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Discussion Starter #1
Chasing down problems on my 2005 STS 4.6L vin A.

Found the connectors for both the LH camshaft position actuators full of oil. Cleaned up the connectors, is there any way to test and see if they are working properly? The dealer claims they need to be replaced of course.
$197 ea. I'm sure there are some available for less.

I read the big problem with these is a screen getting plugged up with dirty oil. Can you fix things just by cleaning the screen?
 

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Hey, I'm having the same problems as you describe. I made a post a few down. Are you getting any codes for over advanced timing, or similar? Like P0014 or 24or5?

I haven't updated my situation yet, but I can tell you what I've learned over the past few days. I discovered that my camshaft position actuator connectors have oil in them as well (left side facing front of motor). From what I've gathered is that yes, they are bad. Could be either clogged and stuck open, or broken. Basically oil is bypassing the valves and leaking into the connector housings or whatever.<<this is all from reading, I'm far from a mechanic lol>>So I found a website that explained how to replace them. Not an easy task. Seems you need 3 special tools and have to get at the camshaft and hold it in place, hold the timing chains in place, and then unscrew the valve and replace (probably equal to a timing chain job, unfortunately). Then I watched a video of a guy who skipped all that and took the valve out of its housing by just removing the magnetic cover. His were both broken same side. But he had spare replacements, and seemed to have a hard time removing a snap ring. I'll try posting a link, otherwise search YouTube 2005 STS P0014 and it should show up, find the one that's about 45 min. long. (I believe he shows how you can test them as well, I skipped a lot of the video)

Did the dealer quote you that just for the price of the part? Cheapest I've found is around $165. Just guessing at what it seems to take to get them out, I'd say it's over 4 hrs. labor. So at my dealership nearest to me it would probably cost me around $800+ just to replace the two actuators. As for being able to clean them, idk, maybe if the front of the valve isn't snapped off. I'm waiting on my brother-in-law to get time to do it for nothing but the cost of the parts, since he's the one who replaced my timing chains.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Yes , the price was from the dealer. I'm sure there are less expensive sources out there. From what I've seen, which hasn't been much, replacing the actuator, not the solenoid, primarily requires you align two oil passages from the solenoid with holes in the actuator using a pin. The dealer said there was a diaphragm in the actuator which starts to leak. I've been told by a mechanic that some are notorious for short lives.

Both of mine on the left side are leaking and need to be replaced, if they don't work the VVT on that side isn't working. The one to the inside of the engine is for the intake valve camshaft, and the outside one is for the exhaust valve camshaft

I haven't been getting any codes, just a lot of misfires no one can find a cause for. So I've been chasing things down that affect timing. These obviously are a part of the problem, so they're next. I took a tilt steering column apart and put it back together without special tools, so I'm willing to give this a shot.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Trying to out tech the Germans to appeal to Europhiles. Forgot the best is KISS engineering, that's why the BMW straight 6 is one of the best engines made. Simple & rugged. Keep it in oil and drive it hard and it's happy. My 1988 735i is still a daily driver. The new ones are trash.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Think I'll go out to the wrecking yard and take one apart and see whats involved
 

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Taking it apart is easy.
Remove intake hose and filter.
Remove 2x 10mm nuts holding power steering fluid reservoir in place
Remove 1x 10mm bolt to remove bracket from PS fluid reservoir to allow you to move it out of the way.
Drop serpentine belt off of idler pulley.
Loosen idler pulley to drop it out of the way.
Remove the 3x T30 screws holding the magnets in place.
Carefully pry the magnet off the front of motor (it's held on with RTV as well)
The part will likely break open due to rivets that don't hold well which is actually fine.
Remove the plate that was left behind (if yours split open).
Clean off the old RTV

Make sure the center cap is not installed in the new magnet.
They are 1 time use only.
Once installed they can't be removed, they are a small plug with an O-ring.

Put a new bead of RTV on the back of the new magnets
Install the new magnets
Use a 15/64" drill bit back to properly align the magnet.
If you don't do this the valve the magnet opens will bind up and VVT won't work.

Put things back that you removed.

