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Ghibli engine knock, timing, rebuilding.

3118 Views 46 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Burner67
I would like to share my learning experience on this engine with people who may be interested in some deeper insight or answers.

Backstory: I purchased my 2014 Ghibli SQ4 with a known bad engine (rod knock). Upon removing the engine I found it was already a used replacement since it had salvage yard markings. I tore it down and it was just too far gone. Multiple spun rod bearings and spun mains along with grooved cylinder walls. Our local machine shop didn’t have the tooling for line bore and at that time I had no leads on over size bearings or pistons. So I purchased a used engine. After installing I only received just over 1k miles before it too lost a rod bearing (should have checked filter before install). I was able to save this engine and rebuild the bottom end.

During the rebuild process I did find a few notable items. I read a lot about oil pump failures on these engines but don’t think that was my case. The oil pressure was fine on this engine. In fact I was planning on cleaning and reusing the pump because of the price. It was only after I found an affordable replacement from melling did I decide to replace it. M-528 was the model I used from the jeep 3.6. Autozone had it in stock as well as the timing chains. While I was tearing the engine down I notice it was the #1 rod that lost the bearing. I also found the #1 main bearing was nearly gone as well. It looked like it had been scoring for quite some time. As far as what caused the failure, the only sure thing I could find wrong was that the #1 main journal on the crank was tapered. Clearance was .002 tapered down to .001 or so on the tight end. I even flipped the crank 180 and put the last journal in there to make sure it wasn’t the block. It was the crank.
Automotive tire Metalworking Gas Auto part Bicycle part

Timing- it took a few tries and some research but eventually I nailed it after finding a couple repair manual pages. I highly recommend purchasing the alignment tool as there is no crankshaft timing mark and you will want the plates to hold the cams while you’re making fine adjustments. There really is also some sort of a mystery here. When I took the engine apart I never removed the cam gears or even touched the bolts. So I didn’t think much of them when trying to time it. So I put it together once before I had the timing tool and just lined up all the marks with the chainlinks etc. started it up, drove around. Got timing codes. So I ordered the tool, took it apart and retimed it. Once I had it
running again it threw the same codes. Took it apart AGAIN and finally found the key. You have to have 12 chain pins between the timing marks on the cams up top. The only way I could achieve this was by loosening the cam gears and turning them just slightly to fit one more tooth over. That is what solved it. Keep in mind that I never touched the gears until that time so I’m not sure how they could be a tooth off. All the cams were labeled and installed where they originally came out.

I’ve Attached some images for reference. Hopefully this has been insightful. I wish I had more pictures but after continuing issues I was never sure what was going to be right or wrong.

Motor vehicle Automotive tire Font Auto part Engineering

Automotive tire Font Engineering Rim Circle


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Very interesting write-up. Thanks for sharing with the broader community. Hopefully this is the last engine for your Ghibli!!!
First post, here, greetings from Holland!
Very intersting topic this one indeed.
So, to be sure i understand correctly: You had a bad rod bearing in your first engine, that was already exchanged once.
Then the "new" engine came up with the same problem after 1000 miles.
This sounds like a serious Ghibli problem then!
Or where metal shavings left behind in the oil/water-heat exchanger, that was re-installed every time maybe?
I am very eager to learn about the real cause of this bearing problem.
When i look at the main bearing shell, everything points at oil contamination due to metal particles.
Even an overdue oil filter should keep this out, until it is really clogged and oil pressure goes down.
In that case, normally a by pass valve would open and yes....unfiltered oil is passed.
And am i right in reading that the Jeep 3.6 oil pump, fits the Ghibli engine?
Some speak about oil pump problems, does Jeep also know these problems?
Glad to hear your thoughts about this!
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Yes, you have that correct! This is at least the 4th engine/rebuild going in just this car.
1) Original engine.
2) Salvage engine in car w/rod knock when I purchased.
3) Salvage engine I purchased to put in the car.
4) My rebuild on the salvage engine.

The oil cooler is actually in the "v' of the block below the intake manifold and fuel rails. So this is something that would likely stay with each engine and not be transferred. The used engine (boat anchor) i purchased came with the manifold on it with a "warranty void if removed" sticker. Warranty was only 30 days. I put a brand new Maserati oil filter and oil when i put this in. I wish I would have checked the valleys of the old oil filter when i removed it. The only oil related part that was reused was the turbo chargers which of course I flushed thoroughly. Even then, the particles would be going into the oil pan/filter.

Yes I used the Jeep 3.6 oil pump. I am glad I could find one made by an aftermarket just incase there is an actual issue. I absolutely hate the design of this pump. Some sort of 2 stage deal with blades that shift outwards with centrifugal force. Wish I had taken a picture. I've never seen one like this in an engine I built but may just be a newer design. Also something that bothered me was the design of the oil pick up tube. 1) It's plastic. 2) the diameter seems excessive perhaps cutting down velocity/suction pressure. 3) the oil pump screen is being located at the top end of the oil pan rather than at the bottom as i'm used to. It is also in a large cavity more than halfway up the tube. It just seems like a recipe for disaster to me. Easy to get an air bubble. Or if the plastic tube cracks and you can't get proper suction.... In my opinion I think some more conventional thinking would be beneficial. I looked into the jeep 3.6 oil pump because i haded it so much but could not use it because the deep part of the sump must be at the rear of the engine instead of the front like ours.... which again might be another small issue.

