Too many problems!!! :mad:(Sensors, Motors, Pumps, Electrical) - Alfa Romeo Forum
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Too many problems!!! :mad:(Sensors, Motors, Pumps, Electrical)

Hello everyone.
My 155 seems to be giving me all the headaches in the world although I treat her with respect and cherish her like a girlfriend!!
First off, a bit of background info:
I seem to have suffered all of the problems of the entire forum all together and all in one go!!!

At 44k mls I burnt-out a valve on cylinder no.3 whilst doing 130mph..
I traced this by first disconnecting each injector to see whether one of these had gone even if it is very unlikely since they are very reliable.. it could have been an electrical gremlin but this would have been recorded by the ECU; anyway, cylinder no.3 seemed to be the problem) I did a compression test on all four cylinders.. very interesting readings.. they seemed to vary a lot between cyl to cyl and no.3 registered a big fat zero!!! OH NO!!! I proceeded taking the cyl-head off and got to work!!! Fortunately for me it looked like I just burnt out a valve and the chunks went through the exhaust port rather than in the chamber so the piston was fine. I put the head and all ancillaries in the hot-wash to loosen up the carbon deposits on the head; everything came out clean like the day it was first assembled. I cleaned the pent-roof chamber and exhaust ports with a brass drill-bit this looked fine. All the valves were cleaned with a wire brush on a bench grinder and then inspected: I had to replace the remaining three valves above cyl no.3 since they were heavily pitted on the valve to valve seat interface (chamfered edge of the valve). I then lapped in all of the valves once again (that took me 16hrs alone!!!). I proceeded to change all 3 engine belts and the two adjustable pulleys since these seemed to be a known weakness of the car (PS if one isn't made of white-plastic and the other hasn't got a thin-blue ring around its circumference I would suggest you change it pronto!) I inspected the pistons' crowns and the cylinder sleeves and they looked in very good condition. I proceeded reassembling the head with fresh cyl-head stretch-bolts (highly recommended!) and then had a look at the cams... Oh no... both of them looked worn (all the lobes were quite squared off, purticularly on cyl-no 3). I had to change both cams and hdraulic tappets for a 2nd hand set. The cam-variator was also replaced since this seems to be another known weakness (if the engine sound like a diesel when you lift-off the throttle at high rpm in 1st or 2nd gear it is best to replace it). The engine was then professionally timed by a friend of mine who had the required cam-locking caps etc..
I sandblasted and resprayed with black hammerite all of the coolant and powersteering pipes. I replaced the steel Modine oil cooler for a later Aluminium one (more efficient and won't corrode) since the watersprays killed-off the steel one as a result of the front plastic airdam cracking and coming detached from the vehicle. This was never replaced since it would have gone again due to the combination of speed bumps and how low it sits!
The oil filter, air filter and fuel filter were changed for new, genuine items.
Everything was put back together along with brand new water hoses (all of them!). I used Oetiker clips instead of jubilees since these do not seal evenly around the circumference of the hose and might actually cause leaks and damage the hose itself. Oetikers are more expensive but they offer a constant 360degree seal along with a spring so they can cope with expansion and contraction of the hoses due to the varying temperatures of the coolant.
All lubricants were changed for recommended items except for the engine oil since I preferred to use a fully sinthetic Castrol RS 0W-40 (I do NOT recommend MOBIL). I also used ZX1 Extralube additive to all fluids including the coolant (PS dilute coolant with de-ionised water if you don't want your water pump to look like you kettle!).
Finally the engine is running again with brand new sparkplugs too!!!
The engine sounds wonderful and feels a lot smoother, quieter and definetly feels well put together (must have been a good job then!!!) An oil leak developed from the corner of the aluminium cam-cover. This turned out to be another well known problem... The cover is apparently not very strong and if you overtighten in it will crack very easily. What I've done is I replaced it with a plastic 156 cover instead. The only modifications you need to carry out are buying new oil venting recirculation pipes (these come out at different angles from the new cover. These are found on the right-hand corner of the cover and go the the plastic ribbed induction sleeve connecting to the throttle body and the otherone goes after that if I remember correctly. If you are bothered by the non appealing look of this new modification you can buy the silver plastic beauty cover that sits on top of this (just like the 156) but it will require cutting away a small section of it on the top right-hand corner to allow the top oil vent pipe to come out where it should.

This is where the electrical grief began.
Please bear in mind that I cannot do anything that is electrical since it is all a mistery to me so please help if you can!!!

Item 1. The oil temperature sensor on the dash never registers above 60 although this should tipically always be 10degrees higher than the water temperature. My water gauge during winter usually sits at 70 but during the summer it is always between 80 and 90.
Has anyone got an idea of what it could be? Is it a bad sender that needs replacing?
I had a look at the connections but they all appear to be fine.

Item 2. My H1 12V headlamps (both dipped-beams and fog-lamps) seem to be burning out at 6 to 12 months intervals. I tried RING Ice Blue replacements but these have not cured the problem.
Any ideas?

