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Old 04-11-2017   #16
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Re: Using MES after timing belt change (phonic wheel)

Worth mentioning to the 'experts' who charged plenty for the cambelt change..
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Old 10-11-2017   #17
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Re: Using MES after timing belt change (phonic wheel)

Quote Originally Posted by varesecrazy View Post
Worth mentioning to the 'experts' who charged plenty for the cambelt change..
Been very busy with other stuff for the last few days so haven't been thinking about the Punto. However something has happened which made me remember - The timing tool kit has arrived! Yipee! So now everything is in place to get on with my boy's car. The only fly in the ointment is that we had planned to do it during his recent leave days, that's gone now due to the delay (the order went in, via eBay, on Oct 19th. Due to abortive shipping attempts, I took delivery on the morning of 7th Nov). He works unsociable hours with very little notice of when his shift times will be so it may be a wee while before I get my hands on it which, as it's a 2012 car with about 4500 miles on it, is making me slightly twitchy!

Anyway, I've just been catching up on the thread and Charlie's post about the cost of a cambelt change set me to thinking that some of you might be interrested in the research I did whilst trying to decide whether to let a "professional" do it or do it myself. Bearing in mind I worked as a mechanic in the late '60's, '70's and '80's I was not too concerned with physically doing the job. But how did the expenses stack up? Tools and potentialy expensive parts needed to be bought and I only had my VCDS (VAG-com, as it used to be) generic scanner which I've never tried on a Fiat and anyway it wouldn't do a service reset on it let alone anything more technical. Besides, I really really would like my own Multiecuscan! So I started ringing and visiting workshops and exploring the internet possibilities. Herewith a sumation of the results:-

First off I rang a couple of large (Posh showroom type) Fiat dealer service departments:-
To renew timing belt and water pump inclusive of fluids etc. 426
Major service (special price) 169
Total cost 595
Both dealers, not surprisingly, quoted virtually identical prices. I'm not sure what the special price on the service is all about. I was offered it without asking or any particular explanation of why I qualified for it so it was probably that months "special". Stupidly didn't ask what the standard price would be! Both wanted to know why I wanted to renew the water pump. They suggested that it is often not necessary, that it would normaly be checked during the procedure and only changed if necessary! I was told it would save a worthwhile amount if it didn't need changing. Now I don't know about you, but I don't know how you can "check" an installed pump and predict that it is going to outlast the new belt which you are about to fit? On installations where the pump is part of the timing belt drive train (as it is on this Punto) I would always renew the pump. (seen too many with collapsed or seized bearings and the very annoyingly expensive results) in fact I would always renew the pump even where it wasn't an integral part of the drivetrain but was so buried on the engine that to change it would require the timing belt to be removed for access.

So, sweating at the prospect of that expense, I approached quite a few smaller independant workshops. Generally speaking they were all very friendly and prepared to talk and answer questions. (I think they were a bit surprised at this "Old Boy" who actually seemed to know what they were talking about!) As we know this family of engines turn up in quite a few makes of car and these smaller garages were all familiar with it. I chatted with most of them about how they would do the job. Nearly all said they would automatically buy a belt kit which included the water pump unless the customer specifically said they only wanted the belt fitted on it's own. Not one of them could produce a locking tool kit, although two said they could rent one from a trade source if needed (My local factor rents them out to trade sources only). Several said, however, that they've done them in the past by tipp-exing the pulleys and never had a problem. None said the cam cover needed to be removed, knew what a Phonic Wheel Relearn was, why you would want to do it, and only had generic scanners (Bosch, Snap on, etc). All considered it an "easy job" and were happy to take it on. Several were familiar enough with parts prices to quote on the spot with the others saying they would like to check the cost of the belt kit but knew they could "knock spots" off the Main Dealer price. These quotes were verbal and varied a bit so I've averaged them out for comparison:-
To renew timing belt and water pump etc. 235
Major service (There was about a 30 variation here) 185
Total cost 420

Then I looked at Multiecuscan and decided that, if I could justify it, the Multiplexed version with its bluetooth capability, single interface, multi device instalation, etc, was the one I'd like. Whilst making my mind up I pestered Mike West at Gendan on many occassions with what he probably found to be "stupid" questions. He was very patient and answered all my concerns very fully. I can strongly recommend this company. The other piece of equipment I didn't have was a kit of locking tools. There is a large selection, widely varying in price on eBay. The cheapest come from China directly, and would have saved me around 10, but I decided to buy from a British supplier as I felt that it would be easier to communicate if something went wrong (Boy was I glad!) I bought a Neilsen branded CT3395 kit and it looks robust and well finished. So here are the prices I actually bought things for:-
Multiecuscan Multiplexed version. (Don't tell the wife!) 234.95
Neilsen Timing Tool kit 45.00
Fuchs Titan 5w-40 engine oil (5 litres) 22.95
Gates Timing Belt kit (with water pump) 61.92
Air Filter 6.40
Oil Filter 2.60
Cabin Filter 4.28
Cam Cover Gasket 10.40
Spark Plugs (4 off standard type) 16.00 approx.
Antifreeze mix 10.00 approx.
Total cost 414.50

