his advice they also left-off the balance belt (???) which he said he's done in the past on the TS engines as it gets rid of one potential source of problems. I have found it is running a bit rougher / more vibration without it (which he did warn may happen a bit) so not sure if I might have it put back on. I do miss that smoothness. It's also lost a bit of poke / responsiveness compared to before. It's still pretty lumpy on tick-over (intermittent, weirdly enough). Anyway, they've done what they can so we'll just have to wait & see if it's OK. They weren't promising perfection which I totally get without a complete engine strip / spending lots more.

I've done about 200 miles today & so far so good. Great to get it back!
 

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Great that it lives on!
I would have thoughts the balance belt deletion would cause the rougher running but would give a few extra horses?
 

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Great that it lives on!
I would have thoughts the balance belt deletion would cause the rougher running but would give a few extra horses?
The balance belt doesn't affect the running of the engine, but it is there for creating vibrations in the opposite direction from the vibrations created by the engine's normal running, so there is less total forces transmitted through the engine mounts into the car.. Without the balance belt you can potentially feel more of the vibration in the cabin, and a balance belt will somewhat mask an engine that isn't running in tip-top condition, for example you might not feel it if a cylinder isn't firing as well as all the rest if the balance belt is on, but you'll definitely feel it with the belt off. In my 156 2.0 TS when I removed the balance belt, I also removed the 1.4kg bottom pulley and replaced it with a 300g billet alloy one. Any slight roughness in that engine was transmitted through to the cabin, but when it was running perfectly there was no more vibration than before, even driving up an incline in 2nd gear at very low revs it would pull cleanly, with no vibration. The balance belt absorbs approx 7hp when the engine is running at 6,500rpm, I certainly noticed my 156 was a lot nippier in 1st & 2nd gear without it on, but then I did lose 1.1kg of rotating mass from the engine by swapping the aux driving pulley too. The balance shafts turn at twice the rpm that the crank does, so they'll be spinning at 14,000rpm when the engine is at max revs!

One of the best things about not having a balance belt fitted is that they can't commit hari-kari and take the cambelt out with them like in this case. It'd be better if the balance belt was external of the cambelt covers, but unfortunately it isn't.

The owner here is in a difficult position - if he'd driven a couple of hundred more miles in the car, it would have properly failed, bent all the valves and needed a proper head-off rebuild, at the very least. As it is, given how far out the exhaust cam was I would say some of the noise we were hearing was probably very slight contact in the engine, but with the timing back to factory positions it is giving good even compression so we can at least say there aren't any bent valves. But whether this incident has caused any damage, which might surface in the future, we don't really know without pulling it apart.
 
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Very helpful post Dan(?)
Delighted that you guys saved this precious 166
 

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Some photos:

'fluff' from damaged cambelt & balance belt on the side of the engine

Internals of the balance belt tensioner visible as the external cover has fallen off, one ball bearing missing.

Remains of the balance belt tensioner's bearing cover after being chewed up between the cambelt/balance belt and the crank pulleys

Engine at TDC, inlet cam slightly out (could have been like this since last belt change, as it was a tippex job)

Exhaust cam a mile out - it has clearly jumped. And silicone everywhere from re-using of the previous rocker cover gasket.
 

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