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Was the Alloytec a dud?

Discussion in 'The Pub' started by Calaber, Sep 22, 2019.

  1. Calaber

    Calaber Nil Bastardo Carborundum

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    Those of us who have experienced Holdens over many years know that Holdens have been fitted with a multitude of 6 cylinder engines. Until the Alloytec, the only really "advanced" engine was the Nissan six in the VL. While the other engines were basically unrefined, they were reliable. In the case of the Ecotec, its overall reliability, durability and economy are well acknowledged.
    The Alloytec, though is a different matter altogether. Chronic and very well publicised failings like timing chains, sludging, poor crankcase ventilation and complexity have given the engine a bad name. It's not only in Australia. I looked through a number of videos on YouTube and the Alloytec has just as bad a reputation in the US.

    I had a 3.2 alloytec in my 2006 Captiva, with 206k when I sold it, with none of the problems evident during the 3 years I owned it. My sons VE Omega, purchased s/h in 2010, drove across the country for 4 years, travelling from Melbourne to Darwin, and also never missed a beat, so they can be reliable. Some members of this forum have mentioned how reliable their VE's have been but more commonly, when a newbie asks for advice about purchasing a VY or VZ for a first car, we advise the older car, because it didn't have an Alloytec.
    So, is the Alloytec a dud? Opinions?
     
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2019
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  2. Noeleter

    Noeleter Active Member

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    They are an advanced engine and fine generally if properly serviced. Some older engines can handle more abuse but are not as refined.
     
  3. Zehq

    Zehq Active Member

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    You don't even need to compare it to international cars, just compare it to the Barra. You still see FG Falcon taxi's and fleet cars with a million+ km on them but don't see any VE commodores...
     
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  4. Calaber

    Calaber Nil Bastardo Carborundum

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    That's true but the Alloytec suffers from numerous serious weaknesses. That's the reason I posted this thread. Japanese and European engines are very refined too, and while they all have their problems, the Alloytec seems to have more, and more frequently.
     
  5. JMP

    JMP Well-Known Member

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    I thought it was only the early Alloytec that had issues and they ended up sorting most issues out. I was always told don't buy an early VE V6 but to go the V8 and I was more a ls guy by the time the VE came out anyway so don't know much about it
     
  6. _R_J_K_

    _R_J_K_ Well-Known Member

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    Alloytec wasn't a dud, Holden's implementation of it was. Cheaping out on the timing chain (Audi already made that mistake) and putting a woefully undersized PCV system on it. Other problems associated with the VZ got that lumped with the Alloytec i.e. the crap build quality ECU they put in the VZ which seemed to be failing in epidemic proportions a few years ago.

    Disappointing that Holden didn't introduce some more fun versions like the twin turbo variants, but I guess that would have just made a lot of things worse. As an engine standing on their own I really like them as GM doesn't really seem to think outside the box for engines really. The LS is a great motor but the good old 'Murican way for performance development at GM is to just add more displacement to a pushrod V8.

    Outside of that I thought they revved and pulled really well (disregarding certain gearboxes that were behind them). I'd like to see somebody do a low stroke version of it where they use a crank from an LP9 Alloytec in an LLT or LFX to destroke it to 3.1L and maybe turbo it, or just run really aggressive N/A. Would probably spin to like 9 or 10,000.
     
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  7. Calaber

    Calaber Nil Bastardo Carborundum

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    It wasn't Holden who cheapened out on the chains. Its a common US problem too and would have occurred in far greater numbers than Australia.
     
  8. _R_J_K_

    _R_J_K_ Well-Known Member

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    Eh, regardless, it was a material/component issue and not a platform one if that makes sense. If they'd made the PCV hole a bit bigger and spent an extra 10 or whatever dollars on the timing chain.
     
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  9. EYY

    EYY Well-Known Member

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    Silly idea to run chains - belts are the way to go.

