Mitsubishi FTO - Engine

Mitsubishi FTO - Engine

Engine oil level
Both versions of the 2.0 V6 engine in the FTO under normal circumstances, given their complexity and power output, are pretty damn reliable and when properly maintained are good for at least 200,000 kms. The few total failures we have encountered can often be attributed to either operator error, infrequent servicing or a combination of the two. This is not rocket science, but don't forget to check the engine oil level on a regular basis.

We can recall a few engines, particularly the Mivec version which tend to use a bit of oil when driven hard and can leak a bit, that have been comprehensively damaged as a result of low engine oil level going undetected. We recommend an oil and filter change every 10,000 kms (6,000 miles) or 6 months whichever is the soonest.

For normal road use, a good quality 10/40 semi synthetic oil is satisfactory. For track days and the like, you may wish to consider something more robust, probably fully synthetic and undoubtedly more expensive.

Engine oil leaks
Minor leaks can often be traced to the cam cover gaskets or the half moon cam seals and are normally nothing more than a messy irritant. Whilst not a major problem on non-MIVEC versions, Mivec engines can be prone to more serious leaks and this is usually the gasketless cam carrier to cylinder head interface, on the offside of the rear bank.

Oil leaks from the head gasket itself are not unknown, but the main culprit is often the aforementioned cam carrier. Although not terminal in itself, a leak from this area can develop into a quite serious problem resulting in oil spraying over the alternator and engine bay, not to mention oil patches on your drive.

Unfortunately there is no quick fix, and rectification entails the removal of the cam carrier from the cylinder head and careful resealing. This job is labour intensive, so it often makes economic sense to attend to this leak at the same time as having any work carried out on valve clearances. See the tappet noise section below. As the inlet manifold is removed during this procedure it also makes sense, if your rear spark plugs are due a change, to have this work carried out at the same time.

We would strongly recommend that cam carrier oil leak rectification should be carried out by a specialist using the correct sealant, as we have come across some particularly poor repair practices, both DIY and by so-called professionals, that have resulted engine failure due to oil starvation as a result of internal oil ways blocked by the wrong or excess sealant or, in some cases, both.     

Tappet noise
The non-MIVEC V6 engines in the GR and GX versions of the FTO have automatically adjusting hydraulic lifters (tappets) and these can be the source of a light top end tapping noise. The hydraulic mechanism inside is affected by mileage, but from our own experience, more by infrequent oil changes resulting in a build up of contaminents, with the resultant inability of the lifter/s to maintain the correct valve clearance. It is not unusual to hear this noise for a few seconds upon start up from cold, but on a fit engine this should soon quieten. Constant or recurring tapping could indicate a more serious problem, but before going to the expense of replacing the lifters try an engine oil flush, followed immediately by an engine oil and filter change.

Changing to an engine oil of a different viscosity may well quieten things down a bit, but at best this really is a temporary bodge. If the noise persists after the engine flush and with fresh oil of the correct viscosity, then a change of all 24 hydraulic lifters is probably the only, albeit expensive, solution.

FTO GR non MIVEC engine

MIVEC V6 engines do not have automatic adjusting hydraulic lifters and therefore valve clearances need to be adjusted manually. A properly maintained and fit Mivec V6 is almost turbine smooth and any top end noise should be investigated immediately. A general 'tappetiness' is often due to incorrect valve clearances and they should be checked and adjusted as a matter of course. Special tools are required to carry out this adjustment and unless you really know what you are doing, it is probably not a DIY job. To make matters worse, recently we have come across a number of MIVEC engines where the nylon seats of some of the lash adjusters have broken and of course they have need to be replaced. There are 24 of the little blighters, only available from Mitsubishi, and at the time of writing they were about £15.00 each. See the section above on oil leaks.


Stalling or erratic tickover
Possibly the most common problem with FTOs, erratic idling can usually be traced to a faulty idle speed control valve often known as the stepper motor. This little electro-mechanical gizmo is controlled by the vehicle's ECU and it's job is to maintain a steady idle speed under conditions of varying engine load caused by, for example, the alternator, ac compressor or pas pump.

