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Discussion Starter #1
Hello...

Parked my dad's Alfa 159 2.2 JTS up on his drive on Saturday night after using it to drop my Grandma back home (my MR2 is a bit harsh and low for a 86 year old), locked up and went in the house.

About 20 minutes later, we heard a car alarm going off, I went outside to look, saw a car off the bottom of the drive flashing, thought that's not mine or my dad's and came back in.

My dad went out in the morning to find his car had rolled back down the drive, taking out the end of a very solid stone wall with his rear bumper :eek:

Clearly, I didn't put the handbrake on enough (no, I didn't leave it in gear, won't make that mistake again). Thing is, to take out the wall, it must have been moving pretty fast, which means that the handbrake didn't just release slightly, it must have let go completely. The car stayed solid on the slope when I got out and locked up, then stayed fine for ~20 minutes before deciding to release.

Anyone else had a similar problem? I'm used to the handbrake on my 15 year old and 19 year old MR2's working. Having now read the Alfa handbook, it does say to leave in gear, and chock the wheels on a steep slope!! From that, it sounds like Alfa have little faith in their handbrake, which seems pretty poor for a new car.

Anyway, if you park your 159 on a slope, really yank that handbrake on, and leave it in gear... I guess I was lucky in some respects, if the wall hadn't been there, then the car would have found the even steeper road, and made it's way into someones living room.

Cheers,
Jon
 

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I don't think it matters what car you drive - manual, you leave it in first gear pointing downhill or reverse pointing uphill, auto you put it in park. As well as using the handbrake.

I don't think it's a case of Alfa having little faith in their handbrakes - no-one should ever rely on a handbrake alone, regardless of make of car, Rolls, Ferrari, you name it......
 

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Same problem can happen with all cars that have a handbrake operating disc brakes. You pull the handbrake on when all is hot, when the metal cools down and contracts the pads can loose grip - You therefore really need to pull the cable up tight. Saabs of old were worse as the handbrake was on front disc brakes!

Drum brakes do not have the same issue - What has your MR2 got?
 

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1st gear down or up hill, makes no difference. 1st gear is the gear with most resistance, hence should always be used regardless of where the car is pointing.

Have you checked the handbrake since the accident? Might be buggered.
 
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Alfa seem to be pretty bad at adjusting the handbrake
in the factory.

Had this happen with my 147 and also had the dealer tighten
the handbrake on the Brera too as it didn't hold on steep slopes
from new. (Creaking and groaning, had to park in gear.)

It's not just Alfas. Citroens are pretty bad too.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Drum brakes do not have the same issue - What has your MR2 got?
BIG discs of course :) To be fair, the hand brake cables seize on the older ones, but they usually seize on.

I'd agree with the heat/discs/contraction theory, but I'd only driven the car 8 miles, and wasn't hard on the brakes, so they shouldn't have been hot at all.

The handbrake does still work, my dad says that he usually gives it an extra notch anyway, guess I just wasn't used to it.

How does the handbrake work on the 159, is it cable driven or hydraulic?

The car's pretty tough, it only made a bit of a gouge in the rear bumper, and shifted half a tonne of wall!

Cheers,
Jon
 

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Havent myself but a work mate had the exact same experience recently with a week old 159, luckily, no damage. I never leave a car in gear, never have done habit from my learner days when my instructor told me never to do it. When people borrow the car I curse them as I am not in the habit of checking for neutral when starting (as i never need to personally) and the car ends up jumping forward when i turn the engine over, so annoying.

Nevr had a problem myself though.
 

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Always leave it parked in gear.
Doesn't matter what vehicle it is, the handbrake should never be relied on 100%.
 

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Sounds as though the discs cooled down after use, contracted and then slipped the handbrake.

Not the cars 'fault', more a case of a problem common to all handbrakes of this design.

A lesson learned - but ouch all the same.

(its happened to me too, but at the Nurburgring after a very hot set of brakes started to cool down - I was lucky though!)
 

