Acceleration and Starting Problems - Page 2 - Alfa Romeo Forum
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Sounds like your flaps have been lost into the engine internals but this needs confirming.
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Your original post mentioned difficulty starting, is that still an issue ? Mine will not start first time from cold. I usually turn the key on , wait for the coil light to go off , turn the key off , turn the key on again , wait for the coil light to go off a second time then start. 100% never fails that way. If the engine is warm it will start without any waiting for coil light. If you are having problems here its easy to measure the heater plugs resistance. Mine are all good.
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Your original post mentioned difficulty starting, is that still an issue ? Mine will not start first time from cold. I usually turn the key on , wait for the coil light to go off , turn the key off , turn the key on again , wait for the coil light to go off a second time then start. 100% never fails that way. If the engine is warm it will start without any waiting for coil light. If you are having problems here its easy to measure the heater plugs resistance. Mine are all good.
I'm kind of having the problem still, but I've found if I put the clutch down and then tap the accelerator while the engine is turning, it starts pretty decently.
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Sounds like your flaps have been lost into the engine internals but this needs confirming.
Are the swirl flaps visible without removing anything (except the engine cover obviously)? The mechanic used a torch to show me what he was talking about, and as far as I could see, there were flaps on the 4 openings. I don't think he'd have been talking about sealing the flaps shut either, if they were missing.

I looked for a fingers crossed emoticon, but there is't one...
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You can't see the swirl flaps themselves as they are inside the manifold. You can see the actuator though which moves them, its like a rod joined to the four pivots. I think if a flap or more commonly the screws that hold them on fell in to the engine you would know about it because some serious damage would be done if not complete failure. The flaps should be closed at tick over and open when the accelerator is pressed. the idea is to create turbulence in the air flow to help with the fuel/air mix giving a cleaner burn and more efficiency (not needed at full throttle). The problem comes from recycled exhaust depositing soot on them eventually impeding their movement. If I remember you can move the rod by hand. Its been a while since I looked though.
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You can't see the swirl flaps themselves as they are inside the manifold. You can see the actuator though which moves them, its like a rod joined to the four pivots. I think if a flap or more commonly the screws that hold them on fell in to the engine you would know about it because some serious damage would be done if not complete failure. The flaps should be closed at tick over and open when the accelerator is pressed. the idea is to create turbulence in the air flow to help with the fuel/air mix giving a cleaner burn and more efficiency (not needed at full throttle). The problem comes from recycled exhaust depositing soot on them eventually impeding their movement. If I remember you can move the rod by hand. Its been a while since I looked though.
Well that's odd... What the hell was I looking at then?! lol. He said there were 4 openings, and shone the torch in for me to see. When I read about swirl flaps I thought that must be what he was talking about (he didn't name what it was he was talking about). It is the carbon build up that has stopped the flaps/valves that he was talking about from closing.
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Shadowarcher, from what your mechanic has said, you have a metal inlet manifold with an external linkage to the swirl flaps. That type is relatively benign, the pivots leak (which loses air and causes rich running = black exhaust smoke), and the actuator rod pops off the tops of the flap pivots, so they don't work as intended.

You can get repair kits to fix the leaky pivot issues and the bar detaching (ebay). Or you can remove them entirely (which is best done in conjunction with deleting the EGR valve). Removal does mean the inlet manifold has to come off and the pivot holes sealed, usually by welding.

As a temporary fix the flaps can be locked in position and the pivots sealed, using silicone sealant or similar. But they must be locked open, not closed as your mechanic suggested. When they are closed, half the inlet ports are blocked, which is fine at tickover and low revs and causes 'swirl' turbulence for better combustion, but at >1,500rpm or so will prevent the engine breathing properly and have a dire effect on power.

In fact it's a reasonable guess that is what has happened. The actuator bar has fallen off and the flaps have rotated into a closed position, so the engine is now working with 4 small inlet ports instead of 8 and has an much power as a lawnmower. Plus, you're probably losing boost through worn pivots.

Long term, it's best to remove the manifold, remove the flaps, clean the interior of the manifold which will be full of carbon/oil gum, delete the EGR and have it mapped out. But as a quick bodge, sealant or hot melt glue will be fine and it won't cause any damage to run like that indefinitely.

