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(Post Link) post #1 of 86 Old 30-08-16 Thread Starter
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reviving the £100 156

Hello all,
I have recently taken the plunge with Alfa ownership and treated myself to a 2000-year 156 2.0 TSpark. Dark metallic blue, blue leather interior, 140K on the clock, no MoT and it wouldnít start, mine for the princely sum of £100.
The car had sat idle for 18 months or so before I got to it. Jump leads got it turning over but not starting. A good, charged battery was fitted, I added 5 litres of fresh petrol, waited 30 mins, ďclickedĒ the fuel solenoid under the seat, cleaned the contacts on the relays in front of the battery tray and crossed my fingers. She burst into life and ran quite well, certainly well enough for a 5 mile drive home.
There were a number of faults with it (as you would expect from a £100, MoT lapsed car that has sat idle for over a year), couple of bulbs out, two tyres are cracked, stiff handles etc. The EML was on initially but went out without my doing anything. The only remaining warning light I have is the airbag light. I have checked and cleaned/cable-tied the connectors under the seat and will get the codes cleared when it goes for MoT (my tame tester has a 156 and has the necessary diagnostic software Ė I donít have any diag software of my own)
While out for a test drive to check the brakes, I noticed that revs were fine up to 4000rpm-ish, the car struggled to rev after that. A bit of google-fu suggested that I try an ECU reset followed by a throttle reset. I completed the ECU reset and then went for a thrash. The car will now rev to 7000+ but it really struggles below 3000rpm, the idle is erratic, the car will stall, and I find myself riding the clutch to prevent a stall one moment and then in the blink of an eye, I am doing 5000rpm. Almost undriveable in its current state, which seems odd to me given its almost docile nature before the reset.
A bit more research suggested that I should have driven the car a little more sensibly following the ECU reset, as the ECU is re-learning the driving style. This was yesterday (Monday), I have left the battery disconnected overnight and will try another ECU reset this evening when I get home from work. I havenít looked at or cleaned the MAF yet, same goes for the throttle body & actuator. Given that it was laid up for so long with a discharged (but still connected) battery, I was wondering if the learning parameters are now all over the place?
I havenít looked any further yet, there is a wealth of info about (this forum looks to be an excellent resource). With it being such a cheap car, Iím loathe to go throwing money at it until it has been for itís MoT and I have a clearer idea of how good/bad the car actually is. When Iíve got the fail sheet in my hand, Iíll start to work out how much money I can afford to throw at this car.
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The very best of luck with it
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As you've done an ECU reset, it should be running on default parameters. Check for any air leaks on the induction, and maybe try running with the MAF unplugged - if the driving characteristics change then the MAF is likely to be at least part of the issue......
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Sounds good. The key check you need to make is floorpan corrosion - get it to a decent MOT place and get them to poke it thoroughly. If good, get it undersealed and enjoy driving it.

Idle problems - per above, sounds a lot like an air leak - the convoluted hose is a favourite for cracking underneath, you can't see it from on top. Easy temp fix with gaffa tape.
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thanks gents, I'll check the hose tomorrow. I tried another ECU reset this evening when I got home, and the car would start, run for maybe 1 second maximum and then cut out. After 4 or 5 goes of this, I blipped the throttle and attempted to "feather" the throttle and iron out the revs. Nearly impossible, the revs swung from 500 to 5000 & back again regardless of what my right foot was doing! I did notice that the fuel gauge was fluctuating wildly, the car has had £15 put in it in a week and travelled 20 miles. The gauge seems to be alternating between a quarter and empty (complete with warning light) while parked on the flat. Most odd.
I got it moved (barely) and have left it for the evening. I'll check a few more physical things tomorrow, the air hoses's first of all. Given the 18 months of inactivity, there will be all sorts of odd flaws as she wakes up. Any hints gratefully accepted though!
It seems odd to me that, in the week I have owned it, it has gone from great low revs but no top end, to no low revs but great top end. Everything seems to be in there, if I can get it all in the right sequence then I'm certain it will be a bonnie motor. I suppose it has to be a sensor that is preventing it all coming together.
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Could be the batterys dead or dying .. that can cause all manner of odd events. Sitting for 18 months wouldn't help.