Item 3. The fuel injection system warning light has started lighting up every three to four days. When I went for a trip on the motorway it just stayed on all the time.
The revs dip just below 800rpm and then once the light goes out rise to the more usual 1000rpm. It seems to be going in limp-home mode. I was told that this could be due to the timing sensor on the exhaust camshaft pulley (apparently another known weakness).
Has anybody had the same fault?
Have you fixed it? How did you do it?

Item 4. My engine oil low level light came on and went off after 10sec so I immediatly topped the oil up to the max. This light still came on twice and now the one on the check panel above the radio is also permanently on.
Any ideas guys&girls?

Item 5. My power steering pump every now and then makes a terrible whining noise and keeps on doing it until it stops all of a sudden. It seems to be working ok but it just sounds like I've got a hamster running inside a wheel under my bonnet!

Item 6. When I first start the engine from cold, the starter motor engages and the engine turns-over but when I release the ignition hey it doesn't seem to disengage properly and it makes a horrible noise for a second or two and after that it's fine.
Has anyone had the same problem?

Item 7. I seem to have blown the baffles in the exhaust centre silencer box. Is this common? How expensive are they to replace? I think I would prefer to completely remove this and put a straight through pipe section instead. Has anyone done this already? Is the vehicle very noisy after such a modification?

I am sorry it took so long but I hope this background info will help out other people along with giving you enough info to help me diagnose my problems.

Many thanks guys,

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Hello TAZ..!
First i'm sorry that you had so much problems in your car..!

I have 155 2.0 t.s 8V -92 and i had problems with my oil level warning light,but i cleaned up the light sensor on the engine.
After that it has worked properly,what becomes to that oil,water and other temperatures i have same numbers than you and we have quite chilly here in Finland.
I think that the oil temp sensor is in the cooler(haven,t checked) and it is in front of a right front tire,cool place to be...!
You should change powersteering oil and you should never turn steering wheel to the end strongly..!
If you blown you CAT then it's not cheap.!

Hope this helps a little bit..!

Regards, Mikko
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Hi Taz.
That's a long essay you've done for us all.
The temp registrations are the same as on my 2.0 16v. Only in slow traffic, in mountain passes or at prolonged high speed driving I get 70-90 degrees oil temp.
Some of the other problems (light bulbs etc) have been dealt with in the Forum so do a search.
Good luck trouble shooting
Ronald ARTC20
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Hi Taz,

The oiltemp of my 2.0 16V stays also very low (about 60 degrees Celsius) while driving the car in normal conditions. Even when the car is driving for long distances (150 km) at constant velocity, about 120 km/h.

Only when the weather is very hot or standing still in a traffic-jam, the oil reaches 70-80 degrees Celsius.


Ronald ARTC20
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Cheers for the info guys
I actually cannot believe that in my incredibly long essay I forgot to put down what model I had!!!
I'll set the record straight... she's a 1996 2.0L 16V T.Spark and she is unique since I grafted in Aston Martin Vanquish bonnet, wing and bumper vents (I also made a sticky numberplate I relocated this to the side of the bumper).
She is lowered 40mm by Eibach springs; she also has Eibach anti-roll bars and strut-brace.
She sits on ATP Helicopter flat 5-spoke 7X17" wheels with Prelli P7000 rubber (215X40).
Soon to arrive (hopefully before the Summer) are new camshafts, a unique induction system that will benefit from the vent in the wing, a specially made stainless steel exhaust system with a free-flow cat and remapped ECU; this should see around 200bhp.

And.. she's not red!!! she's metallic blue!!! I know.. i know.. but she looks quite unique and it is a colour that is definetly rare at Alfa Days.


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We need to see pictures of this car.
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: South East London
Posts: 98
Hi there

This one goes mainly to Mikko:
Problems with oil level warning lights.
Cleaning the light sensor on the engine ???

Hrmm.. and just what is that. And how does it work ?


Stefan is offline  
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Hi Taz

I might be able to help with a couple of items, usually the simplest ideas can work.

Item 3: Could that be the Lambda Sensor, did the same with mine, first time it was checked, it registered OK, second time FAILURE, got it swapped and hey presto, OK again.

Item 5. Have the same problem now and again since I pulled the hoses out on a bumpy road.
Could be air in the system, I think the best way is to run the engine with cap off the power steering resevoir and turm the wheel a few times, if you see lots of bubbles, you might have a tiny leak or need to bleed it.
Its worth checking the pipes are secured properly near the gearbox as these can rub against it and over a period of time (3 months) develop a leak

Item 6: Don't know much about the starter on the 155, but if the motor continues to engage the flywheel, its possible a sticky solenoid, usually a new starter motor required or a good auto spark can sort it.

Hope this helps not hinders

Remember it is unwise to upset a wookie!

2.0 TS 1995 16v
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Hammer,I mean't the connection between wires and oil lever sensor it might get loosen and put there some wd-40...!