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Havent myself but a work mate had the exact same experience recently with a week old 159, luckily, no damage. I never leave a car in gear, never have done habit from my learner days when my instructor told me never to do it. When people borrow the car I curse them as I am not in the habit of checking for neutral when starting (as i never need to personally) and the car ends up jumping forward when i turn the engine over, so annoying.

Nevr had a problem myself though.
Ideally you should start up with the clutch disengaged. Less for the starter motor to do, gives it a longer life and its safer. Some yank tanks won't even let you start up without your foot on the clutch...
 

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There was a spate of complaints about this a while back, not with Alfa but Renault I think. What was happening was that people were not using the ratchet to apply the brake and they were holding the button in. If you do that you will not get as much force as when you use the ratchet properly. Apparently they were worried about wearing out the ratchet. It should outlive the car easily unless you are a driving instructor!
 

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There was a spate of complaints about this a while back, not with Alfa but Renault I think. What was happening was that people were not using the ratchet to apply the brake and they were holding the button in. If you do that you will not get as much force as when you use the ratchet properly. Apparently they were worried about wearing out the ratchet. It should outlive the car easily unless you are a driving instructor!
It is better to press the button in while applying the handbrake rather than letting it click up on the ratchet.

That has very little to do with the car rolling away anyway, not leaving it in gear is the cause of rolling away in every case.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
.... not leaving it in gear is the cause of rolling away in every case.
Surely the handbrake not doing it's job properly is the cause. Yes, if you leave it in gear it might mask the problem and it might not have happened (on a light slope), but then if you parked it on the flat it wouldn't happen either. It's a belt and braces approach that I agree makes sense, but shouldn't be necessary.
 

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It is better to press the button in while applying the handbrake rather than letting it click up on the ratchet.

That has very little to do with the car rolling away anyway, not leaving it in gear is the cause of rolling away in every case.
I agree its better to push the button in when pulling on the handbrake, saves wearing out the ratchet. But I always give it one last little pull without the button pressed in just to make sure the ratchet is actually engaged.

Surely the handbrake not doing it's job properly is the cause. Yes, if you leave it in gear it might mask the problem and it might not have happened (on a light slope), but then if you parked it on the flat it wouldn't happen either. It's a belt and braces approach that I agree makes sense, but shouldn't be necessary.
But the handbrake's job isn't securing the car when the engine is off. The handbrake's job is securing the car when the engine is on. Its the gearbox's job to secure the car when the engine is off, the handbrake is the backup.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
But the handbrake's job isn't securing the car when the engine is off. The handbrake's job is securing the car when the engine is on. Its the gearbox's job to secure the car when the engine is off, the handbrake is the backup.
Sorry, I can't agree with you there. The handbrake on most cars will hold the car safely on a steep slope. There's no way that the gearbox / engine will hold most cars on a steep slope (unless you've got an auto, but that's different).
 

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I think many are missing the point here, to be told to always leave it in gear when I havent in 20 years of driving without a problem is a little patronising. The point is 'we shouldnt have to!!' the hand brake should be well constructed and relaible on ALL cars, especially as it is a safety device. What next? always leave the lights on on case we have a surprise total eclipse??

I am quite shocked, ok that was an understatement, that people anywhere actually think that the hand brake is the SECONDARY means of securing the car, new flash...the gearbox isnt designed to hold the car, it just happens to, the hand brake is designed to secure the car from rolling when there is no drive engaged or when there is do drivER engaged.

I believe it was vauxhall Vectras that have the well documented design fault (as highlighted by watchdog) whereby the ratchet sometimes doesnt properly engage.

Does the 159 share the handbrake mechanism??? are we onto something here????
 

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79000 new Honda Civics were recalled for being highly susceptible to this problem, in fact a friend of mine had his Civic roll into the road and get scraped by a van that just had to squeeze past. I also saw a VW Golf roll into someone elses car in a car park and he swore blind that the handbrake was on.

I always leave it in gear ever since the handbrake cable popped out on my first car on a hill (a Mini 1000). NEVER trust just the handbrake. It's not a difficult habit to get into.
 
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