Variator Replacement

Variator Replacement

Project Description

The workshop manual says that you will need a number of special tools. These tools are available from your dealer,
but in my experience you may have to wait for anything from 6 to 18 months, and they are expensive. Fortunately,
the job can be done without most of these tools.
The bolts on the spark plug cover, valve cover and inlet camshaft wheel are of a Torx-like type called RIBE, but a
Torx T40 bit will work equally well and is more easily available.
The more or less complete list of tools required is as follows: 

  • Cam locks for your engine type (You can lock the cams in place using small paper shimps 4 plies of 80g paper cut to size)
  • RIBE no. 7 (I think) sockets or keys OR Torx T40 (both short and long)
  • Torx T30 key or socket for variator solenoid
  • Allen keys 5 and 6 mm
  • Sockets and spanners in sizes 10, 13, 15, 19 mm (I only use six-sided sockets).
  • Torque wrench
  • A homemade tool for the variator and the camshaft pulleys (see picture below)
  • A steel pin, 8mm diameter, ca. 10 cm long (4”)
  • A bench vise
  • Thread locking compound (Loctite) medium and extra strong
  • Non-hardening gasket compound, non-silicone!


First step is to clean the engine bay.
Raise the front of the car on tripod stands and remove the right-hand front wheel.

Remove the plastic cover plate that sits in front of the crankshaft pulley.
Find the Top Dead Center mark on the crank pulley and the corresponding mark on the lower timing belt cover. Turn
the engine until the TDC marks line up (put the car in fifth and turn the brake disc to turn the engine). Remove the
oil filler cap and check that the cam lobes for cylinder 1 are pointing toward the rear of the car. If they are not, turn
the crankshaft another full turn until the timing marks line up and the cam lobes below the filler cap point
backwards. Piston 1 is now at TDC on the compression stroke. The notches on the balance shaft wheels should line
up with the marks on the engine block.

Working from the wheel arch, remove the poly-V belt. Use a 15mm spanner on the tensioner pulley bolt (see photo)
to push the tensioner back (rotate counter-clockwise), until you have enough slack to slip the belt off the PS-pump
pulley. A second pair of hands comes in handy here. Remove the belt and bin it.
Loosen the four allen bolts (6mm) holding the crankshaft poly-V belt pulley. Check that the TDC marks still line up.
Undo the four allen bolts all the way by hand. Remove the pulley.
Remove the four allen bolts that hold the lower timing belt cover and remove the cover. IMPORTANT: Mark the
crankshaft toothed pulley and the engine block with paint to make your own TDC marks.
Back at the top of the engine, remove the spark plug cover (six RIBE bolts).
Undo three allen bolts and lift up the coil pack assembly. It helps if you pull the high tension leads for the secondary
spark plugs first. Put to the side as far as the cables allow.

Pull the injector plugs and the variator solenoid plug. Unclip the plastic rail holding the cables from the fuel rail and
move the whole thing out of the way as far as possible.
Remove the allen bolts from the black plastic timing belt cover, and pull the cover upwards to remove.

Remove the belts from the engine. Undo the 10mm nut at the back of the balance shaft belt tensioner (just above the
oil filter), and remove the tensioner and the belt. Loosen the 13mm nut on the white timing belt tensioner wheel, and
slide the timing belt off of the pulleys.
Undo three allen bolts (6mm) and remove the timing belt tensioner – idler assembly.

You’re now ready to open up the engine. Undo the nine RIBE bolts and lift off the valve cover. Be careful not to damage the rubber seal. Use some tissue to
soak up the worst of the oil from the mating faces and the bearing caps. Check the camshafts for wear. The tips of the
lobes will be shiny, but any wear on the up- and downslopes is bad news. Measure the cam lobe wear  to see the camlift height

Remove the camshaft pulleys. The inlet pulley is fitted with four RIBE bolts (I used a Torx T40 socket), the exhaust
cam pulley with a 19mm bolt which is TIGHT (or should be). Use the pulley tool to keep the pulleys from turning.
Undo the four bolts (10mm) holding down the camshaft bearing end cap next to the pulleys and remove the end cap.
On these bolts I would definitely use a six-sided socket rather than the more common 12-sided tools, because the fit
on these bolt heads is quite loose. Similar for the other camshaft bearing caps. Remove the small oil seal from the
exhaust camshaft end.
IMPORTANT: Mark the inlet camshaft bearing caps (1 to 5). The numbers cast into their tops are meaningless: I
found numbers 1, 4, 2, 4 and 14 respectively. Gradually undo the bearing cap bolts, undoing all the bolts just half a
turn, then all of them another half turn, until the valves have all closed. (If you remove the bolts and caps one by one,
the force from the valve springs may lift one end of the camshaft, damaging the bearing cap on the other end.)
Remove the bearing caps.
Lift out the inlet camshaft. Clamp it in a vise with soft jaws (I used bits of wood). Using the homemade tool,
unscrew the phase variator from the camshaft. This may be very tight, as it’s loctited in place. You may need to use
heat to break the bond, but be VERY careful with this, as you don’t want to damage the surface treatment
(hardening) of the camshaft.

My manual doesn’t say anything about the variator and how to fit it, but here’s how I did it. Don’t blame me if it
doesn’t work for you.
Clean the threads in the camshaft and on the variator. Tighten with the pulley tool
(see picture above)

Now you can reassemble everything

SPECIAL NOTE (only for the mechanical minded take caution)

**** if you do not have locking tools use paper and lock the cam in place (4 pieces cut 15mm x 40mm placed on each other) put the 4 pieces of paper underneath the cam caps and tighten them slightly (+-8nm) this will lock the cam in place. With this method you will not need to remove the cam and can use the tool to remove the variator with the cam still in the engine


this article was taken from a alternative source , some text has been edited and procedures changed