Richard Moss Alfa 166 3L 24V Sportronic - Alfa Romeo Forum
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(Post Link) post #1 of 15 Old 26-10-11 Thread Starter
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Richard Moss Alfa 166 3L 24V Sportronic

I just realised that I never put up a proper, consolidated thread about my car. The following is a "Cut and Past" from another forum.
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May 2010:

All being well, I shall be collecting this next week. It's a 2000 model 166 3L 24V Sportronic. 125,000 km (approx), part service history and a lovely exhaust note.

Cambelt just done, gearbox replaced a couple of months back (and hence under warranty) and generally very appealing. It has a few bumps on the bumpers but of course no rust (we don't get salt on the roads around here).

I'll put up some more piccies when I collect it.

http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...alfa166002.jpg
http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...alfa166003.jpg
http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...alfa166004.jpg
http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...alfa166005.jpg
http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...alfa166006.jpg
http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...alfa166008.jpg
http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...alfa166009.jpg
http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...alfa166010.jpg

Last edited by Richard Moss; 26-10-11 at 11:23.
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(Post Link) post #2 of 15 Old 26-10-11 Thread Starter
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May 17 2010:
I picked this up today and I'm reasonably impressed. It's perhaps a little less refined than a Sterling (a bit too much road noise) and certainly less civilised than an XJ40 but other than that it's magic.

The autobox is a real Jekyl and Hyde - in drive it's quite and civilised but still reasonably brisk but in Sport mode it is a beast. It gets to 120mph in no time at all on the airport approach road (or so I'm told........).

The seating position will take a bit of settling down as the wheel seems a bit remote (an Italian car trait, I gather) but is nice and comfortable. The integrated stereo/CD player/phone/climate control unit is neat too. The only bits that I can see that don't work properly are the cruise control and fuel gauge, but I'm sure I can sort those out, and the centre console lid hinges have snapped.

The brakes are huge and very effective and after the iffy brakes on the hire car I've been using it will take a little getting used to.

All in all I'm rather pleased with it.

May 20 2010:The low ground clearance can be a bit challenging on some of the speed humps here but otherwise it's amazing. Everyone who sees it thinks that it looks and sounds great, they all love the colour and seem to think that I got a bargain. My boss did say "Alfa Romeo - you're not bothered about reliability then, Rich" to which I replied that Alfa's unreliability was clearly a myth as I'd had it 3 days and it hadn't broke down yet.

In Sport mode it changes up at the red line if you have your foot down - and doesn't go into top gear until about 120mph! Even in Drive it's quite happy to hold a gear for a while and it's certainly a rewarding car to drive. The wood rim steering wheel is nicer to look at than to use - 45C+ leads to sweaty palms which makes it a bit slippery but I'm not going to buy some driving gloves.

When pootling the trip computer shows 30mpg plus, with more spirited driving it's mid to low 20s (the UK price equivalent of over 100mpg!).

I've got the cruise control working - it turns out that the switch on the stalk is a bit iffy but it responds to a little patience. The fuel gauge is the next target - I've not found any advice on the net yet and the CD-ROM workshop manual I ordered from the UK has yet to arrive. My money is on the sender unit.

The aircon is just about up to the job, the leather seats and wooden steering wheel are not ideal with this heat - cloth seats and a leather wheel would make more sense - and the ride height is a bit low.

May 27 2010:
The mpg on the trip computer is spot on. I've just done a fill up and the figures came out exactly as the trip computer said they would. I assume that like most cars it takes its data from the injector opening period, rather than tank contents. The dodgy gauge sender obviously makes the "range" function useless, though.

I'll have a run up to Abu Dhabi or Dubai sometime soon and see what I get then. My guess would be mid 20s or a bit more.

I got 22mpg from the last tankful - on a 3 litre auto, aircon on all the time and in almost exclusively urban driving I reckon that's pretty good. Price wise I'm getting the equivalent of 98mpg at UK prices!

One useful find is that I can get touch up paints in the UK at a sensible price - unobtainable here as this car is so rare. I'll be back home for a week at the end of June so will pick some up then.

I'm also starting to look at raising the front ride height a bit = probably with rubber coil inserts , like I use on the back of the LPG equipped cars. The front is about 10-20mm too low to comfortably handle the many, many speed humps here (which are on main roads with an 80kph limit, as well as back roads). Anything more than 5kph is guaranteed to ground out.
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June 04 2010:
The interior is pretty good but there are a few things that let it down.

