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Discussion Starter #1
Hi there. I have had a few issues with my Alfa 159 (love it, but it does not seem to like me) but the latest issue is two failed Welch plugs... The service centre is saying it may take a day to replace them, but they may need to remove the engine and thus require 20 hours of labour... On top of that, one of the Welch plugs is on back-order and could take 3 weeks.

Does any of this ring true?

Does it really take that long to replace the plugs? Are Alfa 159 Welch plugs unique?
 

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On my 147 JTDM 1.9 they're on the back of the block, where there is no room whatsoever and lousy access. I spotted them earlier this week as I have the inlet manifold off. A fair bit of dismantling to get that far. I'll have a look tomorrow and see whether access is good enough to be able to replace them, I'd expect the 5cyl to be similar.

Has it been run without antifreeze? Core plugs don't normally give trouble otherwise. No antifreeze will mean they corrode quickly as they're only mild steel - or get displaced when the block begins to freeze. The only time I've replaced them was during a (non-Alfa) engine-out strip and rebuild just as a matter of course.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
On my 147 JTDM 1.9 they're on the back of the block, where there is no room whatsoever and lousy access. I spotted them earlier this week as I have the inlet manifold off. A fair bit of dismantling to get that far. I'll have a look tomorrow and see whether access is good enough to be able to replace them, I'd expect the 5cyl to be similar.

Has it been run without antifreeze? Core plugs don't normally give trouble otherwise. No antifreeze will mean they corrode quickly as they're only mild steel - or get displaced when the block begins to freeze. The only time I've replaced them was during a (non-Alfa) engine-out strip and rebuild just as a matter of course.
Thanks for your reply. I have to confess that I do not even know if it has anti-freeze. I have always had the car serviced by the dealer. Being in Melbourne I am not sure if it is normal to add anti-freeze...
 

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Even in hot climates antifreeze is essential for it's anti-corrosion properties. Paraflu, Alfa's recommended antifreeze, is bright pink, and should be visible in the plastic header tank where you top up levels. Other coolant mixtures are typically pink, blue or green - antifreeze is poisonous and invariably dyed to distinguish it from gin and tonic. What shouldn't be there is clear liquid which will be plain water.

Depending on how bad the plugs are leaking it may be worth trying a cooling system 'stop leak' additive. I'd ask locally to see what is recommended.

I just looked at my car. The 1.9 has one core plug pretty much central and fairly high up, on the bulkhead side of the block. Once the inlet manifold is off, access is good enough to drill it, insert a screw, jemmy it out and replace it. Where a second one might be is a mystery, although the 2.4 may be different and have two plugs where the 1.9 only has one. Assuming both have two, it could be underneath the support bracket for the high pressure fuel pump (the pump has to come out to remove the inlet manifold - but there is no need to disturb the timing belt unless the support bracket is removed as the pulley for the pump can be bolted to the bracket to hold its position). Or it could be at the front, beneath the exhaust manifold and turbo.

Lots of dismantling, to get to it/them. I don't think the dealer is exaggerating. Engine out may actually be a good efficient option if a belt change and/or clutch are imminent-ish. But I think I'd explore the sealant additive option first, at about 0.5% of the cost.
 

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Thanks for your comments. I don't actually have the car right now - the dealer has it and I am away at the moment (so I can't even check the work-orders to see if anti-freeze was added). My son has been driving it for the past 2 years and was in the car when he first noticed the temperature rising and thus added water. Not too long afterwards the temperature started rising again and he could see some steam - so it was taken straight to the dealer and left there (that's over three weeks ago!). My fear, therefore, is that the product that could plug small leaks may not cope if the leak is that bad - but I don't know. Thanks for the suggestion.
 
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