So. Wow, I can do it myself for the sort of money an independant is going to charge and end up with a set of locking tools and a multiplexed version of MES to "play" with when I've finished! So it was no contest. I ordered everything up. The only thing that fell apart was the delivery on the timing tools which took two abortive attempts and a change to another delivery service before it got to me. I live in Edinburgh and have never had a problem before so what went wrong this time? well who knows.

As a wee follow up to the main dealer recommendation it may interrest you to know that during my investigations I turned up a very nice, but overpriced, 2010 Dynamic Eco Panda - a model I'm looking for for my wife - I contacted the dealer, who was another branch of the dealer network that gave me the "Dealer price quotes" you see above to get details of service history etc and to ask if there was any proof of the cam belt having been done. Didn't know but would ring me back. 20 minutes later a phone call to tell me "Yes it has been done by us as part of the sales preparation" and was the water pump done as well? Another wait and the information that was "NO, it didn't need one"??!! Oh deary me! I despair!

Anyway folks, hope you found the above interresting. I feel I could have probably got some of these prices down by playing one against the other, especially some of the smaller workshops, but I think the above comparissons are valid and realistic. It would be interresting to know how these prices compare with other parts of the country if anyone has recently done any costing.

That's all for now folks I'll keep updating as the Punto timing belt and service work progresses. Especially the comparison I want to do between the accuracy of using the locking tools and doing it with Tipp-ex marks on the pulleys/belt/engine casings.
Please do let me know if all this is just too boring and I'll stop. In the meantime, good night, I'm off to bed!
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Old 10-11-2017   #18
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Re: Using MES after timing belt change (phonic wheel)

Quote Originally Posted by bigshineybike View Post
At last, I think mine is fixed.
In my new to Fiats opinion Italian tune up cannot be done without the Multiecuscan.

I tried that and nothing happened. So I bought the kit from Gendan following a helpful phone call. The lead and software came to around 100. (They confirmed that the OBD lead I use for my Triumph motorbike is VAGcom and so not the same chip set or something).
I did struggle setting up the laptop I wasn't reading the paperwork accurately enough beware and tread carefully. I set the com 4 port to 9600 baud, also in settings my lead was called OBD link usb/bluetooth rather than any of the other suggestions which made more sense to me.

And so with the lead connected to the car and recognised etc I was able to go into a menu which resets parameters. choose 'Phonic wheel learn' and delete the existing parameters. An instuction and warnng panel flashes on the screen describing and warning of the need for the previously spoken of Italian tune up. once we tap that button; the engine MIL lamp, the warning triangle and the stop / start lamp all began to flash.
Took the car for a drive away from neighbours and a chance to warm it up. rev the knackers off it three times holding it for a few seconds each time and then all the warning lamps went off.
I turned off the engine counted slowly to ten and took it for a test drive.
for now it all seems to be fixed.

to keep my story together here is a brief history. Fiat 500 2012 500l 8v
routine service by Alfa main dealer, they changed cam belt and told us they had detected a misfire and that we should consider a new coil pack. didn't spot the connection. In regular use the car was fine.
On the motorway some months after that service the MIL light came on. Rac called and suggested coil pack. P0300, P0304 P0301codes recorded
we swapped coil pack, plug leads spark plugs.
Came to fiatforum and heard about Phonic wheel. Bought MES software.
See above.
Hi bigshineybike. I intended to thank you, in my last post, for detailing your experience with your 500. I find it very interesting that it did not respond to the "Italian Tune Up" without any preparatory work. Having read quite a number of posts on the subject some people seem to have had success but they seem to report flashing lights etc before attempting the proceedure so maybe the ECU was already in mode to accept it? Others, with older cars, say to disconnect the battery for a while to reset it. ( I can understand that working). However on later model vehicles, like my boy's Punto, there does seem to be the need to use Multiecuscan to set the ECU up to accept the new values. I seem to have gathered though that not all engines need this reset, the 16valve engines being a case in point? Or am I mistaken? Anyway, won't be long now and I'll be discovering all about this for myself!

