One of the most asked questions, so written this, (I'll will edit as needed, please comment on this for any major corrections or additions).
Need some Brera info if anyone can help, though much of the information below is relevant to both models
Anyone looking to buy a 159 or Brera will first want to consider the different models available, with two basic 159 versions available the saloon and estate, along with the Brera
In 2008, the car was updated, essentially a 45kg weight loss, and a few small changes of trim (the Ti lost auto wipers, blue & me became standard), but apparently all were then fitted with the Q2 differential too. Easiest way to tell is after 2008, the boot badge became the boot release button (previously it was on the headlining!)
Then there are a range of Trim Levels, these have changed over the years, but are essentially:
: Basic model, flocked Cloth, 16” 415 alloys, painted dash trim ,
Rare, Basic model, Sports Cloth seats, 17" 4WQ alloy wheels, Brushed Aluminium Trim, Ti type Sports leather steering wheel
: Pretty rare, but had 55E 17"alloys, stainless steel kick plates, Alfa Tex seats, parking sensor, blue&me
: Leather seats, 17” alloys, auto wipers/ rear view mirror/ lights), reverse sensors, metal dash trim, stainless steel kick plates
Red Brembo brake calipers, 19” wheels, Lowered suspension, Side Skirts, Heated Sports seats (electric till mid 08 with memory on seat and mirros, half leather, half alcantara on later ’10 on models), 60:40 Folding seats (saloon), Sports Steering wheel, Red stitched gear knob, Black Headlining, Auto lights/ wipers/ demist (till mid 08), Blue and Me (didnt became standard on Lusso till mid 08), Darkened dash materials, different dial colours, Aluminium pedals, Satin wing mirrors, Ti Sill plates in front, Badges under side repeaters.
Limited Edition (LE/SE):
There were a couple of limited editions/ Special editions, including:
James Bond Limited Edition
: 250 made, black Lusso (1.9 JTDM only) with Anthracite 10 spoke Ti wheels, brembo calipers, lowered suspension and Ti steering wheel/ dials, leather seats and a few other goodies, but no sports seats or side skirts. Some are labelled at Ti, so watch out (key points to look for are the Ti sports seats have the Alfa logo stitched in red, and the Ti side skirts)
For other parts of Europe they have the following, roughly equivalent levels to the above ( in order), but will depend on your market.
Brera (called 'SV' pre 08)
Standard trim (in the UK): aluminium interior trim, sky view roof (hence SV), rear parking sensors, folding mirrors, cruise control, dual zone climate control, and 17" alloys, leather extra
Cars post 08 had 4 pot brembos and slightly different seats, darker dashboard trim, often no sky view/or had a blind over.
Brera S (Prodrive)
Developed with prodrive for better looks and handling: Leather with red stitching, S limited edition badging (on rear quarters, head rest, etc),Leather dash with red stitching (option on the 2.2 standard on the 3.2), Prodrive mudflaps, Prodrive suspension, 19" 8C style alloys, S Style Tailpipes (D shaped) with additional expansion chamber on 2.2 for added noise appeal.
Brera Italia Independent
Standard trim, plus opaque-finish "titanium" paintwork, 18" "turbine" style alloy wheels and an aluminium fuel-filler cap
Cloth (leather on 2.4 jtdm and 32 jts)), folding mirrors, 17" alloys, Twin chrome exhaust, dual zone auto climate control, cruise control, split fold rear seats, rear parking sensors,
Italia Independent limited edition
matt finish paint, 18" Turbine alloys Leather seat trim, Lumbar support, Sat Nav
Confusingly named limited edition, one of three colours (Carbonio Black, Alfa Red, Ghiaccio White) plus 19 inch Ti type alloy wheels, leather upholstery, electrically adjustable and heated memory front seats and door mirrors
A range of engines was available, 2.2JTS, 1.9JTS and 1.8MPI (all removed 2010, the 2.2 was the most common, others a bit gutless), 3.2 v6 JTS Q4 the top of the range 4wd option, kept through the life, and 1.750 TBI (introduced in 2010 with good reviews). All the engines are pretty reliable, with all but the 1750TBi engine being GM based units.