You will have to keep the actuator motor connected regardless, else you'll get an MCSF and fault code unless you have the flaps mapped out, which is usually done at the same time as mapping out a deleted EGR.

The other later type, metal flaps in a black plastic manifold on CF4 16v engines from ~2006, fail too, but they fall off and cause bad engine damage. The linkage is not visible, as it's built into the underside of the manifold. It doesn't fall off, but the whole thing is a hand grenade, and inevitable. They need to be deleted ASAP before they delete some valves/pistons.
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Shadowarcher, from what your mechanic has said, you have a metal inlet manifold with an external linkage to the swirl flaps. That type is relatively benign, the pivots leak (which loses air and causes rich running = black exhaust smoke), and the actuator rod pops off the tops of the flap pivots, so they don't work as intended.

You can get repair kits to fix the leaky pivot issues and the bar detaching (ebay). Or you can remove them entirely (which is best done in conjunction with deleting the EGR valve). Removal does mean the inlet manifold has to come off and the pivot holes sealed, usually by welding.

As a temporary fix the flaps can be locked in position and the pivots sealed, using silicone sealant or similar. But they must be locked open, not closed as your mechanic suggested. When they are closed, half the inlet ports are blocked, which is fine at tickover and low revs and causes 'swirl' turbulence for better combustion, but at >1,500rpm or so will prevent the engine breathing properly and have a dire effect on power.

In fact it's a reasonable guess that is what has happened. The actuator bar has fallen off and the flaps have rotated into a closed position, so the engine is now working with 4 small inlet ports instead of 8 and has an much power as a lawnmower. Plus, you're probably losing boost through worn pivots.

Long term, it's best to remove the manifold, remove the flaps, clean the interior of the manifold which will be full of carbon/oil gum, delete the EGR and have it mapped out. But as a quick bodge, sealant or hot melt glue will be fine and it won't cause any damage to run like that indefinitely.

You will have to keep the actuator motor connected regardless, else you'll get an MCSF and fault code unless you have the flaps mapped out, which is usually done at the same time as mapping out a deleted EGR.

The other later type, metal flaps in a black plastic manifold on CF4 16v engines from ~2006, fail too, but they fall off and cause bad engine damage. The linkage is not visible, as it's built into the underside of the manifold. It doesn't fall off, but the whole thing is a hand grenade, and inevitable. They need to be deleted ASAP before they delete some valves/pistons.
Thank you for that. My car is 2005, so maybe it just missed the falling off flaps! Some of what you said rings true, except for the low revs vs high revs bit, as it's at low revs that I have the problem. As soon as I hit around 2-2200 revs, the power suddenly pushes me into my seat.

Also, there was a fair bit of black smoke when the revs went over about 2500 (which I think has left more than a few cyclists unhappy after I've overtaken), but when he disconnected the motor (or whatever he did to it - there are no warning lights), there is now no black smoke unless I rev it way way up.
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So, I'm a step further forward. This morning was dry, so I changed my side light bulb More importantly, I disconnected the MAF sensor and drive up the road and back. It's definitely the problem, because even pulling out of the drive I could feel the power that's been lost for so long! Weirdly, roughly 40% of that power remained when I plugged the MAF sensor back in and went to work. So next step is to clean the MAF sensor and see if that does it. It's a 2005 car and I don't see any receipts in the bulky repair history for a MAF, so it may just need replacing.

Assuming the MAF was the only problem, should simply disconnecting it for that brief test have brought back 100% of my power? Because, although it made a big difference, I'm sure the car is still capable of more than it gave me.

I also took a closer look at the swirl flaps, and I do indeed see the little bar controlling them now. Numbers 1, 2, and 4 seem ok, but number 3 is an absolute mess. Gunky black and creamy coloured...gunk all around it.
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And now a step back. I bought the MAF cleaner, took out the battery again and...can't get off the plate the battery sits on. So I'll be paying the mechanic even more money just to clean a part for me At least I have to take it back in for the tensioner pulley anyway.
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Is it stuck? Once you lift out the rubber mat there are just some 13mm spanner bolts to remove. Easy. Lift it up with the electronic box etc still connected and tie it out of the way , its not a totally remove.
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I don't know if it's stuck or if it's just that I don't have a good enough tool. I used what I use for all the other bolts, and couldn't get these ones to move. But I couldn't get a good angle on them. I have a spanner, but I think it's too big to get at at least one of the bolts - but I may try again if it's dry in the morning.
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Ratchet with socket is best. some of them are recessed but not too deep.
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Actually, now you say that, I realise I do have a ratchet. It's in my boot, where I put a box of tools 'just in case', and then forgot all about it So maybe I'll get the plate out after all!
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Wow , just checked out my swirl flaps tonight. The actuator rod is completely disconnected. I took some photos.

