im a first time alfa romeo owner and really didnt realise what i was missing in cars till i bought one. i bought a 147 selespeed (2002) last year and have had a lot of fun in it. ( i know they are reffered to as silly speeds,
****please scroll down to the bottom if you want to avoid my sob story
however i need some advice from veteran alfa owners as i took it to a specialist initially when i bought and have been back there a couple of times since.
the specialist i took it to only does alfas not fiats or aything else they restore as well as maintain and they do have some beautiful examples of older alfas (pre 72's) that look stunning.
however i took my car in before christmas because it needed a service and i was having a couple of problems.
1) the tracking keeps coming out and despite getting it aligned properly 5 times its still not solved the problem. there are also some weird steering issues with it wandering.
2) i was getting a rattle sometimes when i throttled back, generally when the engine was warm but hadnt been running long (not when in neutral)
3) the engine was using an inordinate amount of oil. approximately 3 litres a month. i commute 50miles each way 5 days a week so its not like im just going to the shops or anything, but it shouldnt be using any oil at its ages let alone 3 litres a month
4) occasionally while sitting at traffic lights i would get an ABS/VDC fail warning which as far as i can tell turned the ABS off, this always disappeared if i switched the ignition off and restarted, and only ever happens every 2-3months and slightly more when its cold.
**im a fairly savvy car owner not massively technical, probably 3 haynes spanners. !
now the garage told me that the rattle was likely the camshaft variator and that maybe the cause of my oil problem.
so i left it with them, and they phoned me up during the day to tell me that the cambelt that was on it (which i had only had changed in april and had done 17k miles) was the wrong cambelt and that there was a continental belt on it, they suggested that i change it for a proper alfa belt and it wouldnt cost that much more. i agreed to to this and thought nothing of it. they said that everything had been sorted
when i picked the car up everything was fine.
they had changed the oil for HCX oil to see if the oil problem was better using that and they did a full service, filters plugs the lot. they also changed one of the rear lower arms because they said that was worn out.
however after 3 days the tracking was out and i got the ABS warning again. then when we had all that cold weather over christmas the car would squeal like the fanbelt was rubbing or the brand new and calibrated cambelt wasnt setup right and i still had the rattling sometimes when i lifted off.
additionally, the brakes now scrape at low speeds like the pads are worn out (rock on metal) not squeeling and can be a bit hesitant unless you stamp on them.
not a great result from a service which ended up costing me £1000, a week and a half before christmas.
i left it over christmas because they werent open and i was too busy with work and stuff.
a week after going back to work the gear selector display on the speedo started blinking in 5th then, 5th gear stopped working it would change but it wouldnt hold it in gear it kept jumping out.
so i took it back to them and left it with them and they showed my that someone had put the wrong ratio gear in it and that the syncro ring was smashed as well as the fork, and that the teeth had got worn out because it had been rubbing. so they fixed that and that cost me £550 to get that sorted.
a week later the gear selector light is now blinking again, the tracking is still out (and the tires are taking a battering because of it) the engine still sounds like a ford thats done 100k miles the brakes are soggy and make the nastiest noise when stopping at low speeds. and its drinking as much oil as petrol.
the questions i wanted to ask are these:
1)piston rings, is there a habit with the piston rings going on the 147s as the garage are now saying that the rings need changing but that will cost about £700, which im not really prepared to pay considering ive just spent £1500 with them and got nowhere.
ive also done an exhaust check and attempted to get it to smoke when accelerating hard but that doesnt work, a client of mine works for a GT2 race team as a mechanic and he said i could try soaking the pistons in a few drops of ring cleaner over night and see how much crap spews out in the morning but also that piston rings really just dont go in modern cars anymore.
2) tracking, is there anything else i can ask another mechanic to look out for in terms of why the tracking would be so bad, my tires have enough tread on them but im not prepared to change them till i know the trackings been sorted and it tracked perfectly before literally striaght as an arrow.
3) brakes, ive checked and the front and pack pads are fine there not low or anything. any ideas as to the noise
4) cambelt, was there any need to change the continental belt i had on there. it seems to me that during the whole service that was the only thing apart from the headlight bulb that i know got done.
5)ABS/VDC warning, im assuming this is a wheel sensor gone bad, but if they say they fixed it why is it still doing it.
6) can anyone recommend a good knowledgeable mechanic in the surrey area that is good with alfa romeos,
as an example of how bad it was, i spoke to them on the phone about the engine running badly before i took it in to do the gearbox the words i used were "the engines running really rough when its cold and sounds really bad first thing in the morning" when i picked the car up i was told that the CAR is running rough in the cold because the ABS is kicking in all the time. !
any help you lot can give would be appreciated and would be met with immense gratitude on my part.
i will buy an alfa for my next car, i loved the first 6months i had it. it just seems i was sold a bit of a duck. any recommendations for the 147 2.0 manual ? or will i have the same problems.