Well there's no putting any sort of gloss on this: the 159 came home on the back of a truck this evening.
We were on the way back from Sydney to Canberra - lovely night at the opera last night, beautiful day, came home the scenic way via a very pretty area in Southern New South Wales called Kangaroo Valley. Australian AO members might know that this involves an enjoyable blast up the mountain to Fitzroy Falls.
Got to the top, pootling along the back roads before joining the Hume Highway, when BEEP - engine overheating warning, please pull over and stop engine. I looked at the temperature gauge and sure enough it was sticking up at 12 o'clock or 130 degrees in other words.
As I rolled to a stop the gauge flicked back down to the normal 90 degrees again. I stopped the engine and left it off for a while. Restarted - normal temperature again. Drove gently to the next petrol station on the Highway (temperature gauge normal) and had a look under the bonnet. Sure enough, the coolant reservoir was empty and there was a fair amount of goop all over the engine bay. Damn.
Here in Oz Alfas come with a three year warranty which includes 24/7 "Alfa Assist". So I rang the number on the card and explained the situation, and in about 40 minutes a nice bloke called Daniel in a tow truck appeared.
Daniel poured some water in to the reservoir and it was immediately apparent where the leak was. It bubbled out of a hole at the left hand end of the top of an aluminium distributor pipe that runs along the front of the engine block - see picture:
Daniel said it looked like a welsh plug that had popped out, or possibly a bleed valve. So alas not a question of tightening a jubilee clip and refilling. On to the back of the truck and an ignominious drive home.
Has anyone else had this problem? It would be useful to know.
I'll talk to the dealer tomorrow and find out how good the promise (before purchase) of a loan vehicle in case of trouble turns out to be.
On the 90-minute trip home it wasn't long before Daniel admitted to having been at work since 1am, after only 2 hours' sleep. It was now 5pm. Clearly it would be a good thing if I kept Daniel talking. He told me about a few of the expensive cars he had towed - a Roller (flat tyre and no spare - you must be kidding), and a Maserati (ditto). I asked him which was the most reliable prestige car in his experience - BMW. The least? Mercedes. Umm... what about Alfa Romeo? He was diplomatic - not all that common in Australia, difficult to judge.