In the first you can see down behind the heater plugs , the zig zag shaped rod lying on its side. this is meant to be connected to the swirl flap end. you can see the black connector on the end of the rod. This is probably what your garage bloke was shining a torch on.

In the second you can see the swirl flap end , it looks like a black oval with two dots on it . This is what the rod is meant to be connected to. You can see that in the fourth photo clearer.

With a screw driver I could reach down and move the flap by gently pushing the black oval. 3 moved nicely but the 4th (3rd from the right) is stuck. There's black ooze coming from it too. This is probably the reason the rod popped off , I have set them all open for now and canny wait to rip it apart this weekend.

Happy in a way , if I fix this then more fastness and smoothness
Attached Images
File Type: jpg swirl rod.jpg (136.2 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg swirl rod 1.jpg (107.8 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg swirl rod 2.jpg (98.8 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg swirl rod 3.jpg (140.1 KB, 10 views)
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Yours is a lot cleaner than mine! Must not have broken for as long.

I've just come back in from trying once again to get the MAF sensor out. I got a step further with the ratchet, but there's simply no way I can get the battery plate out. The cable connected to the plate and to the fuse box are too short. So I hate to pay yet more money out, but it's going to have to go to the mechanic again anyway for the tensioner.

And a brand new problem. The negative battery cable connector won't tighten any more and it just popped off on the way home. Thankfully it didn't come all the way off, the dash just went blank for a second and came back, and I knew what it was. So I was able to just pull over and put it back on. But what if that happens halfway round a roundabout or halfway through pulling onto a road :s

So can those be replaced at all easily? I'm beginning to realise 'easy' is not a word that suits Alfas, but I can hope...
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Certainly sounds troublesome. All known issues really but when they all happen at once it's rather depressing and overwhelming. Especially if you need your daily driver and winter is approaching fast. My jtdm 156 has over 140,000miles now. Went through an expensive patch around 110000 to 120000. Now it's reliable but slowly rusting to pieces. The mechanicals can take big miles.
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Certainly sounds troublesome. All known issues really but when they all happen at once it's rather depressing and overwhelming. Especially if you need your daily driver and winter is approaching fast. My jtdm 156 has over 140,000miles now. Went through an expensive patch around 110000 to 120000. Now it's reliable but slowly rusting to pieces. The mechanicals can take big miles.
The worst part - other than not having the money for all this - is that I only bought the car a few months ago! And it's my first car
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Has the battery clamp bolt got damaged threads ? If so another is very cheap on ebay or just replace it with a bolt you already have. Clamps can be bought on there too if you need the whole thing.

It is tricky to lift the battery box. If you have all the bolts out then some of the cables need pushed over and it should go up . Lift from the front towards the back.

Its a bummer you are having problems with your first car but kind of cool too that its an alfa. I have had lots of problems with mine but nothing I couldnt fix myself and with great help from this forum. It's a bit of an education tbh. Have patience and a bit of tenacity and I'm sure you will be rewarded
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Yes, I wouldn't want to change it for anything else (except an Aston Martin) for my first car. I like to know when to quit though, and I'm giving up on that battery plate! I don't know about yours, but on mine, some of the cables at the back are attached to the plate, not just the fuse box. But I also took a good look to see if I could maybe get it out through the gap I was able to make, and found that one of the bolts is down in a gap so narrow that there's no way I can get any of my tools in to get it out. So even if I did manage to get the plate out after all that I'd have only been met with another obstacle, lol.

I intend to do as much of the work towards getting it out as possible while the mechanic works on the tensioner, if I can. That way, maybe I can get him to charge me less!

