159 TBi Cambelt broken!! - Alfa Romeo Forum
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Exclamation 159 TBi Cambelt broken!!


Would love a bit of help/advise from fellow Alfa owners!!!

Driving back from work today I lost all power in the car. Managed to pull it over and when the RAC came out the diagnosis is broken timing belt - The mechanic took off the oil cap and when I turned it over the camshaft didn't move at all! (I turned the engine over about 3 times before I phoned the RAC)

I am devastated!! I got the car from an Alfa dealership 15 months/25,000 miles ago (approx). The Cambelt and Water Pump where changed by the Alfa dealership before they handed it over to me (got the invoice to proof it), so it is well within the service life of the cambelt - even with Alfa Romeo reducing the gap between belt changes down to 36K miles. I bought it with around 37k miles on the clock and the cambelt went today on 62,642 miles!

Have been looking online for any hint on whether the engine is interference or non-interference but haven't been able to find any info. Does anyone know? Is the damage to my credit card going to be disastrous? I think I know what both of those answers are going to be! Is this recoverable by the dealership in any way? I feel I should speak to the dealership and see what they say... Gates state that they will cover damages caused by belt failure as long as it is installed correctly so surely that would mean the dealership don't loose out (and neither do I - provided the dealership used a Gates belt).

The car has been maintained with services as and when required, though not by the dealership I brought it from, but I can't see any reason why the belt would have gone? It showed no signs it was going. The only reason may be because the dealership did not change it. I have the pre-sales invoice from the dealership that says that as well as spark plugs and various filter changes etc etc, they did the cambelt & the waterpump at the same time.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks in advance

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Hopefully when the dealer replaced the cambelt and waterpump, they also replaced the cambelt tensioner and idler pulley?
sprint_veloce is offline  
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Currently unknown - Yes you would certainly of thought so! If they changed the water pump then you would of thought that they appreciated the need to change all parts around the belt. Plus it's always so little extra to buy the kit and they were warranting the car so you would of thought they would take a preventative measure for there own sake!

I sent them an email early this morning so I should know their position fairly soon..
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Really bad luck and news with this, I would be extremely surprised if it hasn't caused serious damage as I don't think the TBi has sacrificial parts like the 1.9 diesel. The genuine Alfa 1750 cambelt kit comes with tensioner and idler so these would/should have been changed I guess by the garage, as a precaution I had my waterpump and aux belt changed at the same time (hangover from Fiat Coupe days) as well.

I don't know what the warranty period is with these parts so you are unfortunately in the hands of either the supplying dealer or AR "Customer Service" and some goodwill, I 'd be pretty damn annoyed though. As to why it went you'll probably need an opinion from the dealer unfortunately, if you get messed about it may be worth going straight to one of specialists to give it a proper (unbiased) once over.

Hope you get a decent outcome
wal5 is offline  
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More problems....

Sorry for the delayed response - been a busy couple of weeks!!

So I got in touch with the garage I bought it from and, to their credit, they were very helpful and arranged for someone to pick up the car and take it to them so they could diagnose why it failed.

Next day got a call to say the car was ready for collection!

Amazingly there was no damage to anything inside the engine. No bent valves or pistons or rocker arms! Apparently the garage have had a handful of these engines that have had the Cambelt go (not really sure what to make of this comment!), and generally they don't seem to cause any damage internally! Seems the TBi is perhaps a non-interference engine?

The reason the Cambelt went was due to the tensioner! It had apparently failed and made the belt slip off the teeth. I asked to see the part which was clearly broken. I don't really know how the tensioner fully works mechanically but the moving part that interacts with the belt had managed to come out of its internal housing so was no longer being held in position. (sorry for the poor diagnosis). Ultimately the tensioner gave way. The dealership assured me that they changed the tensioner when they changed the cambelt and waterpump in the presales service and that Alfa Romeo parts have a 12 month warranty so the dealership didn't feel that this was their responsibility and there was no go back through to Alfa Romeo. As a 'good-will' gesture the garage didn't charge for the new tensioner and halved the labour time, but this still came to 500 for the new cambelt kit and they changed the waterpump again while they were in there. I reluctantly paid under protest, so some good fun and games to be had trying to claim back this cost... There is no way the tensioner should of failed after 25K miles so I shouldn't have to foot the bill!

Anyway, having got the car back, it doesn't seem to be running as smoothly as it did before. e.g. it idles on 1000 revs instead of 750 and is working to stay on. In fact when I started it on Tuesday, after already driving for half an hour with no problems, the engine had a heavy shudder and it was really struggling. The engine warning light came on and told me to get the engine checked. I drove quite literally up the road needing to give it some gas for it to not struggle and turned it off. Turned it back on 5 minutes later and it was back to how it was before, (not before the Cambelt slipped), but no engine warning light. Drove another 150-250 miles with the engine idling high but no real problems, though I came to start it Friday morning and... nothing. The starter motor won't turn over - took a video the second time I tried.

The electrics carry on crunching/processing after I take the key out for about 2 minutes which doesn't sound very good at all, so I don't know if its the electrics or the starter motor.

Has anyone else had any similar issues with the electrics. I dont think this is related to the cambelt problems I had but could it be? The car has been faultless until the cambelt came off. Now I've got problems with the engine struggling and now it won't turn on

Any guidance would be greatly appreciated!!!

Thanks in advance!
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The electrics you are hearing - it's not just the climate control flaps doing their thing as they reset? That is normal.

As for the bad running, I'd be wanting to know that a valve isn't bent. Regardless of the garage disputing the first claim, surely they have to accept this is the result of the work you have just paid for and should put it right? I'd do nothing but ask them to recover it back for checks. At least you will have given them a chance. If they won't, then get it taken to a specialist, get the work put right and a report and start the pain of recovering your money.

Actually, I'm pretty sure they are responsible for the first repair not Alfa*; you claim against them and they claim against Alfa?

Wishing you a good outcome.

Edit, just seen that the part was out of warranty. Don't think there will be much you can insist on with the first repair.
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That looks like a flat battery to me. check if the cables are on thebattery terminals tight. If so, charge the battery.

I don't have sound here though, so it's only my visual impression.
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Originally Posted by Cuore_Sportivo_155 View Post
check if the cables are on the battery terminals tight.
My old GTV was just the same. Cables need to be very tight.
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