Regards, Mikko
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Cheers for the info; I'll definetly have a go at looking into those items the minute I manage to find a free ramp at work so that I can get under the car for a proper tinkering!

I've got a picture of the car at the AROC's June '01 Alfa Day (GB); trouble is it's a Bitmap file so it is quite large. I'll try to get a jpeg sometime soon and then post it on the site for viewing.
I think that in the future I will be looking at radically changing its appearance to resemble the 155 GTA that ran in Germany in 1992 (2.0L Turbo 4X4 version) prior to the DTM (2.5V6 spec) in 1993. I've got a friend in Italy who managed to get hold of the last set of bodypanels and fixtures from Nordauto (the racing outfit that used to prepare them) so... the minute I get some cash to spare (mind you I'll need plenty to do this job!!!) I'll get going.

Will keep you posted, mind you; it might be a long wait!

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From: 1995 T Spark 2.0; Super Model; Burgundy Red; 108'000 miles
Subject: A few snippets of info but mostly commiseration.

Let me help you feel not so bad - I have a longer string of problems.

> At 44k mls I burnt-out a valve on cylinder no.3 whilst doing 130mph..
Gee, that's top rated speed isn't it? I'm glad to hear it can achieve this, I have only taken mine up to 97mph.

> she's a 1996 2.0L 16V T.Spark and she is unique since I grafted
Mine is also unique since my wife reversed her into a pole, reshaped her front drivers side profile and sheared off the drivers side mirror. I balked at around 300 quid for a new mirror, so have glued this back on. This succeeded on the second attempt, a combination of liberal quantities of (elastic) contact adhesive on the lower edges and Bostik mounting glue on the top edge. So far so good.

> 1. The oil temperature sensor on the dash never registers above 60 although this should
My oil temp gauge mostly reads bottom line, it is not faulty as sometimes it is up one or two notches. The oil press gauge always reads exactly 4 bar - this sounds like a strange failure mode.

> 2. My H1 12V headlamps (both dipped-beams and fog-lamps) seem to be burning out at 6 to 12
I was losing brake lights every 2 months. Tried decreasing rear tyre pressure from recommended 2.4Bar to 2.2Bar and so far have been OK. Front pressure is still at the high 2.75Bar. Do you inflate to these pressures too?
I have seen other 155's with blown brake lights in my neck of the woods - suspect the same cause.

> 3. The fuel injection system warning light has started lighting up every three to four
Do you have a factory fitted security code system? Doesn't this link with the fuel injection system. My orange security code warning indicator is often lit - never caused a cut out though.

> 5. My power steering pump every now and then makes a terrible whining noise and keeps on
Four days ago had a total loss of power steering fluid. Topped up reservoir, motor sounded like a hair dryer with a hairpin in it. Was just a hole in one of the hoses but sounded far worse. Am still suspicious that the gearbox removal a few days before caused this.
Yes, the old gearbox, in two months it's been out twice, gears 1,2,4 replaced and one of the forks. Workshop insinuated that I don't drive like a gentleman, even suggested that resting your hand on the gearstick while driving causes this damage (I don't, the handbrake is far more satisfying!)

> 6. When I first start the engine from cold, the starter motor engages and the engine turns
Spared this one, though the car will not idle for the first 30 seconds after starting, even when the engine is warm?

> 7. I seem to have blown the baffles in the exhaust centre silencer box. Is this common? How
Have had the exhaust fall off twice in six months. When this happened to my wife, she drove the car sounding like a tractor making metal score marks down the road. I had the sense to purloin some fencing wire when it happened to me and wire the thing up on the side of the motorway.

SEE: Topic: Jammed door release catch
Never found out how the door was opened by the Alfa mechanic to replace the failed catch, but there is a slight hint of a buckle in the door panel under the keyhole.

Other problems:
Rain leaking into front passenger footwell.
Intermittent electric window switch failure (up and down directions only open window).

NikNik 5-Dec-2001
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Nik Nik,
I'm sorry to hear about your misfortunes..
You'll never guess what happened to me 3 days ago.. a girl who knows me came knocking on my door to tell me that she saw a taxi reverse in the carpark and hit my car [img]mad.gif[/img] Needless to say that the special wing I made with the Aston Martin bits has been reprofiled to say the least and the bumper isn't also looking too hot.
Worst of all, the taxi driver didn't stop and my friend wasn't quick enough to get his numberplate.
There aren't many taxis in my town that fit the description but - it is needless to say - the police hasn't offered to do anything about it. I guess it is because they cannot see how they can make any profit out of my misfortune so they prefer going out to give speeding tickets to half the nation instead. [img]mad.gif[/img]

I'll have a look at your problems more closely and let you know over the Christmas holidays since I'm a bit swept off my feet at present.


PS I just noticed that my RH-RR door is beginning to rust along the bottom edge [img]frown.gif[/img]

PPS I think I'm just about ready to give up my jinxed Alfa and get myself a nice, RELIABLE Mitsubishi EVO VI.

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electrical , madsensors , motors , problems , pumps

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