Well, hopefully I should know more by lunchtime today, I'm taking the Collezione one for a test drive, and will be going through the log book checking all the details. THe dealer reckons it's been serviced by an Alfa main dealer, so we shall see. Anything else I should be looking out for?
As said above the timing belt is a must. Whilst unlikely, if the car sounds like diesel when started it's probably the cam variator which is normally changed every other time the cam belt is changed. Aside from this have a look at the following.
1. Sills - If the car has been jacked up incorrectly there can be damage to the sills which can lead to problems with rust later down the line.
2. Exhaust - The back boxes can rust badly, which is very unsightly. The whole exhaust is held to the car with rubber mounts which degrade over time. I'd check these over too because it's a cheap fix and something you could get out of the dealer.
3. Suspension - Check the suspension, particularly the front which is a double wishbone setup, they do squeak after a while and if there's any play in them you might look to replace them. You're looking at around £90-100 a side including labour otherwise. I'd expect the lowers to be ok, just listen for any knocking/rumbling.
4. Bodywork - The panels are quite thin and pick up knocks easily, be extra careful in car parks where numpty motorists throw their doors open without a care in the world. I've lost count of how many I've picked up.
5. Oil/coolant - Alfa engines do use some oil and a low oil level can give you an insight into how it's been cared for. It shouldn't be drinking it's coolant but I'd check that the levels are normal, if you do buy the car try and get into the habit of checking the fluids once a week. Just for peace of mind.
I've had my 147 for almost 2 years now and they can be reliable cars, keep up with the maintenance and you should be fine. There are plenty of friendly specialists around to provide help and who sell original parts too. I hope I've covered most areas but as I own a diseasel I can't say a great deal about the TS engines. Best of luck with the purchase!
Alfaworkshop have a great guide on what to look for - http://www.alfaworkshop.co.uk/alfa_romeo_147.shtml
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