Could also be the idle actuator motor is now out of sync with the ecu. I take it your ECU reset was just taking away the power? Doesn't always work .. I had to use AlfaDiag (now MultiECUScan) to reset mine properly which also allows you to properly reset the idle actuator .. and sometimes you have to do it more than once. And of course someone could have opened the throttle manually which may have busted the actuator gears anyway.

cheers, Gary

HIS: ex-1998 156 2.0 TSpark with Sport Pack 2, sunroof and hi-level spoiler in Alfa Rosso. V6 intake mod, clear side repeaters and Zeatek undertray. 10th Sep 1998 to 12th Jan 2017

HERS: 2009 MiTo 1.4 95bhp Turismo arrived 21st November in Techno Grey with colour-coded headlight surrounds.

My Alfa156 Web Site - how-to's, piccies, links, useful stuff, etc.
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Some multiecuscan scan cables (£15 or so) are a really good idea. You can read fault codes etc with the free version, takes a lot of the guesswork out of it.
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Could be the batterys dead or dying .. that can cause all manner of odd events. Sitting for 18 months wouldn't help.

Could also be the idle actuator motor is now out of sync with the ecu. I take it your ECU reset was just taking away the power? Doesn't always work .. I had to use AlfaDiag (now MultiECUScan) to reset mine properly which also allows you to properly reset the idle actuator .. and sometimes you have to do it more than once. And of course someone could have opened the throttle manually which may have busted the actuator gears anyway.
my bold. The original battery was beyond saving and is going to the tip. The battery currently fitted is good one (it starts my 5.0litre Galaxie) but may be past it's best. I'm guessing that the Alfa can be choosy with it's batteries?

Yes, that's right. While the car idles to a degree, actually attempting to move it is a different story. It "bogs" down, threatens to stall, the revs seem to fluctuate wildly and I need to slip the clutch to prevent stalling.

I had read up on the throttle body cleaning tips, which I think can lead to damage to the actuator? Judging from the state of the car, I doubt very much that anyone has been in there, it's hard to describe but the level of overall neglect but it makes me think that the previous owner might have topped the oil up once a year, regardless of if the car needed it or not. And don't ask about the state of the interior...

My plan is:-
Clean the MAF
Check/repair the air ducting
Clean the throttle body

Followed by:-
ECU reset
Throttle reset

My tester has all the necessary software to diag' it (he's an alfa owner) but at present, I doubt I could even drive it to his station, and he's only 3 miles away.
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My tester has all the necessary software to diag' it (he's an alfa owner) but at present, I doubt I could even drive it to his station, and he's only 3 miles away.
His diagnostics tools should be portable enough to come to you.

Have you checked the spark plugs? Given it a basic service?
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His diagnostics tools should be portable enough to come to you.

Have you checked the spark plugs? Given it a basic service?
I hadn't thought of that, I'll ask him tonight is he can do a house visit.

Not pulled the plugs yet, or serviced it. As I said in my first post, initially the car ran fine up to 4000ish rpm before struggling and following the ECU reset, it revs fine above that but below it, she idles erractically and stalls. The engine has been fine at both ends of the rev scale, just not at the same time :-).

I can't see that being down to the spark plugs. Unless these engines are really sensitive to plugs but even then, it burst happily into life after 18 months inactivity. If ever the plugs were going to fail, it would have been at that point.
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I'd be thinking of changing the cam belt before I went too much further - sitting around for ages is not a good thing for belts.
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I had read up on the throttle body cleaning tips, which I think can lead to damage to the actuator?
Take the idle actuator off first! 2000 model: throttle cable or fly-by-wire? My '98 has a cable and so I took the throttle body off, twisted it around (you can now hold the butterfly shut) and removed the actuator (3 torx screws), and unhooked the throttle cable. Then gave the throttle a good clean with lots of carb cleaner and paper towels. As long as you don't move the throttle butterfly with the actuator in place you should be OK. Then put it back in the reverse order with the actuator going on last, and follow it up with a complete reset with a diag system: ECU, idle actuator and then the throttle-reset (90 sec trick) .. possible the last two a couple of times!