Interesting also to hear of the configuration problems you had (baud rates etc.) Although my Multiecuscan is successfully installed on my laptop, I haven't yet had the chance to connect to my boy's Punto as he's always working. Something to look forward to!

Not sure if I like the term Italian Tune Up? In my workshop days an Italian Tune Up would mean getting a car nicely warmed up and then driving it hard, but not dangerously, - the idea being to stress the engine so as to burn out all the gungy deposits. We did not do it often but it could work well on a vehicle that had spent it's life toddling a couple of miles down the road to the shops, sitting a while and then toddling home. Quite probably without the temp gauge even moving off it's stop! Luckily I was seldom asked to do it as the younger mechanics were always happy to oblige!
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Old 30-12-2017   #19
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Re: Using MES after timing belt change (phonic wheel)

Sitting (careful with the spelling Jock!) here on our living room couch, recovering from a spectacular dose of jippy tummy (which knocked me out the day before Christmas) with my beloved watching more programs about buying houses (is she trying to drop hints? I'm only biting if it's got a double garage - with heater!) It occurs to me to update you all on the progress, or not, regarding the cambelt change.

I'm nervously able to report that the belt is still unchanged! However I'm feeling just a little less nervous than I was because: although usually we host Christmas day, this year, for the first time ever, my older boy and his wife bravely decided to host the whole event. (wife, self, my brother, wife's sister, my daughter her husband and two kids and my younger boy, wife and daughter to say nothing of his own boy!) This all involves a lot of preparation and, luckily, whilst my boy was down here at our house, he left his car for a couple of hours whilst sorting "stuff" out with my wife. Not enough time to do the belt but plenty to do some checking.

So, off with the belt top cover. O.S.F wheel jacked clear of the ground and with top gear engaged I was able to, very slowly, walk the wheel round with my left foot whilst closely examining the whole length of the belt. I then inspected the root of the teeth in about 8 different positions, with a small magnifying glass, as this is most commonly where they crack. Luckily the belt looks in good order with no obvious defects. It also seems to be correctly tensioned and there are no untoward noises from the tensioner or water pump bearings. So, although I think it's probably the original belt, (but there are signs of white lettering on the smooth side of the belt?) and I will be changing it as soon as my boy lets me get my hands on it, I'm just a little less anxious than I was!

As I had completed this before they returned from the shops I had a quick crawl around whilst I had the jack out and was disappointed to notice, but not surprised to see, the crusty rusted condition of the sump. Hope it's not going to collapse when I stick the jack under it when I remove the mount! Think I'll drain the oil before I start just in case! Also noticed a small leak of oil from the crank pulley seal - I'll now be able to get one before I start on the belt change and just do it at the same time. The cam seal looks good with not the slightest trace of a leak.

As they still hadn't returned when I put the car back on the ground and moved it away from the standing in front of my garage so my wife could park there on her return. Perfect opportunity to try out my new toy for the first time and see if there are any DTC's stored. Fired up the laptop, plugged in my MES cantiecar interface, MES up and running - but, oh dear, connection failed! Check interface and cabling! Just at that wife returned and the boy departed with the car!

I know the MES is loaded to the laptop and I've been playing with the simulate mode quite a bit. The laptop shows the interface at COM3 and, in MES settings, I see the Cantiecar at COM3. I need to reconnect to the car and make sure the COM port is saved and the speeds are correct. I think? - Don't really know what I'm doing but it's quite fun fiddling and I suppose I'll get there in the end? Would be nice though just to go through the downloading proceedure and have it work without all this phaffing about? VAG - COM worked straight off!

Well that's the Punto Story up to date for now. Still intending to let you all know how I get on comparing timing marks by the "tipp-ex" method Vs the "timing tools" method. Lastly, can I just repeat my appeal for anyone in the Edinburgh area, who understands MES and would feel able to help if I'm unsuccessful configuring my interface, to make contact? As "Arnie" famously said, "I'll be back"! Hopefully with joyous tidings of a cambelt renewed! Happy new year, when it comes, to all.
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Old 17-10-2019   #20
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Re: Using MES after timing belt change (phonic wheel)

Quote Originally Posted by Pugglt Auld Jock View Post
Sitting (careful with the spelling Jock!) here on our living room couch, recovering from a spectacular dose of jippy tummy (which knocked me out the day before Christmas) with my beloved watching more programs about buying houses (is she trying to drop hints? I'm only biting if it's got a double garage - with heater!) It occurs to me to update you all on the progress, or not, regarding the cambelt change.

