VVT Rattles in Holden 1.8L Z18XER & F18D4

Author: ETP Engine Parts   Date Posted:13 December 2019 

VVT Rattles in Holden 1.8L Z18XER & F18D4 main image VVT Rattles in Holden 1.8L Z18XER & F18D4 image

Holden 1.8L Z18XER & F18D4 VVT Rattles

Suits Models:

  • 2007 – 2010 Holden Astra AH 1.8L Z18XER
  • 2009 – 2016 Holden Cruze JG/JH 1.8L F18D4

A common issue seen in the industry is rattles in the VVT (Variable Valve Timing) phasers, in the cylinder head of a Z18XER or F18D4 engine. Typically what happens in the check engine light comes on and the engine will lack power. The cause of this issue could be a few different things, but it's typically just one.


First, an explanation on what the VVT system does. 


The VVT system for any car alters the cam timing by using a cam phaser which is mounted on the cam sprocket. As the engine RPM changes, the phaser turns, thus altering the timing of the camshaft. 


In the Z18XER and F18D4 engines, oil is sent to the phasers through the camshafts, which are hollow. Just behind the VVT phaser bolts, insider each camshaft are black plastic oil flow tubes. These are the tubes that direct the flow of oil to the correct side of each VVT camshaft phaser. 


Most often the cause of this rattle is because the black plastic tubes are left out after a new head or camshaft is fitted. The tubes are absolutely vital because they correctly flow the oil. Without the tube, the oil flow doesn't occur which means the oil is not getting to the phasers, which in turn makes them rattle. This also bring on the lack of power and a series of fault codes. 


These oilt tubes MUST be fitted into the end of the camshaft before the phasers and bolts are put in place. 


Attached to each of the camshafts is a position actuator solenoid. Inside the solenoids are filters. If these filters break or spin, they should be removed and either replaced or left out (in line with Holdens recommendation).


The black rubber tubes and the filter assembles are the most common cause of the VVT rattles. That doesn't mean it's the only cause but it is the most common. 


If you are presented with a vehicle that has the same symptoms and then the following fault codes in the ECU, then you may have this problem:


* P0011: Intake camshaft position system performance
* P0014: Exhaust camshaft position system performance
* P000A: Intake camshaft position system slow response
* P000B: Exhaust camshaft position system slow response


If this is what you see, the next things is to check the filters on both the intake and the exhaust camshaft position actuator solenoids. These are mounted on each side of the head, just behind the timing belts. Remove the solenoids and check to see if the filters are broken. If they are, this will allow the filters to rotate inside the solenoid, which can then reduce the oil flow to the solenoid, thus causing the symptoms. 


A formal Holden service fix has been released to solve this issue. It instructs technicians to remove the filters out of the solenoids entirely. To remove the solenoid, remove the filter, clean the solenoid and refit it without the filter. This is because the Holden engineers have deemed the filters unnecessary for any engine that is past being run in. Which means in essentially any road car with these symptoms, they can be removed. 


Generally this restores normal operation of the VVT and the codes will not return. If you do still see the codes or fault in the VVT system, check for other electrical faults or oil pressure issues. 


VVT ratles can also occur when the camshafts are fitted in correctly. There are markings on the camshafts to help prevent this exact issue. The intake camshaft has a "G" beside it's second last lobe. The exhaust camshaft has a "D" in the corresponding place. Check to see that the intake and exhaust cams are in the right way around. 


If you need any parts for your Holden Z18XER or F18D4 engine, get in contact with us at ETP Online.

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