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150 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
It's a long story, please stay with it as I want to give the whole background to get an informed answer....

2 months ago my clutch went (165k km). I had just moved house here in Belgium and was desperately looking for a new alfa garage, preferably an independant. My previous (dealer) garage had done a good job maintaining the car but they charged like a wounded bull, refused to communicate with me in English (OK, at least partially my fault, but it's my money fgs) and insisted that I deal with them between 8 and 4 monday to friday (when do you think I work...?)

So, the missus took a walk round the neighbourhood and lo and behold, an alfa garage that's not a dealer ... 500m from our house! must be providence.

I took my ailing car to them and they looked it over and confirmed the clutch needed replacing. The quote was 400 parts + 400 labour (Euros) but they were closing for the summer and couldn't do the job till August. Not a big problem for me, I was off on holidays the next week anyway.

/edit, thanks to Cuore_Sportivo_155 for offering up a quick solution at the time!

I drove the car for 2 more days (about 250km) until, merging on the Bxl ring road, I punched the accelerator in 4th to see the revs climb, but no speed. I suppose the clutch had given up completely. Gentle on the accelerator I could still get power to the wheels so I coaxed her home. By the time I got there there was a god awful noise coming from under the car in neutral. not grinding but a heavy spinning sort of thing. Bloody hell, but nvm, I think, I'm off on hols soon and my new garage will sort her out in August.

Fast forward to August....

I take the car to them. They fix it. 900 euros all in. The engineer mentions that he found a hole in the gearbox (my french isn't great, I think he meant that the thrust bearing had pushed in so far that oil was able to slop out of the gearbox) and that some oil had leaked out but that it had not been dry. He had patched the hole (nothing on the invoice about this, just new oil) and he said I was lucky.

Next day, in my way in there's a nasty noise coming from the transmission somewhere. Nothing like as loud as the one before the clutch was fixed but a similar spinning transmission sound.

I took it back to the garage and they drove around with me for 10 minutes. Of course, she did not perform for an audience and no sound was apparant. The garage were perfectly nice about it and said of course come in if you've got any concerns, and they checked briefly underneath for any oil but came up dry. I became convinced that I was just being a bit paranoid.

Next day, driving home from work, the same sound is back ... then 5th gear is gone Grinds like it's trying to engage but won't. sh*t, I think, that's that then, straight back to the garage. Traffic ahead and I slow down, shifting into 3rd (at least that was the intention) and boom. crunch. grind. sh*t - clutch - glide onto the shoulder. Now it seems stuck in gear. Gear stick will move but I can't get it into neutral. I call Touring (The AA).

When they pull the car up onto the bed I notice about 1/2 litre of oil under the engine that has metal flecks in it. I'm not a mechanic but I am an engineer and I know that that is not good. Brilliant.

Back at the garage the mechanic confirms a busted gearbox and apologises for sending me out after a major repair like that. He speaks to my wife (I'm back at work and the garage boss only speaks french, mine isn't good enough to discuss cars over the phone) and tells her that a new gear box will be 1700Euro+VAT but that he has a 2nd hand one available with 90k km on it for 500+VAT. The car's only worth about 5-6k so we go with the 2nd hand box.

They offerred to do the work on Saturday but I had a replacement car from Touring so I said don't worry, Tuesday is fine.

Picking the car up and the bill is 1100 Euros (incl VAT). 500 in labour.

Thanks for staying with me this long. here's the punchline...

- Should they have spotted the fact that the box was 2 days from failure when changing the clutch or not?
- Would labour to change clutch and gearbox together be as much as doing it separately (I know the 2.4 is more difficult to work on than the 1.9, I've seen the difference in the enginebay working space for myself)
- Should they have changed the diff at the same time or at least checked it? (I'm worried that the flecks in the oil were from the diff, but don't know)
- How do the rates sound?

I want to trust these guys. Their workshop is immaculate and they constantly have a fleet of out of warranty alfas in for repair and service, which makes me feel at home. They are welcoming and keen and nearby. I just have this feeling that they made a mistake in missing the gearbox and I ended up paying (double labour) for it, but I have an equal feeling that that isn't reasonable. Perhaps one of you lot who actually work on these cars can halp guide me.


9 Posts

Previously had a 147 which gave up third gear and needed the gearbox rebuilt. Found it was cheaper to for for a low milage box and whilst the gearbox was off had the clutch changed too. Labour to change the clutch alone would normally be £150-200 but when it was changed along with the gearbox, there was no labour charge since the whole lot had to come out anyway.

I would say that had the garage done both gearbox and clutch together, you would've saved a small fortune in labour.

Also, was the metal that was left in the oil on the road from the weld the mechanic had done on the gearbox?? Cant have been a great job if it was. I'd have a bit of an argument about the whole thing and try to get a few quid back.

Anyway. Just got a 156 after wrecking the 147 and low and behold, another stuffed gearbox. The cost of gearbox and clutch in exchange for a wrecked 147 that the insurance company gave me back . Plus a full service and some nice shiny new brakes.
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