I'm nervously able to report that the belt is still unchanged! However I'm feeling just a little less nervous than I was because: although usually we host Christmas day, this year, for the first time ever, my older boy and his wife bravely decided to host the whole event. (wife, self, my brother, wife's sister, my daughter her husband and two kids and my younger boy, wife and daughter to say nothing of his own boy!) This all involves a lot of preparation and, luckily, whilst my boy was down here at our house, he left his car for a couple of hours whilst sorting "stuff" out with my wife. Not enough time to do the belt but plenty to do some checking.

So, off with the belt top cover. O.S.F wheel jacked clear of the ground and with top gear engaged I was able to, very slowly, walk the wheel round with my left foot whilst closely examining the whole length of the belt. I then inspected the root of the teeth in about 8 different positions, with a small magnifying glass, as this is most commonly where they crack. Luckily the belt looks in good order with no obvious defects. It also seems to be correctly tensioned and there are no untoward noises from the tensioner or water pump bearings. So, although I think it's probably the original belt, (but there are signs of white lettering on the smooth side of the belt?) and I will be changing it as soon as my boy lets me get my hands on it, I'm just a little less anxious than I was!

As I had completed this before they returned from the shops I had a quick crawl around whilst I had the jack out and was disappointed to notice, but not surprised to see, the crusty rusted condition of the sump. Hope it's not going to collapse when I stick the jack under it when I remove the mount! Think I'll drain the oil before I start just in case! Also noticed a small leak of oil from the crank pulley seal - I'll now be able to get one before I start on the belt change and just do it at the same time. The cam seal looks good with not the slightest trace of a leak.

As they still hadn't returned when I put the car back on the ground and moved it away from the standing in front of my garage so my wife could park there on her return. Perfect opportunity to try out my new toy for the first time and see if there are any DTC's stored. Fired up the laptop, plugged in my MES cantiecar interface, MES up and running - but, oh dear, connection failed! Check interface and cabling! Just at that wife returned and the boy departed with the car!

I know the MES is loaded to the laptop and I've been playing with the simulate mode quite a bit. The laptop shows the interface at COM3 and, in MES settings, I see the Cantiecar at COM3. I need to reconnect to the car and make sure the COM port is saved and the speeds are correct. I think? - Don't really know what I'm doing but it's quite fun fiddling and I suppose I'll get there in the end? Would be nice though just to go through the downloading proceedure and have it work without all this phaffing about? VAG - COM worked straight off!

Well that's the Punto Story up to date for now. Still intending to let you all know how I get on comparing timing marks by the "tipp-ex" method Vs the "timing tools" method. Lastly, can I just repeat my appeal for anyone in the Edinburgh area, who understands MES and would feel able to help if I'm unsuccessful configuring my interface, to make contact? As "Arnie" famously said, "I'll be back"! Hopefully with joyous tidings of a cambelt renewed! Happy new year, when it comes, to all.
Hey Jock. Just a quick one. In the end with your sons punto. Did you find the manual phobic relearn worked or did you need to use scan tool?
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #21
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Re: Using MES after timing belt change (phonic wheel)

Oh dear, sorry, I did say I'd be back with more on this didn't I?

First thing I should say is that I found MES nothing like as easy to get working as my other program - VCDS, or VAG-COM (for my SEAT/SKODA vehicles) as it was called when I bought it - The VAG-COM was a matter of simply uploading and away I went. With MES you have to tell the computer how to communicate with its interface. I won't go into the fine details but I would say that the biggest thing to do is read the installation instructions very carefully and if you still can't get it to "go" there are many on here who can, and will, help also lots of "stuff" on line. The MES is not as "powerful" a tool as VAG-COM but probably lets you do pretty much anything the home mechanic might want to do and is considerably easier to use than the VAG-COM is

So now, how did all this "Phobic" learning stuff go? (I just love your, I presume unintentional, slip which turned "Phonic" into "Phobic". In my opinion most appropriately)

I finally got round to actually doing the belts on our Panda and my boy's Punto in June 2018 and I made several posts about it all at the time. I did the Panda first with the Punto just a week or so later. Both engines are 8 valve but the Panda has a solid cam sprocket whereas the Punto's is the VVT type. Although I've done many many cam belts I'd never before done one with a VVT pulley and there were aspects of it I was worried about (as it turned out needlessly- it was no more complicated to do than the solid sprocket) As both engines are virtually identical in every other respect, I decided to do the Panda first.

