Cold weather - Engine wont turn over! - Alfa Romeo Forum
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Cold weather - Engine wont turn over!

Hi All - Hoping you can help.

As we may have all noticed its getting cold again and its my first autumn/winter with my '98 Alfa 156 TS.

I havent been using the car that often as I now work from home. Take it out occassionally to pick stuff up but nothing serious. I went to turn it on yesterday and it was cold out and took 1 or 2 goes to get her started. Battery is fine and all, radio, heating all come on. It just didnt seem to want to bite.

This morning - same problem but I actually couldnt get her to start. Nada. Again battery seems fine and everything.

I was putting it down to the cold weather and maybe the sparks not kicking in? Then I went and checked the coolant - and it looks empty

To be honest its my own fault but I was using it so little its slipped my mind to keep on top of these things.

I'm a bit of a newb to cars but I know this is bad.

What are my options? Top up Coolant - try again? Is it even the coolant that could have caused this? Top up engine oil and water.

Anything else I should be checking to make sure I can get here started? Was serviced pretty well about 5 months ago - new sparks, variator, belts, etc..

Appreciate any help on this!
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(Post Link) post #2 of 12 Old 19-10-11 Thread Starter
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Have run Diag.

Hey - Sorry if the first post was ominous..I was in a bit of a panic earlier.

I ran an Alfa Diag after work and have attached the 2 screenshots. Going to do a bit of research on what the Lambda is as this is the one that seems to have failed.

Hopefully this helps if anyone has any ideas.

The other 2 faults are known issues that I spoke to Gerry in TI about before.. we had planned to fix them in the winter.. guess I'll be calling him sooner than I hoped!

Cheers.
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File Type: jpg fault_1.jpg (56.6 KB, 15 views)
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hi d, I highly doubt a lack of coolant would lead to your engine not starting, it should still start but then overheat
the lambda wont cause it either i dont think, its just for controlling exhaust emissions I think. is there any lights on the dash staying on while your turning the key? for example is the keycode light staying on? I dont think its your battery, defo sounds like something else
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Hi there, was the starter engaging? Could be a loose connection or a faulty starter.
 
(Post Link) post #5 of 12 Old 20-10-11 Thread Starter
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Hi - Cheers for the reply.

I'm only getting the key to the MAR position, if I try the engine it just clicks and everything kind of switches off. 2 days ago I got it to kick in and start by pushing in the accelerator and boom she started!

When i'm in MAR with the key though I have the Oil Pressure light and battery light showing on the dash - but as far as I know (and I could be wrong) these lights only go off when the engine actually kicks in? All the others turn themselves off.

Could it be damp sparks or something?
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Check the connections at the battery, they could be loose or corroded. If corroded then loosen the nuts & remove the terminals, then pour boiling water over the terminals and poles to melt off the corrosion. Perhaps remove the battery & recharge it.
 
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Cheers Lacken - I will give that a go around lunch. The connections to the battery arent great and I can see that... The only thing that puzzles me is that the connection is there to run the electronics in the car and allow me to run diag.

But I guess starting the engine needs that little bit more.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lacken156 View Post
Check the connections at the battery, they could be loose or corroded. If corroded then loosen the nuts & remove the terminals, then pour boiling water over the terminals and poles to melt off the corrosion. Perhaps remove the battery & recharge it.

+1 on the battery terminal posts...

If you're seeing lights (Red oil pressure and battery) illuminated prior to cracking that's normal.. IF, when you crank, there is a 'click' from the engine and all the lights extinguish (including your dome/interior light) then you have one of three problems:

1 - Car Battery issues- dead cells internally - need new battery.

2- Dirty corroded battery terminal posts (or dirty corroded battery connectors/clamps) - Need to clean.

3 - Broken/Jammed/Stuck started motor - break out the spanners.

My money would be option '2'.. the corroded (fur) surfaces between the battery posts and the crimps/clamps. I remember our 156 used to have savage fur growing on the negative terminal.. I don't now if it was due to the metal alloy in the negative crimp or the chemical make up of the last battery in there... but I would have to clean and de-fur 2 to 3 times a year.

There is a tool for cleaning the posts.. see picture of 'silver tool' included here. I think they were a few euro in Halfords a few years back.. if used gently it'll last >10 years. It comes in two parts.. the piece you see below slides over the battery post and 'sands down' the fur.. the 2nd piece has this internal wire brush from cleaning the inside surface of the battery leads/crimp/clamps.


Also just included a typical picture of battery 'fur' so I don't sound mad...

BTW. an O2 (lamba) fail or error shouldn't stop a car from cranking/starting.

The missing coolant needs to be investigated asap too. Hopefully it's a cracked pipe or leaky radiator... I hope it's not a gasket issue. Does the engine oil (on dip stick) look brown/black? Or is there mayonnaise in there?

Best of luck with car, keep us posted!
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File Type: jpg postCleaner.jpg (3.5 KB, 51 views)

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when the poles & terminals are shiney then refit the terminals & cover them in grease to seal the moisture out.
 
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Ditto, clean battery terminals, if that doesnt help, looking likely to be a failing starter motor.
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Success!!!

Hey All - Thanks for the posts/tips and the detail you went too -really helpful!

So I gave her a bit of love yesterday evening, took out the battery - cleaned down the poles - I had a soft wire brush to tidy up the small bit of corrosion on it and came up a treat.

I was able to borrow a battery charger from a mate and had her charging over night. And this morning... she started like a dream!

I was really thrown off by the fact the car battery was still powering the electronics as I've had a few dead batteries in my time and usually nothing works.

Have also topped up coolant and oil - the oil was looking ok - dark dark brown to black. Will keep an eye on the coolant but I reckon it was pure negligence on my part that it went so low. Learned a lesson here tho..you got to keep on top of them or they'll punish you! The same can be said for a lot of other things tho!

I think it is time for a new battery and small check in to Gerry to get a few of her other quirks looked at. The Air con has a mind of its own!

Thanks again all
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well done my good man
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