You can find the magnets on amazon new in box for like $38 each, however they already have the cap installed so you'll need to get the cap from a dealer for about $4 each. Still way cheaper than dealer cost for the whole magnet.

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B008Y8WNAK
The cap part number is 12567421 "PLUG, CMSHF POSN ACTR BORE"
 

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Hey, thanks for the pics. This is where my confusion came in. When I'm reading about this stuff, that magnetic cover thing is called a VVT Solenoid, and the oil control valve is also called a VVT Solenoid at parts stores. Replacing the oil control valve is what I hope not to have to do. Here's a link on how to if anyone is interested link

The video I brought up earlier showed a guy skipping over basically doing a timing chain job, and was able to pull the valve out by removing some snap ring located behind that cup shaped part sticking out in your pics. His oil control valves were broken. I still don't understand why you can't just simply unscrew the valves and replace them.

Can I pull off the magnetic solenoid just to check to see if the valve is "springing" back and forth? (And obviously make sure it isn't broken) Maybe I'll start with replacing them, they are only like $40 each. Who knows maybe I'll get lucky.

Also, anyone know if since I have a pool of oil inside my electrical connector housings, do I need to replace them connectors? I know water is no good, but does oil affect anything? Those aren't cheap for what they are.
 

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The video I brought up earlier showed a guy skipping over basically doing a timing chain job, and was able to pull the valve out by removing some snap ring located behind that cup shaped part sticking out in your pics. His oil control valves were broken. I still don't understand why you can't just simply unscrew the valves and replace them.
He just didn't want to remove the whole cover, and the access hole was large enough that he could get that snap ring removed and pull out the valve.
I'm sure he saved several hours of work doing this and the repair was basically just as effective.
Can I pull off the magnetic solenoid just to check to see if the valve is "springing" back and forth? (And obviously make sure it isn't broken) Maybe I'll start with replacing them, they are only like $40 each. Who knows maybe I'll get lucky.
You can, but like I mentioned most likely you'll break the magnetic solenoid cases so you'll have to replace them (the only way not to would involve likely severely gouging the cover these mount to).
When they are exposed like in my photos you can certainly pull them a bit and they will spring back and forth just fine, I did the same thing to confirm mine were not broken.
I'm sure the engine in that video had those broken due to the damage to the motor, but it is good to make sure they aren't binding on anything.

Also, anyone know if since I have a pool of oil inside my electrical connector housings, do I need to replace them connectors? I know water is no good, but does oil affect anything? Those aren't cheap for what they are.
The new magnet has a new plug on the one side, for the wiring that plugs into it there are wire harness pigtails available to replace them (I did this) you'd need 4 total.
ACDelco PT2629 GM Original Equipment Black Multi-Purpose Pigtail
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0055AMAWQ
This package includes 2 crimp connectors that are heat shrink weather proof (use a heat gun or lighter to seal them), the wires are 16AWG or 18AWG (can't recall exactly) and about 17" long.
Both wires are white / unlabeled so you'll need to make sure you match them up correctly with old / new. Although since it is just a magnet it probably doesn't matter but it is good practice.

The oil wicks up into the wiring and seems to dissolve the insulation on the wires (makes it spongy and swell up and seems to stick to other wires kind of like it is melting).
 

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Note: Doing the work I did took care of a bunch of random misfires that I was getting (feeling and seeing on the tech2 misfire graph).
Aside from 1 event about a month ago these misfires had never triggered CEL or a code of any kind (no P030*).
The one event that did set CEL was P0010-00 (intake bank 1 CMP actuator solenoid control circuit) and P0013-00 (exhaust bank 1 CMP actuator solenoid control circuit) and P0300 (generic misfire detected) which happened within maybe 1 minute of engine start.

I did also have a bad spark plug in #8 which was causing its own issue with misfires but never set a CEL. I've only got about 30k miles on these plugs but somehow #8 has a big scorch mark on the insulator where the coil boot sits.
(I swapped coils from 8 to 2 as well to see if issues with 8 were fixed with plug or coil) I'm getting a new coil since the boot showed some damage from the scorch mark and have replaced the plug already.

