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Hi guys,

I noticed a 1998 164 3.0 automatic close to where I live. It's for sale and I should be able to get it at a very cheap price. The dealership that was trying to sell it went bankrupt, so it's been standing in one place for months. The engine was last started in October. Apparently it was in very good mechanical condition back then, but wouldn't bits of the car start deteriorating after spending all this time just standing outdoors? The body seems pretty good and I couldn't see any rust, but I'm wondering if the belts and some of the fluids wouldn't have become solid by now...

What do you guys think?
 

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get it serviced, get the pipes with fluids (brake, power steering etc) checked, change the tyres and you should be fine. I think.
 

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Broadly speaking, you'll probably be ok - 164s are incredibly well-built and durable. At 1998, there shouldn't be any rust underneath but worth having a good poke around the jacking points (4 inverted "egg-cups" welded to the underside of the floorpan - one at each corner) just in case. Also look at the leading edge of the rear wheelarches where the rear doors cover them.

As you say, get the belts CHANGED if you don't know the history, you really, REALLY, don't want a 24 valve V6 with a snapped cam belt! You need to take the other belt(s) off when doing the cam belt so you may as well replace it (them) too - they're not expensive (well, not compared to the labour of doing a cam belt anyway)! I'm not familiar with the 24-valvers but obviously change the tensioner(s) / idler(s) too and I think some people change the water pump as a matter of course while they're at it. Think of it as part of the purchase price of the car - it will feel better that way!

With any car that has been stood for a long time, check to see if you have any seized brakes - especially the rear callipers. That's not uncommon. Also, if it has been on a used car lot for a while, it will have been run for very short periods just to move it about so the exhaust might have one or more rotten silencers (or soon-to-be-rotten). I'm not familiar with autos but obviously check that the box can select (and hold) all gears.

Other than that, carry out the (infamous) "stepper motor" check if it has climate control. I believe the "pikey-spec" cars had three round knobs for heater controls and these are pretty simple and robust. The ones with climate control have a load of push-buttons for temperature and distribution of the air. With the engine warm and running, make sure the air goes where it's supposed to each time you press a different button and make sure the temperature changes as required. There are little stepper motors with plastic gearboxes behind the dash and they can strip their teeth - it's a dashboard-out job to change them and it's NOT for the faint-hearted!

While on the subject of climate control, if it has that, it will have an LCD display for cabin temp on the dash. I believe they are prone to failing (one or more segments not lighting up) and a good working one is a rare and precious thing!

Finally, check any other electrical "toys" - sunroof, seat motors, mirrors, etc.
 

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Yes, the 164 is a beautiful car (Pinnifarina body design) that will have you grinning, if it's not got problem(s).
You can get metal stepper motor gear sets for the climate control from Alfa Romeo 164 - stepper gears & problem solving based in Oz. This is, as Avocet mentioned, an infamous fault with the 164 and if you do take on the repair (believe me it will fail if not already failed), put in these metal gears. Also, get your ECU protected from coolant leaks.
 

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You will love the Auto apart from fuel consumptiom;When put in Sport mode the torque available for overtaking is phenomenal.
The problems are likely to be electrical .Make sure the battery is kept fully charged,and check all earths,and connectors .The best site for technical info and diagrams is the Alfa164 Register.com a Dutch site.
If the car has an immobiliser and key code ,see if the number is available in the paperwork.It is not supplied in europe and only available through dealers.normally.but SA might be different.
An annoying feature of the car is the weak boot struts that do not hold the boot open.
Underneath ,the rear cross member can corrode ,but often flaking paint makes surface rust seem worse that it really is.A frequent reason for MOT fail in the UK.is due to lack of care with under the body maintenance
The auto gear shift might be stiff after standing a long time ,but a spray of oil lubricant on the linkage will loosen it up.The gearbox speedo sensor can fail ,but repairable if a replacement part is hard to find
It will warm the hearts of fellow owners to hear another 164 is back on the road.
Go for it .
 
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