Frequently asked questions about FIAT Tipo 16V

Is it normal to get a power surge after 4000 rpm?

Barry Girgis says that his car has not got a lot of bottom end but when the revs hit around 4000 rpm in second or third, the car just zooms. Is this a typical trait? I think all owners will agree that the car definately pulls well once it gets into the upper rev band. This is typical of 16V engines, they require high velocity air entering the cylinders to work at their best. Please correct me if I'm wrong or if you can add to this.

What cars can the Tipo 16V beat off the traffic lights?

Bit of a boy racer question this one but asked lots of times!

Alex Wakefield says he raced a W registration V6 Vectra GSI with all the bodykit. Ooooh, he caused some upset - the guy driving the car will be busy seeing what modifications his company will pay for to make it go faster. The joy of stealth!

What can you tell me about Turbo Charging my Tipo 16V?

Everyone has their own views on this. Here are some of the visitors:

Alex Wakefield:
Alex reckons the best idea would be to get a low mileage Coupe Turbo engine and put that in, or even cheaper (if you can find a good one) an engine from a Lancia Thema Turbo.

Richard Ellingham:
For turbo conversions speak to John Whalley, the man for Lancia turbo charging.

Nareman Virk:
If you're serious about turbo-charging your car, phone Avanti Motorsport. They have just built one and estimate it is producing about 195 bhp, which I believe is similar to the 16v turbo in a Fiat Coupe.

Alexis Grant:
There is no such thing as a bolt on turbo. It is unlikely that the standard engine will survive without being upgraded to handle the extra heat and power.

John Lee:
You may want to consider a LPT (low/light pressure turbo). These are used on SAABs amongst others. You don't really get any more bhp but the torque curve is much stronger and little or no lag. The turbo needs to run at a certain amount of boast (I think it's about 6-8 psi) just to overcome the restriction in the inlet and exhaust systems caused by the turbine blades. Best option is probably just to drop in an engine that is already capable of taking the heat and power produced. Even with a bolt on kit I'd image you'd need to reduce the compression slightly, even if it's just the use of a thicker head gasket. You may also need the ECU remapping to reduce the advance otherwise you're going to get detonation.

Steve Lewis:
I looked at this about 5 years ago. The concept of a light pressure turbo is a good way to go, and is a conservative method of turbo charging: hence done by people like SAAB. The way I thought would be to use the standard motor with a turbo bolted onto a Thema turbo 16v exhaust manifold. An intercooler is a must to reduce intake temperatures. 4 psi of positive boost is about the same as 1 compression ratio. So if you use 8psi, the standard compression ratio will go to about 12.5:1. Even with an intercooler you're going to be pushing into detonation. One way around it is to use an ignition retard device from someone like Detection Techniques (TurboBoost) which retards the ignition around peak torque. Another (I think better method) is to use water injection from someone like Aquamist( I decided to buy an Integrale instead of turbo charging my Sedicivalvole, and run 1.6 bar (about 23.5psi) with an 8:1 compression. Following the above calculation, my working compression ration is about 14:1. I have no detonation with this method. Speak with Richard Lamb, he's very knowledgeable and most helpful). A standard Integrale turbo (or similar T3 from something else will probably be cheaper). To be honest you're not going to get a perfect match for your motor without spending a lot. A T3/T25 hybrid may be a reasonable compromise. Then you need space to fit the intercooler with a supply of cold air and connect the lot to the throttle body. The biggest problem (and probably expense) will be to get your eprom re-programmed (I suggest Detection Techniques). They will do it on their state-of the-art rolling road at a cost of about £800. Having said "state-of the-art rolling road", be very, very wary of rolling roads with turbocharged motors. It seems impossible to get enough air to cool the motor/turbo/intake charge. Check with the manufacturer to find how much fuel they can flow. You should get something approaching 200bhp with this set-up and over 200 lbsft of torque.

