Here's the sequence.
2 months ago
I replaced my '05 original equipment Alfa battery, and installed a new same-spec battery, 65 quid job.
to run super-cool, just the way it always has on this super best-ever from near-new car
: and that's 37K up and down the MI, M25 and round town. Regular main dealer servicing - natch. On my third cam belt now, still, better safe than sorry eh?
On this weekend
just gone, helping a friend with a totally flat battery in his 97 Cit' estate
, I connected a couple of jump leads from my brand new battery to his near-death clunker. His engine barely cranked - I figured his batt was a total gone'er. Voltmeter showed 4VDC
But what the hey?
What are friends for? I unscrewed and removed my brand new battery and put it in his car. Engine cranked up fine, and we ran it to a garage for him to buy a replacement. This done, he ran me back to my bonnet-up Alfa.
Sooo, back at my Alfa
, my never-been-a-moment's-grief-from-new-Alfa, I replaced my new battery back in situ. Apart from re-entering the radio code and nixing the alarm, all was no probs. My Alfa started on the button, ran perfectly and just worked totally as normal.
Move forward two days.
After a two day, several miles trickling 'round town with a few frosty morning starts, and the other normal local stuff, I went for the big ride south, down the M1 110 miles to M25 and onwards to Essex. As you do.
I don't know if you've ever entered the M1 southbound from the Nottingham/Derby area.
Junction 24. It's pretty hairy. You've got two entry lanes that split into no-cross zones, and two full lanes of HGVs thundering down, plus one far side fast lane - your target, and the only decent chance before everyone starts going mental - lane changing in a frenzy for the next intersection. Of course, in an Alfa, this stuff is meat and drink. Head across two lanes of HGVs, pedal to the metal, and join outside lane at what should be around 80mph thus joining the fast stream of traffic seamlessly.
Piece of ****: done it a hundred times.
Not this time:
around half way through this manoeuvre, my sweet Alfa coughs, just once, loses power, and leaves me at the mercy of a large white van, now getting bigger and bigger in the mirror as the (fortunately) attentive driver stands on his brakes... His brakes were good.
I found - don't ask me how - a gap in the inside HGV convoys, and managed, when my former good friend, but now looking like a back-stabber, yes, the very same Alfa that had just tried to kill me, had decided on a happy 56mph being the way to go, I could at least rest my beating heart and consider my options.
Next Services - 15 miles
. Hmmm. What does the steady amber engine symbol mean? Do I pull over and phone the AA/RAC, or continue and potentially trash my engine? Hmmm. Not many/any clues in the flashing InfoCentre (sic) message "MOTOR CONTROL SYSTEM FAILURE" - well, yes, I know that. How about "GO TO DEALER" - not much help there either.
What I do know is this.
Reading these forum posts a scenario can be put together, where I take my beloved, trustworthy, but murderous former friend whom we shall call ALFA, to my friendly, local Alfa independent (he's a good guy, I think - did a trouble-free camshaft belt service last year at a bit less than main dealer price), and ask him to 'run the diagnostic'.
"just a bit of muck on a spark plug - no charge"
"Oooh, that'll be the ECU - £500, mate"
And, of course the 'somewhere-inbetween' at the lower end, but when that doesn't work, moving up to the higher end of the price structure. And repeat, and repeat.
This, for all I know has been triggered - registered as a fault- solely by my helping a friend with a dead battery problem. Like they say "a friend in need..." "Will cost you money".
Now I need 'a friend' - preferably someone to offer some constructive advice here.
a) Ignore the fault
- there isn't one - the 'cough' was just the first pedal-to-the-metal moment of the cold season - it caught my summer-cruising Alfa off guard: or was instant demand for the 'beans' completely unexpected following battery re-connect possibly having cleared the memory of my normally er, enthusiastic driving?.
b) Take it to a dealer
and leave your MasterCard for ritual bashing.
c) Disconnect / reconnect the battery
d) Whatever the result, never, ever, ever, pay for 'a new ECU'
- they have never been known to fail, unlike the humans depending on them. Or getting rich from replacing them.
What do you think?
Take it to the independent for a 'diagnostic reading' (£15 plus yer VAT) or just freakingwell ignore it until the next service in February, when warning lights (seatbelts/airbags etc) are turned off as a matter of course? This car just ran normally for the rest of the journey at 70mph - 100mph-ish after this incident.
I'm not tempted to throw good money
at an annoyng little amber light, if it's just been triggered by the total voltage drop recorded when my friend tried to crank his dead car from my battery in situ, ignition off.