For example, some of the beige trim panels under the dash are actually painted black plastic (it's a bit like Vinylkote) and it's coming off now after 10 years. Much of the switchgear feels fragile - in fact most of it feels like it's already broken or about to break, even though it's still working. It doesn't feel as well built as an 800, let alone a Jag.

It does have some nice touches though - the door mirrors fold at the touch of a switch and the front seats have a nice Alfa Romeo logo stitched into them.


June 12 2010:

I've got a bit of a clonk from the front left suspension so i had the car up int he air yesterday to check it out. No sign of any wear in the balljoints, the spring and damper look OK so it's quite possibly just wear in the suspension bushes. The temperature out here is quite hard on them and at 10 years old it would be no surprise if it was the bushes going hard and then deteriorating. As the balljoints and track rod end look OK I'm not too worried for now.

I did find a little link that was detached from the wishbone and at first I couldn't work out what it was, Then I remembered something that Rich C said about his Omega and I realised that it was for the ride height sensor that adjusts the HID headlights. I clipped it back on and now have the headlights shining in the right place). Thanks for the tip Rich.

I've ordered a touch up paint from Choose Car paints from the UKs biggest online colour database who have been recommended as being reliable suppliers. A 100ml pot of pearlescent "Aurora", a 30ml pot of plastic primer (for the bumper) and postage to my UK address came out at just over 15 which seems good value. They even included a little brush and delivered within 36 hours of the order being placed. I won't know how good the colour match is for a couple of weeks as I'll be picking it up next week when I come home for a week or so. Tidying up the scratches should make it look much nicer.

I also treated it to a set of mats which set me back 4.50 from my local Carrefour. They're much better than the old ones which had a pattern that looked like offcuts of an old lady's living room carpet. The new ones are a better fit and better colour match - money well spent.
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July 18 2010:

The more I drive this car the more I realise that it's a great engine wrapped up in a mediocre shell. The honeymoon period is over and the deficiencies of the car are becoming ever more evident.

Every time I drive it I get really ****ed off by the absolutely enormous blind spot created by the front pillar - a blind spot so huge that it creates a genuine hazard at roundabouts and T junctions. Much of the blind spot is caused by the steep rake of the pillar and the way it curves over the door and unfortunately the seat does not go low enough to allow me to look under it. The angle of the B pillar also obscures most of my "over shoulder" view, meaning that I'm forced to rely upon my mirrors and they don't give enough coverage on any car.

I had said previously that "it's no Jaguar" - well the facts of life are that not only is it not a match for a Jag, it's not even a match for a Rover 800. The handling is rather poor with terrible understeer, standard switchgear is poor quality and the aircon is feeble compared to most other cars.

All in all, I'm actually pretty disappointed - I shall probably be selling it sooner rather than later
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August 20 2010:

I had a partial brake failure in the Alfa on the way home from Dubai tonight (we'd been shopping in the "local" IKEA).

It looks like the RH front brake caliper has been sticking and causing the pad/caliper/disc and wheel to heat up to the point where the fluid started to boil up and cause the pedal to go soft. After slowing down for a while the feel returned but it was a bit disconcerting.

Tomorrow I shall clean up the caliper and lubricate the pistons. It does need new pads anyway so I'll have to see if I can locate some somewhere.


August 26 2010:
None of the local suppliers seemed interested in sorting out some pads for me - the FIAT dealer (parent company of Alfa, remember) said "call our Dubai branch" and when I did there was no answer. I was hoping to get them to send the pads down here but gave up.

So I called the Alfa main dealer in Dubai, bit the bullet and paid main dealer prices. GBP80 plus another fiver for postage but at least the job is done.

I fitted the pads yesterday and the brake feel is very much improved - the old pads were wafer thin and glazed and well past retirement date. Stopping power is greatly improved and I'm a lot happer now.
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October 30 2010:

I had one of those rare, very satisfying, fault fixing afternoons and cleared up several problems for just a few pennies.

For background, my car has been suffering from poor starting - often taking 3 or 4 attempts to get it running - plus a lumpy idle once it does start. For some time now it has also been noticeably down on power and experiencing the occasional bout of hesitation and these problems made me think that the Mass Air Flow sensor was playing up (a known problem on these and 150 at dealer prices, a bit cheaper elsewhere).

In addition, it appeared to have fuel starvation problems when below 1/2 tank and I suspected a partially blocked fuel filter on the pump. My fuel gauge has also been erratic ever since I bought the car (and before according to the previous owner) but the 300 price of a new combined pump/sender unit was a bit of a turn off.

