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Discussion Starter #1
Morning,

I am new to Alfa ownership having bought a 2.0 TS GTV Spider almost on impulse after predominantly looking for Breras and Brera spiders for the past two months.
The car is in good nick and the previous owner loved Alfas, having several others in a collection. The gearbox has been rebuilt at a cost of £800, a new airbag ECU was fitted last summer and a previous owner has changed the exhaust, replacing with an Alfa original.

The car drives beautifully but it’s service history was lost by a previous owner to the last one. In the last few years I can see that the car has wanted for nothing, but the lack of a cambelt record on a 17 year old car is making me very nervous. There’s also a record of a £500 new rear window and a few MOTs. It’s MOT history is excellent with only the exhaust failing over its lifetime. So I have a couple of questions before the belt, water pump and a few other jobs are done by an Alfa specialist next week:

Do all TS engines make a slightly diesel-ey noise on cold startup that goes away quickly or is it the cam variator? Would you advise the mechanic to change the variator?
Would you still drive the car to work and on short errand journeys, e.g 8 miles there/back to work, food shopping what have you, before next Friday (28th Feb) without revving the engine too hard? Or would you avoid driving at all costs?
Other than that I adore the car and drove it back home on a longer run with a very wide smile.
Thanks for your help,
Craig
 

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The sound you describe usually the variator, although without actually hearing it no way of saying for sure. No issue with driving the car that way however the unknown is how old the belts are. It will be a gamble you have to decide on whether to take the chance on driving it.
All I'd say is that if you are having to pay someone to change the belts then I'd drive as little as possible until they are done as the cost of an engine rebuild or replacement if the belt lets go won't be cheap.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks that’s great, I’ll only drive if absolutely necessary. Just wondering how to keep the battery charged with difficult to access mains sockets!
 

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You could take battery out to charge.
TS needs the belt changed every 36k. The original variators were rather poor but changed. Your car probably has a later one. The TS oil drilling to the variator are quite small so noise is a feature for 2-3 seconds even with a good variator.k
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The diesel noise isn’t as loud as some on YouTube and I watched Italia Auto’s cambelt change video. The car he was working on made a similar noise after the cambelt was changed so I wonder if I’m being a car hypochondriac.

The previous owner very generously threw in a ctek charger which I’ll put on once this incessant weather dies down. I have paid for the car to be trailered to the garage which might sound excessive but I’ve been saving 10 years for an Alfa of my own that’s good enough to daily. I don’t want to take any risks.

How would you describe your car’s sound when you first start it? Is there any noise or is it dead smooth?

Thanks so much for replying, I’d become quite familiar with VW engines but an Alfa is a new and slightly scary new challenge for me. I’m still very much learning. Community seems fantastic though.

Also which oil do you use and how often do you have to top up? I do about 500 miles a month.
 

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Any diesel like noise on startup usually means that the seals inside the variator has started to fail. The variator works by using a pressurised oil feed, and when it is in good condition oil will remain inside it at all times, however when the seal fails oil drains back out when the engine has stopped causing a rattle on start until it fills itself back up. When they get really bad they can rattle at certain RPM with the engine running as well.

I used to run all of my TS cars on a good quality 5w40 fully synthetic such as Shell Helix, Fuchs, Havoline or whatever was on offer at the time along with a genuine oil filter.

Sounds like you have got a really nice example apart from the variator noise.
 

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I had a similar decision to make when I owned a 147 1.6TS. I changed the cam belt and water pump plus pulley's but decided not to do the variator, it wasnt too bad after all. Within a couple of months I was stripping it all down again to change the variator. I did all the work myself, imagine paying the garage another load of labour. ;)

PS Ensure you get a genuine Alfa Romeo Variator, go to Shop4Parts or Alfaworkshop NOT Ebay.
 
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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you, I’m taking the car to an Alfa specialist on Wednesday and see what they say, based on your reply if they say a variator is needed I’ll go for it.

I’m not sure whether it was just a cold night anymore and I’d not started it in very cold conditions before, I’ve watched loads of vids on YouTube and none of them are noise-free.
 

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When I buy a 'new' car I tend to check all it's fluids every week for at least a month. That way I find out what is normal consumption for my new purchase. I like to keep my cars fluids between the min and max marks.

Twin sparks generally burn through a bit of oil, so keep that in mind.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks I’m pleased to say the cause of the rattly noise was found, a very flappy cambelt and a tensioner on its way out, variator was absolutely fine. I’ve had a full service, cambelt, water pump, sparks and brake fluid done. Can’t wait to pick the car up later.
I am off to buy some oil this weekend. What would you recommend, I know it’s 10w40 semi-synthetic but any particular brand?
Also how often do you top your cars’ oil up?
 

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Thanks I’m pleased to say the cause of the rattly noise was found, a very flappy cambelt and a tensioner on its way out, variator was absolutely fine. I’ve had a full service, cambelt, water pump, sparks and brake fluid done. Can’t wait to pick the car up later.
I am off to buy some oil this weekend. What would you recommend, I know it’s 10w40 semi-synthetic but any particular brand?
Also how often do you top your cars’ oil up?
Read the previous post. Well done on the variator.
 

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My favoured oil for a TS is 5w/40 Shell Helix Ultra or Motul X-cess. The Shell is best for keeping the engine clean and the Motul possibly better for arduous use and slightly less oil consumption. Both are extremely good mid priced products.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thanks, the garage (an Alfa specialist) used 10w40.
So pleased with the difference some maintenance has made, changing the belts, service, sparks, brake fluid etc. Absolutely loved driving it today. Definitely got the bug after 10 years’ boring VAG group motoring. Brilliant cars.
 
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