I'd read accounts of how tight this bolt is and the trials and tribulations some people have had undoing and then retightening them. So I bought the Haynes manuals for both cars and noticed that they were both recommending that this sprocket bolt be slackened. I had read of this becoming a quite common feature of more modern engines but hadn't done one yet - so more uncertainty and and "worry" in my mind. Then I started really thinking about this. Looking at the older cars I typically work on, the crankshaft and camshaft sprockets are typically located to their shafts with a key and slot of some sort (as in woodruff key) so the relationship between the sprocket and shaft is "fixed". Having built up a small number of engines where maximum performance was the aim I have "dialled in" performance cams using offset keys/dowels to get things absolutely perfectly aligned. Having a cam sprocket that can be tightened up in an infinitely variable number of positions would allow the same degree (pun not intended!) of accuracy, but for a standard "road" engine? I don't think you really need this. Arguably diesels are a wee bit different kettle of fish but these are really quite basic petrol engines in our cars. I briefly wondered if it was because of manufacturing differences in the belts but,from all I've been able to read about them these belts are manufactured to a very high degree of accuracy so I doubt if that's the reason. Accounts I've read detail how it's more difficult to fit the belt without slackening this bolt as the belt is difficult to get over the teeth with both sprockets (cam and crankshaft) locked? Ok, I've had that in the past and it's not proved insurmountable. So I checked the Haynes manuals and the torque figure for the bolts are indeed "tight" (by the way, Haynes quote 120 nm for your 16 valve engine). I would reiterate the advice to be very careful not to snap the locking tool - which might well result in damage to the cam too.

I've learned in the past that tight bolts seem to "grow" together with the component they are fixed to so undoing then invariably takes quite a lot more force than their quoted tightening figure. So, if I'm going to be undoing these I'm betting they are going to put up a fair fight - as confirmed by many posts I've read. Then, because I was reading lots of "stuff" about doing cam belts on these engines, I started picking up on the phonic wheel "thing". So what is it? Well, I think you probably know this but for those who are not so enlightened, the crankshaft pulley (the one that drives the fan belt) has "teeth" all round the outside of it and a sensor which sits opposite them on the front of the engine. This type of pulley is called a "Phonic Wheel" and, together with the sensor signal, allows the ECU to know exactly where the pistons are on their strokes. (Fiat seem to also call ABS sensors "Phonic" - same principal I suppose?) The cam has a similar set up which allows the ECU to decide which cylinder to send the spark to (remember the crank rotates twice for every one rev of the cam so the crank sensor can't sort out which cylinder to fire all on its own) Oh well, all right, you can have wasted spark designs which do this but let's keep it simple.

Anyway, What's this Phonic wheel problem all about? Well, the ECU learns (is taught by a Phonic Wheel learn) the relationship between the crankshaft position and camshaft position sensor signals. So, for instance, as the Phonic wheel on the crank causes it's sensor to send the signal (caused by a tooth variation on the wheel) which indicates TDC to the ECU, it - the ECU - will expect to be seeing a corresponding signal from the cam sensor. If that signal arrives at a different relative time (number of degrees of crank revolution) to what it's expecting - and, apparently only a very small variation is needed - it will flag up a DTC (diagnostic trouble code) and illuminate the EML (engine management light) on the dashboard. By the way, people report that when you interrogate the ECU (read the codes) you will often find a diagnosis of "missfire" recorded which can lead you off on a merry, and expensive, wild goose chase!

So, I was thinking, if you slacken that cam sprocket bolt I'm guessing you're very unlikely to be retightening it with the pulley in exactly the same position relative to the cam itself? This may be why the Phonic wheel relearn is said to often be needed? Then, when asking around, I found most of the small workshops I was speaking to, but not all, said they would not slacken that bolt and were not aware of any problems caused.

I thought about all this for quite a while before getting stuck into Becky I could find no info that her belt had ever been done (and later, when dismantling the old belt I became even more sure that this was her first belt since new) and decided to buy the timing tools, use them to check the position of the crank/camshaft before dismantling the belt and then checking the whole lot again after reassembly but to actually do the belt change by the "tippex" method (which is all detailed in those posts) and NOT slacken the sprocket bolt. (I'm a great believer in letting "sleeping dogs lie") My thinking being that the new belt would be, effectively, identical to the one I was taking off and so the only thing which might cause a variation in relative sensor signal would be wear in the old belt compared to the new and I think that would be negligible (the old belt was a genuine Fiat/Lancia belt and I used one of my favourite "Gates" kits.

