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(Post Link) post #1 of 18 Old 23-05-08 Thread Starter
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Help Have I been conned?

Hello everyone

I've just bought an Alfa Spider 3 weeks ago. 1999, 47.000 miles on the clock, pretty good service history, quite good looking for it's age. Overall a very lovely car, I loved it. Weather was nice, so most of the times I was cruising, doing not more than 70-80mph. The idea is that I have not pushed the car. Last Friday my engine broke down and after a week of investigations I was told that the big end is gone. Pretty much my options are limited now and I'm looking at a bill of at least £1.200 to get it back on the road. And I really want to get fixed because it puts such a big smile on my face driving it.

The last service was carried out just a week before I bought it and it was carried out by an Alfa specialist. All the engine belts have been replaced as well as all the usual bits that come with a service (oil, filters, etc).

Now so many questions run through my head:
- can you tell in advance that the big end will fail?
- are there any signs that an Alfa specialist would see?
- could the garage have advised the seller to get rid of the car?

I have only covered about 800 miles and I told you it was very decent driving.

I really need your opinions guys, Thanks in advance!
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Re: Have I been conned?

You may normally get a knocking sound before the big end fails..

If the car has suffered a cambelt failure it can be possible due to the big ends not being checked properly.
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Re: Have I been conned?

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Originally Posted by OperationAlfa View Post
You may normally get a knocking sound before the big end fails..

If the car has suffered a cambelt failure it can be possible due to the big ends not being checked properly.
I would call the garage that did this last service.. see if they have anything on file.. do you not have service history? Joe
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Re: Have I been conned?

theres a good chance some nasty bits came out in that oil too

As OA says, you normally get some form of warning before it fails...

My conclusion, someone knows
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Re: Have I been conned?

Big ends failed in my previous 166 2.0TS. Diagnosed as caused by oil starvation although the car was always topped up under my ownership. It had three years of previous ownership under a company car scheme run by our old friends Arnold Clark though.
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(Post Link) post #6 of 18 Old 23-05-08 Thread Starter
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Re: Have I been conned?

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Originally Posted by OperationAlfa View Post
I would call the garage that did this last service.. see if they have anything on file.. do you not have service history? Joe
I have history of two most recent services carried out. Nothing regarding any engine failures or something like this... only regular worn out parts.
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Re: Have I been conned?

That must have been run low on oil for the big ends to fail so early. A replacement engine could be a cheaper option?
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(Post Link) post #8 of 18 Old 23-05-08 Thread Starter
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Re: Have I been conned?

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Originally Posted by Jim145 View Post
That must have been run low on oil for the big ends to fail so early. A replacement engine could be a cheaper option?
The oil level is good, the oils is very clear.
I want to keep the car, so I think a good recon engine is my best choice, isn't?
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Re: Have I been conned?

The big end bearings went on my 156 1.8TS at 12k miles. It was full of oil at the time. Dealer put it down to either oil starvation caused by blocked "artery" or manufacturing defect. There was no warning before it went. (afterwards ran ok but under any load there was a knocking noise)
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(Post Link) post #10 of 18 Old 23-05-08 Thread Starter
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Re: Have I been conned?

so this can happen suddenly, without any signs? should I believe that the car has been sold to me in good faith?
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Re: Have I been conned?

for me, it happened suddenly... When it went I'd had the car nearly 3 months, and during my ownership oil had always been kept at the maximum mark.

There was no warning. One day (sunny Friday on the way home from work), I was driving spiritedly as you do sometimes. Took it down to 2nd into a corner and was probably just slightly less gentle with letting out the clutch than I normally am. This was enough to finish off the (previously worn from oil starvation) big end, coming out of the corner the loud knocking was very obvious...
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Re: Have I been conned?

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so I think a good recon engine is my best choice, isn't?
Yes, it will be cheaper. Depending on where you are in the country there are a few places that we can recommend.

With regards to recons,

I would inquire at autolusso as they can come and collect the car on a trailer.
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(Post Link) post #13 of 18 Old 23-05-08 Thread Starter
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Re: Have I been conned?

