146 1.7 16v Boxer Problems - Alfa Romeo Forum
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Old 17-08-07
146Boxer's Avatar
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Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Northern Ireland
Posts: 30

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Alfa 146 1.7 16v Boxer

146 1.7 16v Boxer Problems

Hi fellow Alfa heads.

A bit of history first:

I own a 1996 146 1.7 16v Boxer which has 62k on the clock and it had the engine head and belts replaced about 2k miles ago after my head gasket went and the 'mechanic' wrecked the engine after 3 rebuilds. I am not sure if the cam variator was replaced at the time though, but i doubt it. It has no service history at all but it had a basic service and passed its MOT on November 2006 just before i bought it for £500. Below is a list of current problems with this car.

All ideas, help and suggestions will be very much apreciated.

Air Bag Light -
I have had two diagnostics carried out and neither garage have been able to correct it?

Electric Windows -
Only the sunroof and front passenger's windows work. Both rear windows worked on the odd occassion and now not all all? Any ideas on how to test same and get them going again? The driver's side just needs refitted as it falls out of its 'lifting cradle' when i operate it. Taking the door panel off breaks the speaker covers and the panels never fit quite the same. Any tips?

Engine -
129bhp? My car does not accelerate very well at all and the 0-60mph time is a very slow steady climb. I thought these cars were meant to be fast. Am i wrong? I also have problems when starting from cold and when i accelerate the engine the engine nearly stalls and splutters, the revs drop and the car slows dramatically. It runs really rough for a few seconds then everything kicks in and it takes off and all is well from then on. It also sounds like a tractor when you start it and the engine squeals and squeaks on idle which sounds akin to a loose alternator belt type sound on other cars for example. The whole car rocks from side to side when idling which makes me feel sick when sitting in the car - it this just an aspect of a flat four engine? Fuel consumption appears to be pretty dire, although i do drive it hard when i can. I seem to be forever sticking £20 in it every few days after 100 miles or so. Is this normal?

Wheels and Brakes -
I can hear a high pitched squeal from one of the wheels, it hard to tell
which one. This happens when just cruisin around and is not a braking problem, although sometimes the squeal ceases when i apply the brakes. Could it be a wheel bearing or the brake calipers not working correctly and applying the brake shoes to the discs without my input?

Gearbox -
I have driven vans with better gearboxes! By the time you switch gear you lose some revs as its never a smooth transition. The clutch is quite heavy and the gearstick travel is the ultimate reverse of short-shift! lol. Again, is this just the norm for a 1996 146 Boxer?

Stereo & speakers -
The stereo works sometimes if you switch it on and apply pressure to the the front of it - i suppose there is loose connection at the rear of same buti dont know to fix it. The rear speakers dont work at all - how can i check the wiring?

Bodywork and interior -
Can anyone recommend what products and methods to use to bring my Alfa up to some sort of decent standard. The car is a dark burgandy wine colour and is in quite good nick for its age. The headcloth is a bit knackered but i dont think there is much i can do about that.

Thanks for the help as i really need it to keep this car on the road. i dont have much money to spend on it as i have another car and motorcycle on the go already, but i would like it sorted as i enjoy the car and it isnt worth selling on.


P.S. If there are any Northern Ireland owners that can get in touch please let me know.

variator solenoid.
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Old 18-08-07
armoore's Avatar
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Location: United Kingdom
County: Surrey
Posts: 3,160

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Giulietta 170, GTV. Bo209

Re: 146 1.7 16v Boxer Problems

There isn't a variator on the boxer engine. 8V engine produces less bhp but useful torque is produced at 3 500 rpm as opposed to 4 500 rpm on 16V engine. Flat four will rock slightly but is smooth usually. Sounds as though one of the cyliders is not as it should be.
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Old 18-08-07
Bodger's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: United Kingdom
County: -
Posts: 1,428

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Alfa 156, Fiat Coupe

Re: 146 1.7 16v Boxer Problems

Engine power- Mine felt fast in 1st and 2nd gear but I had to work it hard and use the revs to make it fly and even then it didn't feel as fast as it should. The MAFs can make a difference. I have three different ones, so one is economical, one is powerful and the third is not very good at anything.

Engine spluttering- likely to be the air or water temp sensor. They are around a tenner to replace.

Engine rocking- the front mount is too weak for the power the later engines develop and has been broken on all three of the Boxers I've rebuilt or changed.

Electric windows- the cables sometimes come off their tracks and that jams the mechanism which can fuse everything and make it seem like an electrical fault.

Squeal- never encountered it but suspect the rears first. The handbrake adjuster mechanism is prone to seizure.

Gearbox- If working correctly it will not be obstructive. This could be a dragging clutch or clutch release bearing. These are weak on the Boxers

Bodywork- is covered in a clear laquer so you can go in heavy with the T-Cut to get it shiny.
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Old 29-06-08
146Boxer's Avatar
Status: -
Join Date: Aug 2007
Location: Northern Ireland
Posts: 30

Member car:

Alfa 146 1.7 16v Boxer

Re: 146 1.7 16v Boxer Problems


gave up on airbag light.
i managed to get drivers side window sort of fixed as long as i dont drop it too far.
i got rear drivers side working all of a sudden. weird
new bearing fitted on front drivers side. expensive.
i lifted the gear stick gator and gave the over complicated mechanism a spray with wd40 and that helped the notchy gear change but i still have a squeak when depressing the clutch so need some WD40 on the linkage.
i now need to change the plugs but dont how to replace them on this engine? That should help the running as def a misfire there. I need help!
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