    Just look at the 3.4L toyota 5vz-fe. Dohc 3.4L, non interference, 5500rpm redline, very torquey and pulls a 2.5t+ load daily and can do more than a million km without issues. It's just properly engineered and has a hell of a hard time pulling all that weight compared to an alloytec.

    May have been okay in other countries/vehicles but not here. Aussies tend to like big torquey engines that'll push you back in your seat but at the same time can be a little too relaxed when it comes to services and regular maintenance. The old 253, 304, 308, 3.8 v6's and the ls series of engines are very simple and very hard to kill even when not properly maintained - which is what commodore owners were used to prior to the release of the alloytec. The younger generation tend to like the alloytec a little more - probably because they haven't experienced the resilience and cost effective maintenance of older models.
     
  10. Fu Manchu

    Fu Manchu Well-Known Member

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    I like the motor. It’s misunderstood a lot. Weaknesses have been pointed out already.

    I feel what this motor really did was highlight the relationship of Holden and GM. A heap of forced compromises made.

    As also pointed out is Fords attempt at a more sophisticated motor. Holy **** did they get that right. Now becoming one of the world’s best motors. Maybe if Holden had been allowed to design their own engine, they may have achieved a similar outcome. I say this ignoring obvious costs and economics in doing this.

    Wow did Ford do something great or what!
     
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  11. the_boozer

    the_boozer no more VK

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    Go for a trip to a couple of dunger yards and see how many k's the average vz has, how many did 500 thousand k's? Jolleys and places like that must have heaps of them.
    Agree with EYY about the 3.4L toyota 5vz-fe abit like old falcon motors throw them away they don't sell the wrecker told us.
     
  12. Nitro_X

    Nitro_X Numbskull

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    Thankfully my SV6 alloytech (2007 S1) has been reliable. The only problem so far has been the water pump and top coolant seal.
    I checked the timing chain issue via my VIN, it has the updated improved timing chain...phew

    I do service it regularly with high grade oil and change the filter every service.
    It only has 141,000 kms on the clock, low for it's age.
    Would like to install an oil catch can but haven't got around to it :/
    Only run it on BP ultimate or Caltex Vortex 98 fuel, hopefully this helps with general reliability on the engines fuel/ignition system

    .
     
  13. _R_J_K_

    _R_J_K_ Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't say it's any more sophisticated (there are aspects to the Barra that are more basic but in a good/reliable way). To me it pretty much seems to be the Alloytec in a straight six configuration with an iron block and more displacement instead. They both use similar cam phasing and are both DOHC. Both of their LPi systems are both really good too (just throwing that in there). would have liked to have seen them use an alloy block for the Barra, but hey, at least you can put like 1000hp through them. Too bad the Falcon itself made too many compromises/cut corners though.

    Where Ford Aus made a good decision was to not position their 6 as a purely budget/base option and put the R&D into turbocharging it (which would have been minimal work, literally strap a turbo on, change pistons, and tune for emissions). Like I said in my other post GM just performances stuff by using more displacement instead of actually innovating or doing hard things. Kinda like the ZB Commodore/Insignia, there were some awesome sounding ones on paper (TT with AWD and manual) that might have rivaled to some extent the Focus RS or Evo or WRX, but we got boring ass ones. I guess there's a stigma with Commodore 6s from the past as not worth investing in because they've generally been seen as pretty cheap.

    Make sure you plumb it back, you still need the suction of the intake for the PCV system to work properly and you won't take a performance hit (venting to atmosphere won't make it run any better). If your catch can is any good and baffled properly you won't get any oil in the intake.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
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  14. Calaber

    Calaber Nil Bastardo Carborundum

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    The impression I have of the Alloytec is that it was unnecessarily complex. Were 3 timing chains really the best way to drive four camshafts? Could gears have been used to replace the primary chain and shorten the lengths of the secondary chains? Could two chains have been used instead of 3? And finally, could a cam drive shaft setup have been used? I've only seen this setup once on an old Morris /Wolseley 6 cylinder SOHC, where a vertical shaft with helical bronze gears connected directly from the crank to the cam but it would have lasted forever.
     