Doing the actual job only really threw up two problems. First off was getting the engine mounting block off the front of the engine due to the lower two bolts being quite difficult to access. But this was just a simple access "ingenuity" problem which is faced in many different aspects in many different vehicles so solvable with thought and the right tools. The other was that the new cam belt didn't want to go over the cam sprocket teeth. I should explain that I decided to leave the timing tools in place - they had dropped into place very easily which indicated that the timing was correct to start with - even though I didn't slacken the cam sprocket bolt "just in case" and with the two pulleys effectively locked to the engine I just couldn't get the belt teeth over the sprocket teeth! This would not have been a problem if that bolt were slackened because the pulley would be free to turn on the end of the camshaft, but the problem was very simply solved by removing the single locking screw form the end of the crank locking tool and turning the crankshaft back by about half a tooth. The belt then slipped on very easily. When the job was finished, after several rotations of the engine and with the tensioner correctly set, I rechecked the timing by reinstalling the crank and cam locking tools. They just slid into place very nicely indicating that the relative crank/cam positions were spot on. The car's now been running since then, June 2018, without any indication of a problem. ie. no EML and running well. It runs around the town and goes out into Midlothian on the bypass and country roads and all is well. I mention this because people report that their EML didn't start flashing, after a cam belt replacement, until the first time they took a trip on a "fast" road. I'm guessing the ECU needs to see the signals generated at higher revs for a short sustained time for it to register?

The story with the Punto is effectively identical but, although I checked the timing with the tools before I started I actually left them off whilst changing the belt then rechecked again when I'd finished. I wondered if the variator sprocket on the cam would be a problem because I didn't really know at that time what was going on inside it and wondered if backlash might be introduced when oil pressure wasn't acting on it? However it's obvious that it has a strong spring inside it which holds the outer and inner sprocket parts in a resting position. So, from the point of view of doing this job the two sprocket designs behave the same - the VVT sprocket can be treated as if it's solid. The Punto does much more driving on the city bypass than our wee Becky so, if there was a problem with this method, might be expected to have flashed up a problem more quickly?

So, based on my experience with both these engines, I would say that you can do the job without slackening the cam sprocket bolt. However I don't think you should do it without the tools as you need to check, using the tools, "just to be sure". Without the tools you are relying on the pulley having been tightened in the right position by whoever did it before you. If this is it's first belt change since new then you're probably pretty safe - Hopefully the factory got it right after all! - but if it's an older car, where maybe someone less diligent has been in there before you, the timing could well be out. If a Phonic wheel relearn was then performed with this (perhaps "almost right" setup) the ECU would assume that things were all right so wouldn't be flagging up the EML but you would be loosing performance and fuel consumption etc.

Wow! think that could be my longest one off post? So, in the end, yes I got the MES working by going back - about 3 times at least - over the installation instructions and properly understanding what was required. Once installed correctly it's been a breeze to use. I didn't need to do a Phonic wheel relearn on either vehicle because the EML never lit off and the cars are running as well as ever. My overall conclusion must be that slackening that bolt is recommended because it will ensure that every time the job is done the timing will end up spot on when you've finished but the accuracy with which modern belts are made means that you really can do it by the tippex method with confidence AS LONG AS NO-ONE HAS MESSED IT UP AT THE LAST CHANGE. So, if it's an engine you're not familiar with you're going to need the timing tools.

Hope you haven't fallen asleep or slit you throat by now? I remember being quite unsure about all this when I first heard about a Phonic Wheel Relearn but it turns out to be a quite simple procedure if needed - Download the free version of MES, Find your vehicle in the list of models and run it in Simulate mode. Not all models even need a Phonic wheel relearn! Trying the simulation for your model will quickly reveal this because if it's not needed it won't even appear as an option!

Have fun and good luck.
Jock

PS I check my laptop most mornings and evenings so feel free to ask questions or PM me if you want.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #22
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Re: Using MES after timing belt change (phonic wheel)

Oh dear, sorry, I did say I'd be back with more on this didn't I?

First thing I should say is that I found MES nothing like as easy to get working as my other program - VCDS, or VAG-COM (for my SEAT/SKODA vehicles) as it was called when I bought it - The VAG-COM was a matter of simply uploading and away I went. With MES you have to tell the computer how to communicate with its interface. I won't go into the fine details but I would say that the biggest thing to do is read the installation instructions very carefully and if you still can't get it to "go" there are many on here who can, and will, help also lots of "stuff" on line. The MES is not as "powerful" a tool as VAG-COM but probably lets you do pretty much anything the home mechanic might want to do and is considerably easier to use than the VAG-COM is

So now, how did all this "Phobic" learning stuff go? (I just love your, I presume unintentional, slip which turned "Phonic" into "Phobic". In my opinion most appropriately)

I finally got round to actually doing the belts on our Panda and my boy's Punto in June 2018 and I made several posts about it all at the time. I did the Panda first with the Punto just a week or so later. Both engines are 8 valve but the Panda has a solid cam sprocket whereas the Punto's is the VVT type. Although I've done many many cam belts I'd never before done one with a VVT pulley and there were aspects of it I was worried about (as it turned out needlessly- it was no more complicated to do than the solid sprocket) As both engines are virtually identical in every other respect, I decided to do the Panda first.

