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(Post Link) post #1 of 15 Old 08-08-10 Thread Starter
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Warranty Question

Hey Guys,

Was wondering what you all thought of my situation and maybe had some input.

I have a 2008 147 currently. I bought it ex demo from Airton before they went bust. The issue is the variator seems to be on the way out. The odd time I start it up, I get a dieselesque rattle from the engine for 2 seconds and then sounds normal again.

So I took it to South Dublin Alfa (in Goatstown) to have it checked. They came back and confirmed this was the case and the Variator needed to be replaced. I said fine, but then came the shock. They said it would be the guts of 800 euro because they were not doing the job under warranty as I had come to them outside of the appointed service interval! My last service was with Airton in May 09 and at 19000KM. Going by the sticker Airton put on the car they recommended the next service should be at 29000KM or May 2010 (I visited them in early July). Their point of view was that because the oil change didn't happen at the appointed time frame, this could have caused the issue and thus voided the warranty.

Firstly, I could not believe this was not being done under warranty as all literature suggests that the variator should be changed when the cam belt is changed, that being at about 36000 miles (60000 Km). So to my mind, this part shouldn't fail before then at the minimum. Secondly, 10000Km is a ridiculous service interval for a modern car. My Dad just bought a diesel Renault Fluence and the service interval on that is 2 YEARS and that a bloody diesel!

The funny thing is, while they had the car they fixed an oil leak in the gear box under warranty. That seemed ridiculous considering they would not fix the variator under warranty.

My query is who's right and who's wrong? Should the repair be done under warranty or not?
I haven't gone to other garages to check as I've been away but this just seems crazy to me. Its really annoyed me and I'm really considering leaving the brand I love so much and who I've defended time and again when talking cars with folks.
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10,000km does seem a little short between services - I would have expected 20,000km for Petrol (that's what my old 156 1.8 was).
ARs do tend to need more regular checkups that your renault diesels - even the tractor variants . The joys of high performance driving.

AFAIK Changing oil/etc.. has 0 effect on a variator.

Requiring a new on at less than 30,000km seems more than a little wrong.

Sounds like this bunch are trying to pull a fast one to me. I would have thought it would be done as part of the warranty. Things like this tend to happen outside of your regular checkups - at a min they should agree to do it as part of the next service!

Have your tried a different dealer?
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(Post Link) post #3 of 15 Old 09-08-10 Thread Starter
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10,000km does seem a little short between services - I would have expected 20,000km for Petrol (that's what my old 156 1.8 was).
ARs do tend to need more regular checkups that your renault diesels - even the tractor variants . The joys of high performance driving.

AFAIK Changing oil/etc.. has 0 effect on a variator.

Requiring a new on at less than 30,000km seems more than a little wrong.

Sounds like this bunch are trying to pull a fast one to me. I would have thought it would be done as part of the warranty. Things like this tend to happen outside of your regular checkups - at a min they should agree to do it as part of the next service!

Have your tried a different dealer?
Thanks for your input, Mate.

I do know Alfa's need regular TLC. I've been through a 1.8 Petrol 156 too.

I also agree that they are trying to pull a fast one on me. I just haven't gone elsewhere as I was away for the last while.

Will ring around this week.
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Actually there is a kit repair for the variator. It's only a spring and a plastic washer that wears down inside them, thus making that diesel noise.
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Originally Posted by rikd View Post
AFAIK Changing oil/etc.. has 0 effect on a variator.
Variator is lubricated by engine oil. Not changing the engine oil regularly will quickly kill the variator..

As for 'modern car', the Twin Spark is a 1995 engine..

That being said service intervals should be 12,000 miles..
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Variator is lubricated by engine oil. Not changing the engine oil regularly will quickly kill the variator..

As for 'modern car', the Twin Spark is a 1995 engine..
I'm sure there has been some development of the engine in the preceding 13 years.

I did change the oil myself in Dec. 09 but that seems to hold no sway with them.
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I'm sure there has been some development of the engine in the preceding 13 years.