Think of this with the average joe: the oil change interval is what every 12,000 miles? ok, guarantee most people driving these cars don't check the oil and probably expect the car to check it for them. 12,000 miles on oil in a twin turbo engine a lot can happen. The oil running through hot turbos certainly degrades the film strength (yes i know they are "cooled") but that will still be more abuse than a standard naturally aspirated engine. The ring gap it typically wider on turbo application allowing more blowby and oil to be burned. So after 12k miles you probably lose at LEAST a quart but i would guess 2. Then you're at 11,999 miles on the last oil change, your film strength is degraded, you're 2 quarts low, you floor it and all the oil you have goes to the rear of the engine where the pickup tube ISN'T next thing you know you could be sucking air at a time when you need maximum oil film strength, and luck just to keep from grenading the engine normally.

Oh and put all that on top of the fact that the main bearing was tapered on this crank and presto metal on metal contact. Which I believe would cause a loading/support issue at any rpm. There is a reason they have taper limits I'm sure of it.

Keep your oil topped off and change it every 5k I would suggest.

I'm not sure if jeep is having this problem but they also did have the oil pump in stock... so that must be some sort of indication of demand.

I have over 1,000 miles on this rebuild so far and still going strong. I have changed the oil twice, and been through 10 oil filters just checking for metal particles so often. So far so good.

I would like to say I've had really good luck with oil filters. I once took an oil pan off a mitsubishi I turbocharged and did some grinding in the crankcase. Cleaned up what I could but I'm sure i didn't get it all. Also had a oil return come off on the highway lost all oil with that same engine and made it to a parts store parking lot. Still ran for over a year without issue 10k+ miles before I sold it and i bet it's still going.
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Good to read your engine is doing well now!

Changed oil and oil filter today, checked the filter unit for partikels, looked at the magnetic tap plug, also nothing to be seen. Car has 29k kms done. Everything ok. Filled the engine with a high end full synthetic 0W40 oil. (winter use) Added Interflon as I allways do. Noticed that the oil pressure Indictator now always shows 10 minutes past 12, going to end of scale as soon as throttle is opened further, returning to 10 past 12 as soon as you lift throttle again. So the oil pressure must be load dependent also!
I decided to drive always in "oil pressure indication mode" to be able to see if something changes. Because it is still not clear to me whether the oil pump is the trouble maker or something else.
Or maybe still lack of attention regarding maintenance and the way these engines should be treated.
I’m glad some of you have the skill set and patience to do such a job.

Me, I’m more of a “Drop a cigar in it, and get a new Maserati” type of guy….. 🤣
Well I’m not sure how much help that oil pressure gauge will be. When the used engine I purchased lost a rod it indicated the oil pressure was just fine even at idle and knocking lol. On the engine that came in the car that spun multiple rods and mains was started it did indicate good at first but once warmed up it went in the red but this thing was bad bad. I’m thinking the oil filter will let you know far before the gauge makes any indication. Personally, I don’t think it’s the oil pump itself that’s the problem.

I guess at this point I could have put a sizable down payment on a new one 😂 but then I wouldn’t have had the puzzle to solve.
Do you know what kind of oil was in your "rod throwing" engine?
Maybe it was a 10W60, it will cover up some leakage though worn bearings.
I also think that the oil pump has quite some capacity, as it is capable to achieve end of scale pressure with relatively low viscosity oils even in hot conditions at quite lowish engine rpms.
This makes it difficult indeed, to know when things become bad, just by observing the oil pressure meter.
To be honest, i am afraid not all dealers change the oil filter, everytime they should.
I am almost 100% sure, the filter in my car, was the one it came with from new.
Some mechanics even say that changing the oil filter at every oil change, is not that neccesairy......yeah, right.
And if they don't, will it still be mentioned on the invoice....what do you think ;)
( i have seen and heard some sh#t)
Also, do these cars always get the correct type of oil at the correct intervals?
Of course, there are very good and trustworthy workshops and mechanics also.
If you have one, be happy!
Just out of interest; the bearing shells, are those multi layer (babbit) ones, or metal/aluminium?
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I'm not sure what oil was used in the engine that was knocking when I got the car, but I do know I put a brand new Maserati oil filter and 5w-40 mobil 1 in the used engine I purchased that threw a rod bearing. I've never seen 10w60 on a shelf in the US so I would surprised if that was the case.

Based on the clearances of this engine I imagine it could run on 5w30 no problem, maybe even lighter weight oil. I feel like too heavy of an oil can make for a risk on startup if it doesn't have the proper clearance to circulate. If you look up the jeep 3.6 which is in my opinion the base version of this engine it runs on recommended 5w20.