Also check the hoses that come off the cam cover and go to the throttle intake hose AND the one you can't see that goes to the inlet manifold behind the throttle body.

If you want, have a look on my website link where I did a write-up of the fun and games I had before I found out I was missing a spring loaded valve in one of those emissions hoses!

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My plan is:-
Clean the MAF
ONLY use a PCB cleaner or something similar that evaporates and leaves no trace. But at this stage, sort the throttle. Busting the MAF will only complicate things!

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Originally Posted by TaffMGF View Post
Check/repair the air ducting
New ones come up on fleabay now and again!


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Originally Posted by TaffMGF View Post
My tester has all the necessary software to diag' it (he's an alfa owner) but at present, I doubt I could even drive it to his station, and he's only 3 miles away.
Might need a few resets .. I think when I had throttle problems I did about 4-5 resets before it eventually settled down.

The MAF won't show up with a fault unless it is completely dead .. "been there, got the T-shirt". But unplugging it will prove it is dying as you can't normally get full power, but it revs through the range without one (EML light comes on and goes off when you plug it back in!)
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Subscribing to this one....

Love a project like this.

As above, first job is to check the floor pan. Not much point in doing anything else if its shot ~(or you are handy with a welder!)

Before you know it, you will be £2k down but in love.....!
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It's the floor pan on mine that is keeping it off the road .. but not the usual rear floor .. just inboard of the sills along side the front seats .. near the standard jacking points. And both inner wings behind the front brake pipe/hose connections!!

The floor rust appears to have been from damage from being jacked/lifted in the wrong place .. and that could only have been at the dealers for servicing, or tyre fitters [and I used to hang around to watch them and "advise" them where to lift it] .. my money's on the former!!!


So I have three choices:

1) Pay someone to weld it
2) Buy a MIG and learn
3) Say bye-bye!! (I am buying a new car but that would be available until next March now! So it will be for sale around then or before ... ??? )

It's a '98, with 210k on clock (legit!) and other than a seized rear caliper (hand-brake) is running perfectly!! It's a SportPack 2 with cloth Recaros and I've had it since new! Regularly does high 30s MPG and has just had new head gasket and all belts.

Decisions, decisions ..
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Not pulled the plugs yet.
Ok, before you do ANYTHING else, take the coils out and see if the Spark Plug tubes are filled with oil or water. If any of them are, (and on older unmaintained cars they always are usually) it can cause everything from rough running, stalling, misfires to just about everything.

And its a quick no cost check.

Baz
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Take the idle actuator off first! 2000 model: throttle cable or fly-by-wire? My '98 has a cable and so I took the throttle body off, twisted it around (you can now hold the butterfly shut) and removed the actuator (3 torx screws), and unhooked the throttle cable. Then gave the throttle a good clean with lots of carb cleaner and paper towels. As long as you don't move the throttle butterfly with the actuator in place you should be OK. Then put it back in the reverse order with the actuator going on last, and follow it up with a complete reset with a diag system: ECU, idle actuator and then the throttle-reset (90 sec trick) .. possible the last two a couple of times!

Also check the hoses that come off the cam cover and go to the throttle intake hose AND the one you can't see that goes to the inlet manifold behind the throttle body.

If you want, have a look on my website link where I did a write-up of the fun and games I had before I found out I was missing a spring loaded valve in one of those emissions hoses!

ONLY use a PCB cleaner or something similar that evaporates and leaves no trace. But at this stage, sort the throttle. Busting the MAF will only complicate things!