So today I decided to clean the fuel pump filter and see if that improved matters - after all, it would be a free "fix".

Access via the boot is easy enough - lift out the boot carpet and undo 4 bolt-head screws holding down the access cover. The electrical plug and fuel line come away easily enough and both are just push fit. Getting the pump out was a bit more tricky as it's held down by a big plastic screw ring that did not want to budge and then broke when I tapped it. Luckily I was able to repair the ring by using super glue to join the edges and make up a giant jubilee clip from three smaller ones to wrap around it (sorry, I forgot to take photos).

The pump is spring loaded and pops up and then has to be rotated 90 degrees to pull it out but be careful - it is full of petrol when it comes out! Once it was out I could see the problem immediately - the piece of rubber fuel hose between the main body of the pump and the outlet above it had de-laminated and split. This split would allow a good proportion of the pressurised fuel top escape back into the tank, rather than heading towards the engine. At that point I realised that this could well explain the poor starting and loss of power - the picture below shows the hose (yellow arrow). The hose is just held in with two jubilee clips and to get to the bottom one you have to release the fuel level sender (blue arrows) and three clips holding pump bottom into plastic swirl pot in which it sits.

http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...6/IMG_0049.jpg

This picture (sorry - out of focus) shows the split in the hose and you can also see that most of the outer layer of the hose has come away and was sitting in the swirl pot.

http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...IMG_0042-1.jpg

The contacts on the sender were corroded and pitted so after removing the float (it just unclips and slides off) and pushing out the pivot pin I cleaned them up with a soft wire brush. As the Haynes manuals say, "reassembly was reverse of the disassembly process".

http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...6/IMG_0041.jpg
http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...6/IMG_0044.jpg
http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...6/IMG_0045.jpg

The perished hose was replaced by a piece supplied by my local car spares shop for the equivalent of 2.50 including the new jubilee clips. The outer diameter of the hose is greater but the inner is the same and there is plenty of space to accommodate the extra bulk. These pictures show it all back together.

http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...6/IMG_0046.jpg
http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...6/IMG_0047.jpg
http://i179.photobucket.com/albums/w...6/IMG_0048.jpg

Refitting was straightforward and only took a couple of minutes. The end result is that the car now starts on the first turn of the key, the fuel gauge appears to read correctly and I've got the power back! It is certainly smoother and quicker to drive which is no surprise given the fact that it will have been starved of fuel even at the best of times. I'll need to monitor the fuel gauge for a while but the current reading matches what I expect to see. Instead of paying 250-300 for a pump, 100+ for MAF sensor and the ridiculous cost of shipping them out here I have got away with 2.50 and a couple of hours of my (free) labour. I also have the great satisfaction of having done it myself.

Next job - coil springs and that is unlikely to be so cheap.
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December 30 2010:

Before my little medical problem I ordered some rubber block spring assisters to try to stop the suspension bottoming out. Unfortunately, they arrived whilst I was "unavoidably detained" in intensive care and so they have sat around for some time waiting to be fitted.

In the meantime, after I came out of hospital, the ****ing car gave me some grief - the battery lost a cell, wouldn't hold a charge and killed my alternator in the process.

A new battery was fitted and a second hand alternator acquired. I had to go for a used alternator because, believe it or not, neither the Alfa dealer nor Bosch can supply a new or reconditioned unit - for a car just 10 years old. Even then it cost 200 but that was better than the 860 that the Alfa dealer said would have been the price if it had been available.

At least the battery was good value - it's a huge, truck battery sized thing and rated at 88amp hours and only cost 55. I did discover that there is a 125amp fuse in the boot which is designed to protect the starter cable if it shorts out - at some time in the past the fuse had blown and some rocket scientist had replaced it with a skinny bit of wire that was showing signs of overheating. That has been sorted temporarily by bypassing it but will need to be replaced with the proper item soon.

The replacement alternator was fitted today and works - pushing out a nice, healthy 14.2 volts. A few other bits of tidying up on under wing shields etc were done at the same time.

I also fitted the rubber block type spring assisters at the front and that has made a huge difference to the way it handles speedbumps. The front feels a lot more taut and no longer bottoms out. The rears will be done tomorrow.