I would not be surprised if techs were not changing the filter, especially on these cars, it makes a huge mess. This is why I always do my own work, just can't trust anyone. I used to work at a shop that had virtually no training to the employees, just learn on the fly lol.

The bearing material was multi layer. Babbit, copper, and steel backing from what I saw. This is good in my opinion and really a must have for a performance engine. Steel backed bearings can withstand much more pressure than aluminum and should always be used in performance application in my opinion.

I believe another "unseen" factor could be effecting these engines. Engine balance. If I were to do another one it would interesting to see how far off balance the original assembly is. At 6k+ rpms and high cylinder pressures from turbo, this thing could be throwing serious pounds of force if not properly balanced. I believe this is the first high volume productions of engines from Maserati and perhaps it is one of those items that is "close enough" and not dialed in by hand on each engine.
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You could be right about balance issues.
On the other hand, Ferrari will know about the importance of fine balancing crankshafts and rods.
It would surprise me if they made a mess with that.
Strange also, that the later cars even use 10w60 oil. Compare that to 5w20!
Well I mention the balancing because of a personal experience I had. I put together an engine for another car (stock bottom end, added cams and valve springs) that just kept wiping out bearings at high rpms. It wasn't a consistent cylinder either. When I put it together I was very meticulous, I measured and checked everything as I normally do. After I lost the 3rd bearing with no apparent cause I tore it apart and drove several hours to get the rotating assembly balanced. This engine was revving up to 8,500 rpm after the cams and valve springs with about another 50hp. Haven't had a problem since I had it balanced. I doubt this engines get balanced by hand on these high production models.

He does a lot of corrections on just stock rebuilds.

There is a quick read on his website here: Perpetual Balance, LLC

When I was at his shop he had a full chart of out of balance vs RPM and the LBs of force results. Things really add up at the high rpms lol
Balance is important indeed. Years ago I tuned a 3.0 line six. Brought the crank together with flywheel and pressure plate to a firm specialised in balancing . Did the rods myself, reduced weight differences within 1 gram.
That engine revved like a dream.
But I presume cranks are balanced well at Ferrari and rods are weight selected in narrow tolerances.
But we could be wrong.
At the UK Ghibli Facebook group there also is someone again who suddenly lost oil pressure.
He stopped the engine immediately.
Brought the car to a specialist that stated " new engine".
Very interested to hear what went wrong in thát engine.
Interesting… that’s certainly a different problem than I had if he just quickly lost oil pressure. Mine just started knocking with good oil pressure. I wonder if they will pull it apart to find out… I don’t see many people investigating or trying to rebuild these. Maserati certainly hasn’t addressed or recalled anything to my knowledge. It may just be a matter of time. Someone or a group of people out of warranty will probably go after them, make a case, and they’ll end up extending the warranty like Hyundai did with their thousands of ongoing engine failures. I believe their failure was crank related.
On the other hand, sudden loss of pressure, could also mean a bad pressure sensor.
Had that with two Masers in the past. (3200GT & Gransport4.2)
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Hello! I need help for my Ghibli SQ4 2015. I have to replace my bearings and recycle the crankshaft, because the engine is blocked due to leaping of a main chain and everything reflects to the crankshaft. Does anybody know the standard size of crankshaft bearings socket?
If you’re talking about the crank pulley bolt it is 1-1/4 socket. If you are talking about the bearing main caps I believe they are 15mm & 13mm.
If you’re talking about the crank pulley bolt it is 1-1/4 socket. If you are talking about the bearing main caps I believe they are 15mm & 13mm.
Were you able to figure out what caused the failure on your Motors? I had 2 motors that threw rod bearings and my guess is that the oil pickup tube is the one that is faulty. I didn't see anything wrong with the oil pump but noticed the oil pickup tube wasn't sealing very tight. My guess is that this caused the pump to suck in air and thus causing low oil pressure and not lubricating the bearings properly. I also noticed that in the newer model oil pumps, the oil pickup tube had reinforcements on the plastic while the earlier models did not. And based on the forums it seems like 2018+ Ghiblis don't have as many oil pump failures as the 14-17 Models. Pictures of the oil pumps attached for reference.

2014 Pump no Plastic Reinforcements
Blue Gas Electric blue Space Machine

2018 Oil Pump
Art Hat Font Fashion accessory Metal
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Ok, so that IS a difference then.
But it still does not explain why the later cars MUST use 10W60, while the earlier ones must NOT use that grade.
I would expect the pump being more different because of that.
And there will be an o ring that seals the plastic part sticking inside the oil pump.
Despite mounting surfaces there, not being completely flush, sealing behind it will still be ok.
On the other hand, at MB engines, there are o rings in the oil pump circuit that harden out and do not seal anymore, indeed making the oil pump suck in air.
There is a mesh filter inside the plastic tube housing I presume?
Can the housing be opened and the filter cleaned?
For me, plastic parts in this critical area of the engine, is less desirable.
If I ever have to open the engine, I will try to look for a metal exchange, make something myself.
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