Alex Neagu:
Changing the entire engine is also an option however if you are short of money you can use the Tipo 16V block and just replace key parts. Only replacing those parts that are necessary has another huge benefit in that doing it this way you know that your engine has new pistons for example instead of putting in an engine of unknown quality. What money you save here you can invest in the injection system. This is tricky as you have to change the wiring loom and the ECU and bear in mind that the Fiat Coupe has the key code system which means that even if you fit the entire wiring loom you won't be able to start the car without the original key. Possible solutions are:

My car jerks when coming off the throttle at high speed, is this normal?

Someone reported that they have had their 16v for 6 years and it has always "jerked" when coming off the throttle at high speed. It feels like the engine is about to cut out (not that it does). They tried changing filters, plugs etc but it dod not fix the problem.

Alex Wakefield says that his car is sometimes impossible to drive at slow speed! He says it just doesn't like pottering about - when the Italians were testing them around Turin back in 1991 they probably didn't spend more than 10% of their time below 90mph.

Keith Meredith says it's all about the ECU mapping. Fiat/Alfa's all seem to be jerky, usually at low speed. He says his does it sometimes, when you lift off at speed it really jolts the car as if the engine is gonna seize or something. So he thinks its one of those things you have to live with or look at getting the ecu re-mapped. , but this can be very dodgy!!!

Martin Hodges says his does exactly the same thing and even after he made all the same changes it still coughs and splutters when taking his foot off after high speed driving, but only for a few secs.

Gavin Thomas say when he's crusing along on the motorway and come up behind slower traffic, he lifts off the throttle and his 5-door Sedici coughs, shudders and jumps like it's going to die. His usual reaction is to put the clutch in, and then very gingerly increase the revs and it seems to go away again... but then rears it's ugly head five minutes later. He has no idea what causes this problem but he's now on his second 2.0 16v engine and both engines had the same problem.

Mike Jukes said he did get some jerkiness at low speed but his superchip eliminted most of those. He thinks it might be the mapping of the 5 door ECU as he has owned 2 three door models and neither has exibited this behaviour.

What chip should I get for my car?

Let me first say that unless you get a chip custom tuned to suite the modifications you've made to your car then you are not going to gain a huge amount of power out of simply changing the chip. The main differences will be a smoother power delivery since they will be able to iron out any flat spots in the power curve. If you opt for the custom tuned chip then you are talking about a lot of money. However the chip can then be tuned to make the most of free flowing exhausts, air filters and any other engine modifications you've made. Your car will though also need to be run for several hours on a rolling road whilst the chip is being mapped which are renowned for breaking engines.

When I first looked at chipping my car I inquired about BBR's chip called the StarChip. I have delt with BBR before and I have never been very impressed by their attitude over the phone which is both patronising and very sharp. First impressions are that they know their stuff. Starchip have two chips on offer, one rated at 166 bhp for £200, and a group N rated at 174 bhp for £500. Unfortunatly the 174 bhp version only works with a non catalytic converter equiped car. Removing the catalytic converter still does not allow it to be fitted as the engine management system can't be tricked into ignoring certain sensors. They said that this is the engine that responded the best to any tuning they have performed. Although they might say that to every caller!!. However I can't recommend the chip they produce as several Tipo owners have reported problems with the running of their cars with this chip and one even blames the destruction of his engine on the chip.

The first paragraph of the reply from SuperChips was a real sweetener telling me what a well developed hot hatch I had with a beautiful engine and well engineered suspension. The chip altered the fueling to slow the response of the computer to the lamda sensor increasing the fueling under dynamic conditions to improve performance. They also found that the timing was critical in the mid range and was a little retarded. The results were a little dissappointing however a gain of only 9 bhp. They then went on to say how much better it would be with a K&N air filter and the catalytic converter replaced with a straight though pipe. The cost at the time was £193.

Both Superchips and StarChip have reduced their prices since I bought my Superchip. Both also offer a rolling road service where they custom chip your car based on any tuning modifcations you have made. Just take your car along to a suitably equipped rolling road and they will tune the engine via the telephone line.