Symptoms of stepper motor failure are stalling, erratic idle and excessively fast tick over. The stepper motor bolts onto the throttle body and is connected to the vehicle's wiring harness via a multiplug. Changing it is a simple DIY job. Taking the unit off and cleaning it and the throttle body with fuel system cleaner can sometimes cure the problem. If you do need a new stepper motor then the good news is that aftermarket units are now available at about 25% of dealer prices.

We are starting to see an increasing number of FTOs with other throttle body faults, and in some cases damage, as a result of what appear to be attempts to rectify idling problems by people who clearly shouldn't be allowed out on their own. Our advice would always be - check the stepper motor first, and if that doesn't do the trick then feel free to randomly twizzle the throttle position sensor or mangle the throttle body.

Flat battery
This is quite a common fault on FTOs. The OE battery is a titchy small poled unit, more suited to a Nissan Micra as opposed to a 2.0 litre V6. Unless the battery is in top condition then starting problems may occur, particularly oop in t'frozen North. If you suspect that your battery may be at fault then get it checked out professionally. Most decent motor factors will have battery testing gear.

If you do need to change your battery then you may want to consider fitting a more widely available conventionally sized unit with large poles. Both battery connections will need changing for the larger versions but you should be able to source these at the aforementioned factors. There is room in the battery tray for a much bigger battery, but a bit of jiggling about with or modification of the battery hold down clamp will be required.

Alternator faults
If your battery checks out OK but regularly becomes discharged, then you will need to check out the electrical and charging systems including the alternator. Firstly you should check that you are not inadvertently leaving on any items that could cause battery discharge. Favourites are interior lights remaining illuminated as a result of ill fitting doors or knackered courtesy light switches and we have known the interior boot light to cause problems for the same reason. An auto-electrician would be able to carry out a simple check if you suspect a spurious current drain.

If there is no obvious wiring fault, then you will need to have the alternator checked out. I'm afraid that the alternator is another weak link on the FTO - they really are a bit puny for a 2.0 V6 under typical UK conditions. Assuming that the alternator drive belt is correctly tensioned, then have a look at the voltmeter in the centre of the dash next to the time of day clock, and you should see 13v or 14v output at anything above tick-over rpm.

Put a bit of load on to the system by switching on headlights and air con and the reading shouldn't drop much below 13v. If the voltmeter reading is lower, and drops when additional electrical load is applied, then you can begin to suspect the alternator. The red light warning light with the image of a battery on the dash to the left of the rev counter should extinguish as soon as the engine starts.

If it lights up or just glows when the engine is running, then chances are you have an alternator fault. If you are still unsure then your friendly auto-electrician will be able to check the output. Please note that if you have to replace the unit, there are two main types of alternator fitted to the FTO - 2pin or 4 pin. This refers to the number of pins on the harness multi-plug that connects to the alternator. You will need to detach this fiddly push-in type plug from the alternator to identify the unit on your car.
Occasionally we have known FTO alternators to lose their marbles completely and start to over-charge - with dire consequences for the rest electrical system. Central locking, electric windows and instruments seem to be the most susceptible to damage from excessive voltage. Incidentally, poorly reconditioned alternators have been known to exhibit this fault and in one recent case the cost of the subsequent damage was enormous. The moral of the story is, and I'm not wanting to be a doom-monger here, beware of spurious units and always buy from a known source with a good reputation. Bit like us really ;-)

Removing the alternator is another matter altogether, and the Mitsubishi engineer who designed the system certainly seems to have had a sense of humour. The alternator is removed downwards, but only once all mounting brackets have been removed. It is also necessary to loosen the OSF suspension assembly sufficiently to allow the driveshaft to drop in order to gain clearance. What a guy!