I did change the oil myself in Dec. 09 but that seems to hold no sway with them.
Very little differences from 1995. Variable inlet manifold was added, pistons have got lighter, changes have been made to fuel injection system, cat converters, etc, but little has been changed inside the engine, cylinder head etc.

They should do the variator under warranty but perhaps you should be paying a little for 'betterment', as it means you won't need to do a cambelt when it is due on the car's 3rd birthday.
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Very little differences from 1995. Variable inlet manifold was added, pistons have got lighter, changes have been made to fuel injection system, cat converters, etc, but little has been changed inside the engine, cylinder head etc.

They should do the variator under warranty but perhaps you should be paying a little for 'betterment', as it means you won't need to do a cambelt when it is due on the car's 3rd birthday.
Perhaps, but it's Alfa's stipulation that you do the cambelt at the same time if you do the Variator. I don't see why I should have to pay for the cambelt if the variator has genuinely gone before it should have. Its not my fault they have to do the belt too.

Either way, I can't help but feel like I'm being screwed by a brand that is dying on its legs and should be doing more than kicking sand in peoples faces to hold onto loyal customers
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According to the Owner's Manual the oil change is due every 20,000km or 2 years ( there are exceptions ie. low annual mileage or short trips etc. ) . I know the dealers always recommend every 10,000km or an annual service though but I'm not sure if this is an official recommendation for Ireland or not ?

Perhaps contact Alfa Ireland to see if they will help if you can't find a dealer who will agree to replace the variator for you under warranty.
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Communicate nicely directly to Alfa - tell them you love the car but are disappointed by the variator failure. Also mention your previous Alfa(s)/Fiat(s). I did this when my 156 variator started making a strange noise at 3 1/2 years old, and despite a slightly flaky service history (previous owners), Alfa made a contribution towards the cost of the replacement. I would fax a letter Alfa in this kind of situation, as this has a more impact than a phone call or email.
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Perhaps, but it's Alfa's stipulation that you do the cambelt at the same time if you do the Variator. I don't see why I should have to pay for the cambelt if the variator has genuinely gone before it should have. Its not my fault they have to do the belt too.

Either way, I can't help but feel like I'm being screwed by a brand that is dying on its legs and should be doing more than kicking sand in peoples faces to hold onto loyal customers
Its not really so much of a stipulation, just a technicality of replacing the variator. You need to remove the cambelt to change the variator. The dealer is insisting on you paying for a new cambelt because they aren't willing to take the chance of re-tensioning a used belt.

If you do manage to blag the change of the variator without having to pay for anything, the dealer will do the job the cheapest possible way. They will not change the tensioner, idler or cam cover gasket, but will probably put a new belt on it. If they agree to change the variator under warranty, this should cover the labour for the belt change, leaving you to just pay for the parts (tensioner, idler, cam cover gasket and maybe the belt as well). This will work in your favour cost wise, because you won't need to change the cambelt next year. If you don't pay anything now, you will need to change the belt next year again anyway because they won't change the tensioner or idler as part of a variator warranty job.

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As above I would definately speak to Alfa HQ and see what they say , as PUD says they will probably do the job cheaply and not replace what ought to be changed , so reading from above , you have 29k on the car ? and oil changed by airton @19k and may 09 ? what exact mileage have you now ? I have a friend in a dealership in waterford that I could ring on wednesday to see if your reply from the dealer is right and see what he says ? I can pm you his advice and perhaps he may be able to tell me what and who to contact in Alfa HQ .

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In the meantime, just check your oil is at max. As said above low oil can make the variator noisy. You should be topping it up every couple of weeks.

I wouln'd worry too much anyway, the variator wont "fail", it just gets noisy. Even if it's noisy it has no effect on performance or fuel economy. I had a noisy one for 130k miles
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I think you are relying on "goodwill" from Alfa in this case. There's no getting away from the fact that you took the car in after 14 months. However hard it is to swallow, I'd be happy to get the labour covered and pay for the parts. That way you can supply the belts, tensioner etc.
Keep it calm and don't offend the service manager. His efforts on your behalf will make all the difference.
And if you come up against a brick wall, keep trying.
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(Post Link) post #15 of 15 Old 11-08-10 Thread Starter
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Thanks for the input chaps
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