  15. _R_J_K_

    _R_J_K_ Well-Known Member

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    I mentioned Audi before, design and implementation were two different things, have a read of this - https://jalopnik.com/here-s-why-the-v8-audi-s4-is-an-awful-used-car-1676466510
    Timing chain and it's associated components are supposed to be a life time parts (life of the engine), but when you cut corners and inadvertently make them a not life time part because you're cheap, then it becomes complex because you actually have to take the thing apart which wasn't really supposed to happen. If you look at the Nissan VQ engine or the Toyota GR engine (pretty much Toyota and Nissan Alloytecs) or heeeaps of the Euro engines, they also have three chains (although their layout and chain routing makes a bit more sense) and haven't heard much about those on the level of the Alloytec (although that doesn't really mean much). IMO I'd reckon that 95-99% of cars with chains that aren't terrible would never have a problem. Last chain I personally heard of that needed to be replaced that wasn't on a Commo was my friends DOHC V6 Vitara, the chain was 20 years old. Mostly you remove that part of the equation if you have a timing belt, but the downside is it only works because you're forced to replace it at intervals.

    Manufacturers look to where they can cheap out and save money - e.g. they look for something that costs $1 they don't really need, or can be provided for 50c cheaper with a different material, or they can use a different one that kinda does the same thing but doesn't cost as much etc. Across the production of millions of cars that money ads up and ends up being a big saving on paper, the flipside is that you cheap out on the wrong thing and you end up with the reputation of the Alloytec. Lesson to be learned if you're a manufacturer is that if there's one part not to cheap out on for engine production, it's timing chains and chain guides.

    Cam drive would be expensive I reckon, not to mention it would probably be extremely bulky for four cam shafts (even if it only had two "feeder/main" shafts). Not to mention, I think it would be difficult to adapt to use for VVT, particularly with the oil based cam phasers all the manufacturers are using now. There's probably also some reason that nobody that uses that style of drive for oil pumps anymore like they did in the 5L and a bunch of American iron.

    I know it's not the style you speak of, but OS Giken did a direct gear drive DOHC head at some point in time for the Nissan L series. Have a look at it and you'll see why it's pretty much non existent in production cars, it takes up a lot of real estate on the front of the engine and adds a lot more moving parts to the equation - http://www.speedhunters.com/2013/02/engine-porn-os-giken-tc24-b1z/
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2019
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  16. Crowny

    Crowny Member

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    I must be the odd one out, I've had a VY and then a VZ and prefer the VZ. It has to be said that my VZ is a Series 2 and the VY was a Series 1 and there were issues with the VY such as power steering hoses that were ironed out later on. I must have got one of the good alloytec engines as I've had the car for 7 years. I've had a couple of minor issues like needing an injector replaced and coolant spilling because of a faulty cap. However my car is now 13 years old and I have found it to be a better car than the VY. So far so good with no issues such as timing chains or sludging. That being said I get the oil changed regularly.
     
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  17. greenacc

    greenacc Searching for the billion

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    This is my tenth year of owning an Alloytec and it's been a great engine for me and still goes like new as we head towards 300,000ks. The biggest issue it's had was a leaking thermostat. It even survived a radiator explosion a few years ago. 5W40 full synthetic does the job nicely.
     
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  18. lmoengnr

    lmoengnr Well-Known Member

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    Penrite HPR5?
     
  19. greenacc

    greenacc Searching for the billion

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    I use Synpower. I've heard it's very similar to HPR5 but I started with Synpower so I'm sticking with it for now. I use HPR5 in other cars if I see it on sale.
     
  20. lmoengnr

    lmoengnr Well-Known Member

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    That's good! HPR5 is almost a 'universal' oil, suitable for many different engines.
     

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