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Originally Posted by OperationAlfa View Post
Yes, it will be cheaper. Depending on where you are in the country there are a few places that we can recommend.

With regards to recons,

I would inquire at autolusso as they can come and collect the car on a trailer.
I live in Alton, Hampshire. Any suggestions? Thanks!
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Re: Have I been conned?

From a thread from A.N.other alfa forum I use...

"bare bones of the story are following numerous aftermarket warranty claims for big end failures on cylinders 2 and 3 in the 16v engines they spoke at length to Alfa who have apparently admitted a design fault!

The theory is that the location of the exhaust is so close to the sump which in turn is close to the crank. If the engine is stopped when the exhaust is properly hot and either 2 or 3 is at the bottom the hot spot created causes the oil to drain from the big end meaning it's partially dry when re-starting. This is a problem which is made worse by the con rod float being on the big end instead of the small end as in most other engine designs and further exacerbated by poor oil quality/low oil level/weak oil pump as start-up pressure is reduced.

this also explains why 1.6/1.8 failures are less common as the shorter throw of the crank will mean the big end is slightly further away from the inside of the sump pan"

Hope this helps, I reccomend wraping the downpipe with racing exhaust wrap and using a 10/60 oil (alfa now put that in ALL t/s engines in their workshops, to try and counter this)
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Re: Have I been conned?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AforAlfa View Post
From a thread from A.N.other alfa forum I use...

"bare bones of the story are following numerous aftermarket warranty claims for big end failures on cylinders 2 and 3 in the 16v engines they spoke at length to Alfa who have apparently admitted a design fault!

The theory is that the location of the exhaust is so close to the sump which in turn is close to the crank. If the engine is stopped when the exhaust is properly hot and either 2 or 3 is at the bottom the hot spot created causes the oil to drain from the big end meaning it's partially dry when re-starting. This is a problem which is made worse by the con rod float being on the big end instead of the small end as in most other engine designs and further exacerbated by poor oil quality/low oil level/weak oil pump as start-up pressure is reduced.

this also explains why 1.6/1.8 failures are less common as the shorter throw of the crank will mean the big end is slightly further away from the inside of the sump pan"

Hope this helps, I reccomend wraping the downpipe with racing exhaust wrap and using a 10/60 oil (alfa now put that in ALL t/s engines in their workshops, to try and counter this)
So maybe thats the reason the JTS' use the 10/60 oil? I'd imagine it's very similar to the TS?
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Re: Have I been conned?

aha. so heatwrap on the manifold = lower risk of big end failure?
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Re: Have I been conned?

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Originally Posted by Fraser View Post
Big ends failed in my previous 166 2.0TS. Diagnosed as caused by oil starvation although the car was always topped up under my ownership. It had three years of previous ownership under a company car scheme run by our old friends Arnold Clark though.
Not trying to be funny or anything, but surely that would be down to the driver and nothing to do with Arnold Clark? After all they can't send a man round during the night to check every cars oil level
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Re: Have I been conned?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AforAlfa View Post
From a thread from A.N.other alfa forum I use...

"bare bones of the story are following numerous aftermarket warranty claims for big end failures on cylinders 2 and 3 in the 16v engines they spoke at length to Alfa who have apparently admitted a design fault!

The theory is that the location of the exhaust is so close to the sump which in turn is close to the crank. If the engine is stopped when the exhaust is properly hot and either 2 or 3 is at the bottom the hot spot created causes the oil to drain from the big end meaning it's partially dry when re-starting. This is a problem which is made worse by the con rod float being on the big end instead of the small end as in most other engine designs and further exacerbated by poor oil quality/low oil level/weak oil pump as start-up pressure is reduced.

this also explains why 1.6/1.8 failures are less common as the shorter throw of the crank will mean the big end is slightly further away from the inside of the sump pan"

Hope this helps, I reccomend wraping the downpipe with racing exhaust wrap and using a 10/60 oil (alfa now put that in ALL t/s engines in their workshops, to try and counter this)
An interesting theory and one more advocate for Magnetec.
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