I'd read accounts of how tight this bolt is and the trials and tribulations some people have had undoing and then retightening them. So I bought the Haynes manuals for both cars and noticed that they were both recommending that this sprocket bolt be slackened. I had read of this becoming a quite common feature of more modern engines but hadn't done one yet - so more uncertainty and and "worry" in my mind. Then I started really thinking about this. Looking at the older cars I typically work on, the crankshaft and camshaft sprockets are typically located to their shafts with a key and slot of some sort (as in woodruff key) so the relationship between the sprocket and shaft is "fixed". Having built up a small number of engines where maximum performance was the aim I have "dialled in" performance cams using offset keys/dowels to get things absolutely perfectly aligned. Having a cam sprocket that can be tightened up in an infinitely variable number of positions would allow the same degree (pun not intended!) of accuracy, but for a standard "road" engine? I don't think you really need this. Arguably diesels are a wee bit different kettle of fish but these are really quite basic petrol engines in our cars. I briefly wondered if it was because of manufacturing differences in the belts but,from all I've been able to read about them these belts are manufactured to a very high degree of accuracy so I doubt if that's the reason. Accounts I've read detail how it's more difficult to fit the belt without slackening this bolt as the belt is difficult to get over the teeth with both sprockets (cam and crankshaft) locked? Ok, I've had that in the past and it's not proved insurmountable. So I checked the Haynes manuals and the torque figure for the bolts are indeed "tight" (by the way, Haynes quote 120 nm for your 16 valve engine). I would reiterate the advice to be very careful not to snap the locking tool - which might well result in damage to the cam too.

I've learned in the past that tight bolts seem to "grow" together with the component they are fixed to so undoing then invariably takes quite a lot more force than their quoted tightening figure. So, if I'm going to be undoing these I'm betting they are going to put up a fair fight - as confirmed by many posts I've read. Then, because I was reading lots of "stuff" about doing cam belts on these engines, I started picking up on the phonic wheel "thing". So what is it? Well, I think you probably know this but for those who are not so enlightened, the crankshaft pulley (the one that drives the fan belt) has "teeth" all round the outside of it and a sensor which sits opposite them on the front of the engine. This type of pulley is called a "Phonic Wheel" and, together with the sensor signal, allows the ECU to know exactly where the pistons are on their strokes. (Fiat seem to also call ABS sensors "Phonic" - same principal I suppose?) The cam has a similar set up which allows the ECU to decide which cylinder to send the spark to (remember the crank rotates twice for every one rev of the cam so the crank sensor can't sort out which cylinder to fire all on its own) Oh well, all right, you can have wasted spark designs which do this but let's keep it simple.

Anyway, What's this Phonic wheel problem all about? Well, the ECU learns (is taught by a Phonic Wheel learn) the relationship between the crankshaft position and camshaft position sensor signals. So, for instance, as the Phonic wheel on the crank causes it's sensor to send the signal (caused by a tooth variation on the wheel) which indicates TDC to the ECU, it - the ECU - will expect to be seeing a corresponding signal from the cam sensor. If that signal arrives at a different relative time (number of degrees of crank revolution) to what it's expecting - and, apparently only a very small variation is needed - it will flag up a DTC (diagnostic trouble code) and illuminate the EML (engine management light) on the dashboard. By the way, people report that when you interrogate the ECU (read the codes) you will often find a diagnosis of "missfire" recorded which can lead you off on a merry, and expensive, wild goose chase!

So, I was thinking, if you slacken that cam sprocket bolt I'm guessing you're very unlikely to be retightening it with the pulley in exactly the same position relative to the cam itself? This may be why the Phonic wheel relearn is said to often be needed? Then, when asking around, I found most of the small workshops I was speaking to, but not all, said they would not slacken that bolt and were not aware of any problems caused.

I thought about all this for quite a while before getting stuck into Becky I could find no info that her belt had ever been done (and later, when dismantling the old belt I became even more sure that this was her first belt since new) and decided to buy the timing tools, use them to check the position of the crank/camshaft before dismantling the belt and then checking the whole lot again after reassembly but to actually do the belt change by the "tippex" method (which is all detailed in those posts) and NOT slacken the sprocket bolt. (I'm a great believer in letting "sleeping dogs lie") My thinking being that the new belt would be, effectively, identical to the one I was taking off and so the only thing which might cause a variation in relative sensor signal would be wear in the old belt compared to the new and I think that would be negligible (the old belt was a genuine Fiat/Lancia belt and I used one of my favourite "Gates" kits.