New ones come up on fleabay now and again!

Might need a few resets .. I think when I had throttle problems I did about 4-5 resets before it eventually settled down.

The MAF won't show up with a fault unless it is completely dead .. "been there, got the T-shirt". But unplugging it will prove it is dying as you can't normally get full power, but it revs through the range without one (EML light comes on and goes off when you plug it back in!)
I've had a good mooch at your pages, thanks for those. I don't know if mine is cable or a wire to be honest with you. I suspect it's a fly-by-wire, given the difficulty I had trying to feather the throttle. Bone question but is there an obvious way of checking?

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Originally Posted by bazzbazz View Post
Ok, before you do ANYTHING else, take the coils out and see if the Spark Plug tubes are filled with oil or water. If any of them are, (and on older unmaintained cars they always are usually) it can cause everything from rough running, stalling, misfires to just about everything.

And its a quick no cost check.

Baz
Good call, I've got the shiny cover off, I'll pull the plugs at the weekend and clean everything out.

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Originally Posted by alfabeat View Post
Subscribing to this one....

Love a project like this.

As above, first job is to check the floor pan. Not much point in doing anything else if its shot ~(or you are handy with a welder!)

Before you know it, you will be £2k down but in love.....!
Got my own mig welder, mate, essential as an X1/9 owner... Point taken about the floor.

My aim is to get it running well enough to get it to my tame tester. He's also an Alfa fan and he's going to check my codes, clear up what we can and then get it on the ramp for it's test. That's the breaking point, to my mind. Running issues aside (and in the last week it's ran fine at both ends of it's rev range - it has to be a sensor or something simple), if there is serious rust in it or it needs £500's worth of bushes & rod ends, then I'll stop and think again. At present, all I'm aware of it needing are two tyres, rear exhaust rubbers (ordered) and getting the airbag light turned off.

On a comedy note, I spoke to the lady I bought it off about a CD she thought was stuck in the stereo and thought to myself "why not?". So I asked her out to supper and I'm seeing her on sunday. She did ask that I pick her up in the X1/9 though.
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Sounds like a great (and brave) project. I hope the car (and lady) turn out to be structurally sound so it's worth your while taking further.
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I don't know if mine is cable or a wire to be honest with you. I suspect it's a fly-by-wire, given the difficulty I had trying to feather the throttle. Bone question but is there an obvious way of checking?
drive by wire is a more simple throttle by looking at it - only has 1 electric plug into the plastic part (no visible moving parts):
http://www.actronics.eu/en/wp-conten...ottle-body.jpg

The cable throttle has the cable on the one side and the Throttle Position sensor on the other side - it looks a bit more complicated (with more moving parts)
Throttle Body Photo by stockdam | Photobucket
http://s22.photobucket.com/user/q205...eBody.jpg.html
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drive by wire is a more simple throttle by looking at it - only has 1 electric plug into the plastic part (no visible moving parts):
http://www.actronics.eu/en/wp-conten...ottle-body.jpg

The cable throttle has the cable on the one side and the Throttle Position sensor on the other side - it looks a bit more complicated (with more moving parts)
Throttle Body Photo by stockdam | Photobucket
ThrottleBody.jpg Photo by q205 | Photobucket
Thank you, I'll check & confirm when I get home.
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Ok, before you do ANYTHING else, take the coils out and see if the Spark Plug tubes are filled with oil or water. If any of them are, (and on older unmaintained cars they always are usually) it can cause everything from rough running, stalling, misfires to just about everything.

And its a quick no cost check.

Baz
Had a POETS afternoon so had some free time to fiddle with the car. Re-connected the battery, tried it and she fired up, ran for less than a second & then cut out. This was repeated half a dozen times before I gave it up as a bad job. I disconnected the MAF and whipped off the air hose between the filter & throttle body and checked it, a bit grubby but not 'minging'. Also appears to be intact, no splits or anything.