If you don't have access to a vehicle lift, this is really not the sort of DIY job you want to be tackling outside on your back - and of course you just know it will be raining. For the non-technical, faint hearted, non-masochists or for those whose wrists don't swivel a full 360 degrees, we do offer a competitively priced supply and fit service.

Please note that the performance of the 4 pin alternator can influence the operation of other systems, including engine tick over and the operation of the MIVEC system. Just to complicate matters further, failures of this type can still be present even on an alternator with the correct charging output.

Alternator - important
When replacing the alternator it is essential that the male multi-pin plug on the harness is correctly located in the relevant female socket on the alternator. I know it's a bit of a bugger to get in and out, but make sure you hear/feel a proper click to tell you that the plug is fully home. A poor connection here can result in damage to the voltage regulator circuit within the alternator and this could lead to all sorts of fun and games as described in the overcharging section above.

Timing belt
The timing belt, or cambelt, on the FTO V6 should be changed at 100,000kms or approximately 62,000 miles. It is false economy to try and extend the service life of this belt. If the belt snaps then almost certainly you will be looking at bent valves as a minimum - and with 24 of them, that's a big bill. If you are unsure of the service history and/or the true mileage of your FTO, then you should really consider a belt change as soon as possible. The belt tensioner bearing should always be changed at the same time as the belt. There is also a large centre idler bearing and this should be checked for wear and replaced if required.

While you're in there, don't forget to have a squint at the water pump which is also driven by the timing belt. Obviously check for play in the shaft bearing, but in addition any evidence of corrosion, discolouration or oxidization in the immediate area are all tell-tale signs that the water pump is leaking. If ignored, this leak could eventually result in major loss of coolant and over-heating. We have also known long term coolant leaks to cause problems with the crank angle sensor and the associated 3 blade rotor which are situated directly below the water pump, resulting in ignition problems. If you end up changing the water pump, it would be false economy not to replace the aforementioned centre idler at the same time.

FTO V6 water pump

Auxiliary belts
The auxiliary belts, namely the two belts driving the PAS/AC pumps and the alternator, should be changed at the same time as the timing belt. Both of these belts have a limited life span before they start to squeak, but if either of them snaps they have an annoying habit of slicing through the wiring to the aforementioned crank angle sensor - and that's definitely something you won't be fixing at the side of the road. If your FTO suffers from repeated belt shredding, then have a close look at the main crank pulley. This is a bonded two piece affair and it has an annoying tendency to delaminate - which can cause the aforementioned belt shredding.

Auxiliary belt tensioners
The components driven by these belts - the alternator and PAS pump/AC compressor are all fixed units and the belt tension in both cases is regulated by adjustable pulleys. A high pitched whine or grumble emanating from the belt area can be a sign of wear in one or both tensioner bearings and excessive wear can eventually lead to premature belt failure.

At the risk of sounding like a complete doom monger, failure of the clutch/pulley assembly on the end of air con compressor is becoming increasingly common. If the clutch assembly seizes completely then the belt will start to slip on the a/c pulley accompanied by lots of noise and a smell of burning rubber. Cutting the belt will get you home, albeit without PAS, but a complete fix involving a new a/c clutch, or perish the thought the a/c compressor as well, will certainly get expensive.

Boring but important
Although we have been very careful in the compilation of the advice pages of our website and the content is thoroughly checked by our panel of specialists, we cannot be held responsible for any loss or damage caused if you decide to follow the advice contained herein. Please bear in mind that a job which may well be a piece of cake on a vehicle lift could easily turn into a total nightmare when lying on your back in the front street in the regulation puddle. Don't tackle any work unless you are confident that you fully understand the complexity of the job you are undertaking. Make sure that you have the correct tools to hand, always wear the appropriate protection and never, ever work under an unsupported vehicle. If you are not entirely confident that you can complete the job, then it should be entrusted to a specialist.

If you feel that there are any errors on any aspect of this or other pages of our website, or if you simply wish to comment, please call Malcolm on 0191 586 7724 or send us an email