The mighty solo 24V head gasket change - outside ! - Alfa Romeo Forum
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Status: Finished the 166 overhaul (whimper!)
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The mighty solo 24V head gasket change - outside !

Hello All,

I am in the process of changing the head gaskets on my beloved (we can't use dirty words on this forum) Alfa Romeo 166 3.0 V6 24V Lusso.....its blue metallic, the snappiest colour after red on these behemoths, and aside from the engine's peccadilloes, a sweet ride....and speaking of peccadilloes.....

EVERYTHING that could go wrong, did....I suspect it was because its last three owners (including the first) loved it without wisdom and a willingness to spend money on maintenance - always the way in Noo Zeeland.

So - the story so far:
1) Head gasket went a radiator burst. Fixed. $4000 (ARRRGH) but I figured worth it. Got the upgraded CV boot too - so no worries on WOF (Roadworthy) for the next few years.

2) Heater core burst, and drenched stuff, and halted the ventilation fan. Fixed for $500. Cheap. Aircon in action - hey wow ! Dealt with the duff thermostat at the same time - gotta do these things as quick as possible.

3) Drenched electronics included the BRAIN of the Tippie......and this meant that this KILLED the gearbox - fried two clutches and their attendant electrohydraulics. Result - one NEW gearbox. $3500 - OK, so looks like I am driving this car into the ground (no bad thing that, its only got 145,000 km on the clock - barely worn in, right ?)

4) And then......

The car began to overheat and drink water at an alarming rate...and then boil it....and then burst the header tank (got a new one of those, $234, cheap - engine bay sure looks nice, which I like a lot. so all well, maybe we can sort it out at the garage that did the job ?

Much sleuthing, and with this I learn that :
* The slow fan speed relay was fried....
* The head gasket for Piston 4 (Front-facing bank, centre) was BUBBLING at 1.5 Atm water pressure
* And that was all that was wrong !


This means a NEW head gasket.

And then the garage in question shut up shop from circumstances beyond their control (they admitted culpability, bless them, but left the poor 166 in the lurch). Pressies on dissolution - as many seals and gaskets as possible, a loan (for which read find the guy who owns them when you are done) set of 24V Cam locks - brilliant, as I have 3D scanned and CADded them up in Solidworks for a EOS LaserSint in Steel - any interested parties for 3D printed items in Steel?

Therefore, on rolling up my sleeves - I did my self, successfully without breaking anything ! And outside too - I am nearly finished - there is nice weather in Auckland, and I should have the head back from the head shop next week, and the engine re-assembled in a week after that

How is this possible, I hear you ask ? Well the internet is a wonderful place - this site is purest gold, of course.
And there are other goodies - please burn a trail to :

The Overhaul manual for the 24V is a critical document. download yours today if you have a 24V V6 (156, 166, GTV, 147GTA), as it is a most useful resource.

Oh, and the dog-bone mount has had it too, but I am darned if I am going to shell over $200 for a new one, and so I found a $50 solution for renewing the condition of all your engine mounts on the very cheap and excellent :
Home Made Poly Urethane Engine Mounts |

Lets face it, this is quite excellent, and the 3M glue in question can be found world wide for roughly NZ$25-30. I understand that hot-rodders will actually have their engine mounts for crate motors etc modified immediately with this glue to give better strength and mounting support for its a worthy and inexpensive upgrade. Best part is that the gear is dirt cheap (you may have some already if you do household work and airbrush plastic model kits as I do), and what surprises and delights me is the concept of an inexpensive repair having the durability of withstanding abuse for over 10 years in an engine bay.

So what can you learn from my travail ? Well, I am going to make a series of recommendation to 24V and 12V V6 owners, which, for minimum outlay can spare you from torment:

The cooling system needs your attention NOW. Begin with :
1) replacing your high and low speed fan relays. Do it today, its cheap and can save you a fortune.

2) Fit a pair of missile switch overrides on the terminals, and run the lines through to your dash and fit a pair of natty missile-covered switches. They look cool , and makes your passengers think you are James Bond - which you are - he had an Alfa too once. Great for conversations: "What are those for?" "Well, the yellow one keeps the engine cool before it bursts" "And the red one?" "Prevents the engine from exploding" "Really???" "Nahh, the first is for the machine gun, and the other one is for the rocket launchers......"

3) Your car's thermostat has already had it - its the Schroedinger's Cat of the V6, with the twist that even before you read this, its already dead in its housing. Replace it because you don't have to. If you can remember replacing it a year ago, its dead. If you can remember it being dead six months ago, its dead now. If you don't know where it is, its dead. If you've done it before, your going to do it again. If you've never done it, you are about to learn how to. Trust me, its frying your engine right now. And that's because its dead as Julius Caesar.

These three things should save you heartache and grief, and save your car for years of travel yet.

Happy Alfa-ing !
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Good read you should become a writer..was engaged with the story..from the colony's..
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Nice write up and good on you for having a go. You seem to have a lot of overheating issues, which isn't that common at all with the V6. You don't mention cam belt but have you done it? And if you did, did you replace the water pump? If the pump has a plastic impellor they have a habit of coming loose on the shaft and working intermittently or not at all. Worth considering?

I say all this because the thermostats are designed to fail open, thus overcooling the engine not overheating. You would be very unlucky to have overheating caused by a thermostat failure. Not impossible, but unlucky.

Also - cylinder 4 is the front bank, closest to the cam belt, not middle. It's 1 2 3 along the back and then 4 5 6 at the front.

I've repaired a broken engine mount with polyurethane as well, it was the front engine mount on a 164 V6. Unfortunately the result was poor as the poly mount was too hard and lead to a nasty kick/shudder through the structure of the car when the engine was started. So I went to the scrappy and liberated a sound used one and all was well again. You might be ok if it's just the dog bone steady bar, but a good second hand original would still be a good option.
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An interesting post Deepshark, needs reposting into the 164/166 lounge for more discussion. With the availability and cost of lower engine mounts for the 164 now please update the forum on how succesful your repair is.

Sprint did you take any pics of your Engine mount repair? Would be interesting to see whether your method of repair is any different to the OP hopefully his repair will be succesful.

Deepshark any chance of a few pics of your "overide toggle switch " conversion, I am liking your thinking and want the option to switch on the cooling fans rather than wait whilst in traffic as temps climb, just hate that feeling of not being able to fully trust the fans cutting in. If you could write up a "How To" even better

Keep the post updated... Good work fella
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