I'll try to get some photos done soon.
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January 12 2011:


Unfortunately, I've had to invest in a couple of tyres - one of the rears was found to have serious cracks in the inner tyrewall although the outer one was perfect. As the spare was a bit ropey, I bought a couple of tyres for the rear and the good rear tyre became the spare.

On the positive side, new tyres here are pretty good value for money and I got two supplied, fitted and balanced for about 100 - 225/45 x 17" Altenzo tyres (supposedly designed for Australia). They seem to do the job nicely, quiet, grip nicely and the car feels stable..

The dodgy tyre had these sort of cracks all round the inner tyre wall - I'd say that they went 50% of the way through the sidewall! I'd just used the car for a round trip to Dubai the previous night, at speeds up to 120km/h with 5 people on board:

http://i879.photobucket.com/albums/a.../Image0025.jpg
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April 2011:

Still haven't got round to selling this!

My 166 has headlight washers (a legal requirement for Xenon headlights) but they have never worked in all the time I've owned the car. Expecting the worst (a pump fault) I've just ignored it.

Today, whilst going through the "fuses and relays" section of the handbook (looking for something else) I found that it has a timer relay for the headlamp wash system and remembering that I've had trouble with cracked solder joints on similar relays on other cars (mainly Rovers............) I thought I'd have a go at it.

I cut the cover off the relay, resoldered all the joints (including an obviously cracked one!) and it now works perfectly. If only I'd bothered to look at it 12 months ago. At least it was a free fix.

The relay in question is a tall black Valeo one with the markings "A 385" and "67711971" on it.

Out of interest, I did a little experimenting and if I don't mind losing the timed function you can fit an ordinary 4-contact relay and the headlamp washers will operate for as long as a) the headlights are on and b) you're pulling the stalk. If I use a 5-contact "changeover" relay or the washers will run permanently whenever the headlights are on.

This success makes up for the annoying faff that is slidelight bulb replacement - a really awkward, irritating job.
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May 24 2011:
I took this down for its local "MOT" earlier. The cost is 120 Dirhams (20) and it goes through a production line-type arrangement (as I remember the Spanish ITV test doing).

Anyway , I got a first time pass. I knew that the brakes would be OK, though, they are fantastic. I expected it to be a case of "if it starts, stops, doesn't catch fire and nothing falls on the tester's head - you pass" and that is pretty much what it looked like.

What made me laugh was that the chap in front of me at the paperwork desk got a "fail" on his car - I wonder how bad that had to be to fail?

Just a (hopefully) interesting snippet of information. Unfortunately for me, my nearest Alfa dealer is in another COUNTRY so I often have to source parts where and when I can:

The oil filter used on 3.3L and 3.8L Chrysler Voyagers is a direct fit for the one on an Alfa 166 V6 and also on the Alfa 164 and Lancia Kappa. Same size, shape etc and it does have the required anti-drain valve in it, too.

I used a CHAMP (Champion) PH2835 but it can also be a FRAM PH3614, Mopar ML3614 and dozens of other ones. Interestingly, it also fits a load of tractors, combine harvesters, lawn mowers, Yugos and Toyota Supras!
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I really must sell this - is anyone interested?
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Originally Posted by Richard Moss View Post
I really must sell this - is anyone interested?
Quite a thread Richard. Well done.

Why are you selling it?
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To be honest, I've never really "warmed" to the car and it has been sitting outside my house practically unused since about february. I'm using a Chevrolet Lumina Coupe and Jeep Grand Cherokee these days, both of which suit my requirements better than the Alfa.

If anyone is interested, it's available to buy..............

It really needs new springs and dampers plus the aircon compressor has sprung a leak. I'm happy to discuss prices that reflect the work needed.
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Originally Posted by Richard Moss View Post
To be honest, I've never really "warmed" to the car and it has been sitting outside my house practically unused since about february. I'm using a Chevrolet Lumina Coupe and Jeep Grand Cherokee these days, both of which suit my requirements better than the Alfa.

If anyone is interested, it's available to buy..............

It really needs new springs and dampers plus the aircon compressor has sprung a leak. I'm happy to discuss prices that reflect the work needed.
Such a shame, I would have bought it if I didn't have so many cars. The 166 is a fantastic car
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I thought my 166 Aurora was the only one in the UAE. I guess I was wrong. I got mine sold a couple of weeks ago (basically scrapped for dirt cheap) after transmission failure. Didn't want to take the chances of fixing the tranny and not being able to sell the car. There's a very limited market for the 166s here I guess. Anyway, glad I found another Aurora owner.
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