Clattery when cold
Join Date: Feb 2012
Location: United Kingdom
County: Greater London
Even in hot climates antifreeze is essential for it's anti-corrosion properties. Paraflu, Alfa's recommended antifreeze, is bright pink, and should be visible in the plastic header tank where you top up levels. Other coolant mixtures are typically pink, blue or green - antifreeze is poisonous and invariably dyed to distinguish it from gin and tonic. What shouldn't be there is clear liquid which will be plain water.
Depending on how bad the plugs are leaking it may be worth trying a cooling system 'stop leak' additive. I'd ask locally to see what is recommended.
I just looked at my car. The 1.9 has one core plug pretty much central and fairly high up, on the bulkhead side of the block. Once the inlet manifold is off, access is good enough to drill it, insert a screw, jemmy it out and replace it. Where a second one might be is a mystery, although the 2.4 may be different and have two plugs where the 1.9 only has one. Assuming both have two, it could be underneath the support bracket for the high pressure fuel pump (the pump has to come out to remove the inlet manifold - but there is no need to disturb the timing belt unless the support bracket is removed as the pulley for the pump can be bolted to the bracket to hold its position). Or it could be at the front, beneath the exhaust manifold and turbo.
Lots of dismantling, to get to it/them. I don't think the dealer is exaggerating. Engine out may actually be a good efficient option if a belt change and/or clutch are imminent-ish. But I think I'd explore the sealant additive option first, at about 0.5% of the cost.