As for the battery clamp, I can't quite see what the problem is. I don't think it's a problem with the thread, as I've been able to tighten and loosen it before. There's a bit of plastic in between the two side of the clamp (between the nut and the bolt head) that might be preventing it from tightening properly. But it's meant to be there, so maybe not.
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Acceleration and Starting Problems

To get the metal battery tray out, the fuse box needs to be removed first.

Also, when you get to the MAF, there are 2 different types - sealed and unsealed, depending on CF3 or 4 engine you have. One of them is a bit of a bugger to get too, to spray your cleaner on it.

If you need to buy a new maf, only buy a bosch. Not cheap either.

Some of your cars power will be leaking through those leaky swirl flap holes. You can do a bodge job on them to seal them - just depends if you want to spend the cash to get it done properly and get the flaps removed and sealed.


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No, not cheap. Although I did see one being sold by an Irish parts company, Bosch, the right one for my car, for just over 100. Then the other GT version for just over 300.

I'm confused about the flaps thing now. Two people have now said that they should be sealed shut, and two people have said they should be open.
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battery tray isn't so bad once you've done it a few times.and in the last two weeks I've had to do it about 10 times.
Once you've disconnected the terminals and the battery retaining piece and strap if fitted lift the battery out.
You then pull the rubber grommet that is round the wiring entry point of the battery tray junction box -and also holds the halves together-, out along the wiring a bit so you can lift off the top section. Them with a 10mm socket you can undo the fat red positive terminal that comes from the battery connector.
After that push the front clips and flip the fuse/relay tray up at the front and disconnect the big black connector for the fans right in the middle of the underside and push it out of the hole its wires come in through. Once the junction box is flipped up vertical it will lift out of its housing if like mine one of the hinge sockets is broken, or you can disconnect all the plugs under there and take the junction box out of the car still attached to the tray. beware there is sometimes a screw connecting the airbox to the bottom of the battery tray and Sometimes there is a single black wire that comes in the fan wire hole, runs through the junction box housing and out the other side. It needs tracing/following disconnecting and re-routing outside the housing or you can't remove it. If yours is already outside the tray or there's no sign of it at all, the housing will come out with the battery tray when the time comes as it's the only thing its attached to, to all intents and purposes it is part of the battery tray.
Next open up the cable tidy at the back of the battery tray by pushing a flat bladed screwdriver into the jaws and prising them open, all those wires are now free to move but watch out for the trickiest bit, the reversing light connector and its wire. This little monkey sometimes goes through a clip on the back side of the battery tray or even the underside so you can't see it easily from the front and is hidden by all that wiring you've just released from its clip. sometimes it goes down the back corner and through a little hole in the bottom corner of the tray. Either way it will need disconnecting from the switch before you pull the tray out or you'll rip the wires out of the connector and risk shorting fuse F35 and BELIEVE ME CHAOS WILL ENSUE IF YOU DO THAT! Just been an F35 victim myself. You need to reach through the hole in the bottom of the tray and under the back of it to flip the catch on the black connector with a yellow ring round it that is sticking up out of the gearbox casing and push it up and off the switch. it's just further than my fingers will go without me having to push my hand painfully against the edges of the battery box hole but if your hands are more ET than my Pat Jennings' you might find it easier.
After that you can undo the 4 battery tray retaining bolts with a 13mm socket. The bottom one in the depths at the front only needs undoing a couple of turns as its open beneath it and the tray will lift off it with the bolt left in place. Then you can undo the jubilee clip on the top hose from the "throttle" if you think it'll help and holding that and the positive battery connector and its wiring out of the way with your left hand you should be able to easily lift the battery tray out from the front with the other, even easier if you're left handed. but remember to look for anything that's holding the Reversing light switch wire as you do or you could still pull the connector off the end of the wires.

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No, not cheap. Although I did see one being sold by an Irish parts company, Bosch, the right one for my car, for just over 100. Then the other GT version for just over 300.



I'm confused about the flaps thing now. Two people have now said that they should be sealed shut, and two people have said they should be open.

The flaps close at low revs to create more swirl effect and open at high revs. Can't imagine why you would want to lock them in the closed position.


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The flaps close at low revs to create more swirl effect and open at high revs. Can't imagine why you would want to lock them in the closed position.


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I have no problems at high revs - it's the low revs I have trouble with. Could that be it? He didn't know at the time that the MAF was what was taking my power away.
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