If you choose to order your chip through the post then you will need details like the current chip ID which can be found printed on the top of the chip. This is located inside the engine management box underneath the glovebox. This is so that they supply the correct replacement chip for your car.

If you live in Brazil then the standard FIAT ECU is remapped for the special alcohol based fuel you use. I doubt very much that a standard superchip will make the engine run properly with such fuel. If you are lucky they will have already "designed" another chip that runs optimally with your type of fuel for a previous client. If not then they might need to custom map a chip and will need your car for this.

Why does your car use a Superchip ECU and a Unichip piggyback ECU?

The Unichip piggy back ECU is an extremely mappable device. The garage that rolling road tuned the car were experts tuning the Unichip. It was not easy to change the rev limit of the standard FIAT ECU using the piggy back unit without swapping a timing crystal. It was far easier to get another Superchip blown with rev limit removed and use the piggy back to set the rev limit. The mapping in the Superchip was used as a base for the mapping in the piggyback ECU.

Should I replace my camshafts?

I would stick with the standard cams. They produce a very flat strong torque curve. Aftermarket cams might give you a few more BHP at the top end but at the sacrifice of less low down power. I have tried a couple of different camshafts on my car and was not impressed with the results. There are simply not enough tuning companies with Tipo 16V engine experience to know what does and does not work.

How do I check the health of my engine?

A compression test is an easy way to determine the internal health of your engine. The test will tell you if your engine has good compression. An engine is essentially a self-powered air pump, so it needs good compression to run efficiently, cleanly and to start easily Make sure the battery is fully topped up. This is important because if the charge weakens the engine will turn over slower than ideal and produce inaccurate readings. You will need to disconnect the power to the fuel injectors otherwise you will get petrol sprayed into the cylinders. Also disconnect the high tension lead from the distributor to avoid any electrical shocks. Remove all 4 spark plugs. Now would be an ideal opportunity to examine their electrodes against the pictures in a Haynes Manual.

Screw a pressure gauge into one of the cylinders. Press the accelerator to the floor to ensure WOT (Wide Open Throttle) and use the ignition key to turn the engine over. On each revolution you will see the gauge needle jump higher by smaller and smaller amounts. Stop cranking the engine over when the needle stabilizes. This is typically after about 4 revolutions or 10 seconds. The final reading is the compression for that cylinder. Do this for each of the remaining 3 cylinders.

The readings should be within about 10% of each other and be in the region of 140 - 160 psi.

If there are any anomalies then you should now perform what's called a "Wet Test". Add about 1-2 tablespoons of oil into the cylinder with low compression. Wait a minute to allow the oil to flow down and coat the sides of the cylinder and piston. If there are any gaps in the rings, the oil will seal them for the next few minutes. Screw in the pressure gauge and crank the engine over as before. If the reading improved significantly, more than 30 psi, your piston rings are probably worn.

If there is little or no improvement the compressed air is not getting past the piston rings and you need to carry out a leak-down test to determine where the air is escaping. This can be via the intake valves, exhaust values, crankcase or head gasket.

Low compression in two adjacent cylinders typically means you have a bad head gasket.

Some garages confuse a compression test with a leak down test. A compression test is very quick to perform and requires little more than a pressure gauge. However a leak down test requires a compressed air cylinder and a special gauge. This gauge had two dials, one showing the pressure of the air entering the cylinder and the other the percentage of this air being lost.

Working on a cylinder at a time turn the crank until it's at TDC, this will ensure that the valves are fully closed. Turn the knob on the air hose to get a steady reading on both gauges. You must use the same pressure on all cylinders. You now need to listen to where the air is escaping:

If the results are inconclusive then it could be the head gasket. If you suspect a blown head gasket, which has symptoms such as reduced power, white or blue smoke out the tailpipe, oil in the coolant or coolant in the oil. If you remove the coolant cap and watch the coolant level when you add the compressed air. If it rises or you see bubbles, you have a leaking head gasket.

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