Next stop was the plugs. They are fun, aren't they? Eventually got all the coil-packs and leads out of the way, number ones plug bores were both full of oil. Cleaned that out, then pulled all eight plugs, cleaned them off checked the gap and stuck them back in. And then thought to myself "I'll just try that". It fired up first time and ran like a dream, no fluctuation of revs. A bit of smoke but that's down to some of the oil that got into number one bore. It stopped soon enough.

Great, I've fixed it! So I switched her off, refitted the air hose and MAF. Fired her up and she ran for a second before cutting out. Same happened with repeated restarts.

So I have disconnected the MAF and she runs like a dream. Steady idle, came up to working temp as expected, ran like a dream on the test drive and full range of revs. By ****** does she take off!

So it looks like my MAF is shagged. Typical, I need an £85 part for a £100 car! oh well, at least she is driveable. I'll get her to the garage, have a diag session and an MoT before I invest in a MAF. No point spunking £85 out if my floorpan is rusted out and all my bushes are shagged (slight clonk from rear left under hard acceleration)
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So it looks like my MAF is shagged. Typical, I need an £85 part for a £100 car! oh well, at least she is driveable. I'll get her to the garage, have a diag session and an MoT before I invest in a MAF. No point spunking £85 out if my floorpan is rusted out and all my bushes are shagged (slight clonk from rear left under hard acceleration)
Just whatever you do, don't get a cheap pattern MAF. Either treat her to a new Bosch MAF or if on a budget, a good second hand Bosch MAF.
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Just whatever you do, don't get a cheap pattern MAF. Either treat her to a new Bosch MAF or if on a budget, a good second hand Bosch MAF.
Those £22 ones from China no good?

I am on a budget (it's a £100 car after all), so genuine question. I accept that the Bosch one is the one to go for. What's the issue with the cheap pattern ones? Do they last a year and then start playing up? Come with faults? Poor build quality?

The reason I ask is this; If it's a "they only last a year or so" thing, I can take that on the chin at the moment, get it roadworthy on a cheap one and scrape together the funds for a Bosch one further down the line.
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Those £22 ones from China no good?
Some are good, some are absolute crap, the trouble is working out which is which, not an easy task given you have no idea who made what in the Chinese market.

Grab a second hand one from a reputable wreckers, most give 30 day or more warranty with such items (in Australia anyway) and you will know instantly you take it for a drive if its working ok or not.
If its not, most wreckers will swap it for another if it is.

Watch the oil down #1 Spark Plug tube, With Twinsparks its usually from mis-pouring oil in the filler cap and it runs straight into the tube.

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Some are good, some are absolute crap, the trouble is working out which is which, not an easy task given you have no idea who made what in the Chinese market.

Grab a second hand one from a reputable wreckers, most give 30 day or more warranty with such items (in Australia anyway) and you will know instantly you take it for a drive if its working ok or not.
If its not, most wreckers will swap it for another if it is.

Watch the oil down #1 Spark Plug tube, With Twinsparks its usually from mis-pouring oil in the filler cap and it runs straight into the tube.

Baz
good steer, thanks Baz.

Anyone know a good Alfa breaker in the west country?
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Those £22 ones from China no good?

I am on a budget (it's a £100 car after all), so genuine question. I accept that the Bosch one is the one to go for. What's the issue with the cheap pattern ones? Do they last a year and then start playing up? Come with faults? Poor build quality?

The reason I ask is this; If it's a "they only last a year or so" thing, I can take that on the chin at the moment, get it roadworthy on a cheap one and scrape together the funds for a Bosch one further down the line.
The other way around really, their durability seems fine but its the calibration, they don't give the same voltage output as the Bosch sensor for a given airflow, so it tends to cause flatspots and hesitation etc, which the ECU then tries to correct via enriching/leaning off the mixture based on what it sees from the lambda sensor but it never quite gets it right. You'd almost be better off running with the sensor unplugged (ECU will assume some default values) than using the pattern MAF sensor.
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