- The 2.2 can suffer from low speed hesitation (around 1,100 rpm), a remap can help
- The timing chain can stretch, the engine management light should come on, should not cause damage, but can cost a bit (£300+)
1.9 (8v and more common 150bhp 16v version), and 2.4 (pre 2008 200bhp, post 210bhp (different turbo)). Later a 2.0 became available, which had less issues with DPF or EGR. If you are looking to re-map, the 2.4 and 2.0 are better options (stronger gearbox).
What to look out for:
- Stone chipping to bonnet (soft paint),
- Suspension bushes (any knocking over bumps),
- Rear springs are known to snap (about 4cm from the bottom), this seems to be more common on the 159 Ti. This should have been sorted as easy to spot, Eibach pro kit are a very common replacement, same height as Ti, better quality, and great price.
- Heavy front inside tyre wear (simple 4 wheel alignment to resolve, can be related to the bushes too).
- Noises on full lock (earlier cars had the wrong power steering fluid (should be green, not red...check before buying)).
- Wiper linkage can go (the drivers wiper will foul the bonnet when sweeping, & leaves a triangular mark on the screen, and takes paint off the lip of the bonnet where it contacts).
- Front Subframe Rust is an emerging issue, some have known to have corroded, if you get the chance to get the car up on a lift, take a look, particularly at the front, which is disappointing. You're likely to see some surface rust spots but some have started to rust through, so have a look into the engine bay and around the suspension arm (lower) mountings in the wheel well
- The rear door locks can fail, check all the doors open.
Now I've bought it, what now!?
- The cambelt AND waterpump should be changed every 50-60k or 4 years (the manual says longer). Factor this in if its not been done (~£450).
- Small puff of smoke on start (cold, damp days) is acceptable, but much more than that could be an issue.
- 1.9 Gearbox, any movement of the gear stick in gear (esp 5/6th), or whine in 6th gear should be avoided (bearings can go)
- The 2.4 has plastic coolant valves, these can fail, loosing coolant, so recommended you replace with metal ones (pretty cheap job, £1-2)
- Low power, especially below 2,000rpm, could be something as simple as the EGR valve (can be had for as little as £80 new, and diy job), or more serious, get the garage to sort it.
So you've bought the car, other than starting to enjoy it, what should/ can you do that might improve your owning experience. (Other than the usual checking fluids, cam-belt change etc):
- Have four wheel alignment, can help with the handling and reduce the front inner tyre wear. Alfa changed the official settings to reduce this (if it's never been done it'll probably be off now.
- If you have a 1.9 or 2.4 JTDM, blank (or partially restrict) the EGR. 90% of engine problems are related to the EGR! This will also improve performance (including mpg), but mainly it will reduce engine issues with time (swirl flaps, gunked up manifold), clean the map sensor a the same time. Blanking the EGR will need an engine map also (Autolusso offer the service incluing blanking plate for £150), a partial blanking plate (help, but not exlcude issues), can be had for £4, and a simple DIY job. DPF can also be removed, but is a contentious issues (search for threads on the matter) due to the MOT.
- 1.9JTDm? Replace the oil in the M32 gearbox, they are prone to failure (as mentioned aboe), oil overheats and thins out, replace with thicker (Redline MT90 or Fuchs Titan Sintofluid 75W-80 are popular options.
- Powerflex bushings, the standard bushings allow some movement, and can contribute to inner edge tyre wear/ vague steering. Marginally more expensive than OEM bushing ( you re-use the wishbone, rather than replace the whole thing). Will also reduce suspension smoothness slightly (more transmitted to cabin). I did mine when the bushings died naturally (~6 years old)
- Suspension, replace the snapping prone springs with Eibach pro kit, they are -30/35mm (~same as Ti,). Better quality (avoid snapped springs), improved ride. Also consider the dampers, will be getting old now, Bilstein B4 is considered OEM spec (ie not an upgrade for insurance purposes). Eibachs are ~£130 for full set, Bilsteins B4 ~£60 per corner.
- Sat-Nav, very much optional! The standard CD player and OEM sat nav are a different size (crazy I know), so you cannot retrofit an OEM one, you will need a different adaptor if replacing the OEM SatNav (which is not great anyway)
- Replace speakers, again optional, standard 6.5" components will fit with spacers (same as for the 147).
- Replace dipped beams with HIDs (35/55w) for brighter lights.