Doing the actual job only really threw up two problems. First off was getting the engine mounting block off the front of the engine due to the lower two bolts being quite difficult to access. But this was just a simple access "ingenuity" problem which is faced in many different aspects in many different vehicles so solvable with thought and the right tools. The other was that the new cam belt didn't want to go over the cam sprocket teeth. I should explain that I decided to leave the timing tools in place - they had dropped into place very easily which indicated that the timing was correct to start with - even though I didn't slacken the cam sprocket bolt "just in case" and with the two pulleys effectively locked to the engine I just couldn't get the belt teeth over the sprocket teeth! This would not have been a problem if that bolt were slackened because the pulley would be free to turn on the end of the camshaft, but the problem was very simply solved by removing the single locking screw form the end of the crank locking tool and turning the crankshaft back by about half a tooth. The belt then slipped on very easily. When the job was finished, after several rotations of the engine and with the tensioner correctly set, I rechecked the timing by reinstalling the crank and cam locking tools. They just slid into place very nicely indicating that the relative crank/cam positions were spot on. The car's now been running since then, June 2018, without any indication of a problem. ie. no EML and running well. It runs around the town and goes out into Midlothian on the bypass and country roads and all is well. I mention this because people report that their EML didn't start flashing, after a cam belt replacement, until the first time they took a trip on a "fast" road. I'm guessing the ECU needs to see the signals generated at higher revs for a short sustained time for it to register?

The story with the Punto is effectively identical but, although I checked the timing with the tools before I started I actually left them off whilst changing the belt then rechecked again when I'd finished. I wondered if the variator sprocket on the cam would be a problem because I didn't really know at that time what was going on inside it and wondered if backlash might be introduced when oil pressure wasn't acting on it? However it's obvious that it has a strong spring inside it which holds the outer and inner sprocket parts in a resting position. So, from the point of view of doing this job the two sprocket designs behave the same - the VVT sprocket can be treated as if it's solid. The Punto does much more driving on the city bypass than our wee Becky so, if there was a problem with this method, might be expected to have flashed up a problem more quickly?

So, based on my experience with both these engines, I would say that you can do the job without slackening the cam sprocket bolt. However I don't think you should do it without the tools as you need to check, using the tools, "just to be sure". Without the tools you are relying on the pulley having been tightened in the right position by whoever did it before you. If this is it's first belt change since new then you're probably pretty safe - Hopefully the factory got it right after all! - but if it's an older car, where maybe someone less diligent has been in there before you, the timing could well be out. If a Phonic wheel relearn was then performed with this (perhaps "almost right" setup) the ECU would assume that things were all right so wouldn't be flagging up the EML but you would be loosing performance and fuel consumption etc.

Wow! think that could be my longest one off post? So, in the end, yes I got the MES working by going back - about 3 times at least - over the installation instructions and properly understanding what was required. Once installed correctly it's been a breeze to use. I didn't need to do a Phonic wheel relearn on either vehicle because the EML never lit off and the cars are running as well as ever. My overall conclusion must be that slackening that bolt is recommended because it will ensure that every time the job is done the timing will end up spot on when you've finished but the accuracy with which modern belts are made means that you really can do it by the tippex method with confidence AS LONG AS NO-ONE HAS MESSED IT UP AT THE LAST CHANGE. So, if it's an engine you're not familiar with you're going to need the timing tools.

Hope you haven't fallen asleep or slit you throat by now? I remember being quite unsure about all this when I first heard about a Phonic Wheel Relearn but it turns out to be a quite simple procedure if needed - Download the free version of MES, Find your vehicle in the list of models and run it in Simulate mode. Not all models even need a Phonic wheel relearn! Trying the simulation for your model will quickly reveal this because if it's not needed it won't even appear as an option!

Have fun and good luck.
Jock

PS I check my laptop most mornings and evenings so feel free to ask questions or PM me if you want.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #23
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Re: Using MES after timing belt change (phonic wheel)

ooooops! why did that post a duplicate? probably something "silly" I did. Sorry folks.
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Old 4 Weeks Ago   #24
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Quote Originally Posted by Pugglt Auld Jock View Post
ooooops! why did that post a duplicate? probably something "silly" I did. Sorry folks.
It happens occasionally..
I usually notice 5 mins after.. so I can delete all the duplicated stuff.

Sometimes replacing with an afterthought.. or a useful web link.

There IS an option of contacting a moderator.. but I dont often go down that route..

Did have a reasonable 'faux pas' where a mod messaged me that I had quoted an entire thread.. which they had rightly deleted

Charlie
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