 

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Thanks for the info. Originally the codes I had were the P0014 and 24 I think (both were for camshaft over advance bank 1 and 2 exhaust). The wiring for the right side (facing motor) are clean and dry on both the intake and exhaust. It's the left side that has oil in both intake and exhaust wiring connectors. Now after about 8 start-ups and around 50 mi. or so, I cannot duplicate the error code. All I get is the P0300 and one telling me my fuel is lean on the one bank. Nothing pending either.

So based on the oil inside both wiring connectors on the intake and exhaust on the left side, I think I'm going to attempt to replace them two magnetic solenoids and the wiring connectors. Have to hope them valves are still good. You think that would be a good idea?

Also so I'm understanding, when I receive the new magnetic solenoids it will most likely have the center plug installed? Is that the black piece in your pic? Just pop it out and get new ones, and that's what you stick the drill bit through and into the hole on the valve, then tighten down the solenoid? What did you use to clean off the old RTV?

Thanks.
 

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Sorry for the delay...

So based on the oil inside both wiring connectors on the intake and exhaust on the left side, I think I'm going to attempt to replace them two magnetic solenoids and the wiring connectors. Have to hope them valves are still good. You think that would be a good idea?
Yeah that would be a good plan, certainly can't hurt as long as you've got them lined up.
You can use the same methodology that the guy used in the video to verify that once it is all back together that you can hear the valves pull open by applying +12v and ground to the two pins of the magnet.
I cleaned up one of the bad / old cables and used that to test them after I was done to make sure things were still lined up after getting it all together.

when I receive the new magnetic solenoids it will most likely have the center plug installed? Is that the black piece in your pic? Just pop it out and get new ones, and that's what you stick the drill bit through and into the hole on the valve, then tighten down the solenoid? What did you use to clean off the old RTV?
That is correct, my final picture in post #9 shows the inside of that plug in the center of the magnet, it is impossible to remove without breaking due to the amount of pressure that the o-ring causes.
This is where the drill bit sticks through, then the bit slides into the very center end of the valve, this is how you ensure you are lined up. I would tighten it down while the bit is still inserted.

I used an old putty knife that was laying around, it was probably 1.5" wide, the RTV scrapes off rather easy.

@ZBOX - not trying to split hairs but to be technically correct and to not cause confusion for someone reading this in the future, the VVT northstar redesign came out in 2004 for the SRX and XLR as the LH2 RPO package.
However, that PDF was interesting to read through back when I was prepping to do this work.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Well, replaced both the solenoids on bank one that were leaking. Don't see any improvement.

Still getting a P0300 random misfire code with a rough idle and exhaust back fires.

My scan tool, Blue Driver, list about 11 possible causes as before of which I've covered like six. Valve issues get into some serious money and I'm not going down that road. Need to find a mechanic that knows his stuff.

Long time ago I had a Olds Delta 88 that was making horrible noises from the engine. Took it by four places and no one had a clue. Then I went by a little side street shop and the guy listened to it for a couple minutes and said " that's your harmonic balancer coming apart" he had it all fixed up the next day. Just need to find the right mechanic.
 

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Pull the plugs and do a compression test, that will tell you a lot about the cylinders without ripping into the engine. It's really easy to do.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
The old RTV just peeled off. was a pain to keep it off the cam solenoid to keep it clean, might wrap it in plastic wrap before you start.
For some reason the center plugs come installed, and after popping four of them out I still don't see a way to do it without damaging the little clips on the end. Of course no one around here had the plugs available by themselves. Maybe online?
What's with the suppliers?
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Already did that, everything looked good.

Going to "reposition" the wiring while the car is running, that's one of the suggestions I got. Might show a bad plug connection or broken wire.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Been wondering about those brown stains around the bases of my spark plugs. This is what NGK says,

Corona stain
A brown stain – often mistaken for gas leakage – is sometimes observed in a ring around where the insulator joins the metal shell of the spark plug. This discolouration is generally called Corona Stain and is the result of oil particles present in the air around the engine adhering to the insulator surface.

The Corona Stain is often seen on spark plugs that are installed deep into the engine such as on many four valves per cylinder engine applications. This is because oil particles are not blown away by air circulating around the engine compartment and thus adhere to the insulator surface. It is important to understand that Corona Stain causes no deterioration to the function of the spark plug.
 
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