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Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys,

After driving a Vauxhall Astra diesel for a year I decided to go for something a little on the flip side, so I just picked up one of the 1996 146 1.6s yesterday.

I've only just noticed that the where the air box pipe joins the engine (carb? I'm not so hot with the stuff under the hood) there was no clip and so I could simply remove it with my hand with little effort.. I'm just a bit worried that the engine may have been exposed to the elements, but it seems to drive fine, so do you think this was an issue? I've sorted that out now anyway. Also, there was a second black box, smaller and more square than the air box which seemed to have something to do with the air intake, but it was literally hanging loose again, it wasn't tied down at all. What's its purpose?

Also, my central locking seems to be playing up a lot, sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't..

The car's only done 44K miles in its 14 years, are there any problems I should be watching out for?

Aside from that the engine seems to run ok, occasionally the revs bounce up and down at tick-over when I'm waiting at the lights though it doesn't seem to be much of a problem..

It's a lot of fun, I'm just nervy as hell when buying a car. Thanks for reading! :)
 

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Is it a 1.6 Boxer engine or a 1.6 Twin Spark engine?
 

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Ahhh yes...if I'd actually bothered to look at your profile I would have already seen that yours is a Boxer :D

I'm not really familiar with the Boxer engine so I would recommend you pop over to Alfa145.com where there are a couple of active members with Boxer engines who might be able to help you out with regards to the second black box and your tickover issues. Otherwise try posting in the Alfa 33 section on here because the same boxer engines were also fitted to those cars.

Your central locking issue is most likely to be a dodgy solenoid motor in one of the front doors or a dodgy control unit (found in the fuse box).

If you've now sorted the loose pipe then I wouldn't worry too much unless anything feels obviously wrong or the car is blowing smoke / drinking oil. Someone else recently discovered there was no filter at all in their air filter box when they came to service the car (a TS engined 145) and they had driven it 5,000 miles since they bought the car with no noticeable resulting ill effects.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Thanks for the reply :)

What happens with the locking is that when I turn the key it locks and then unlocks itself. Saying that it does occasionally work but usually i end up locking the car from the inside at the moment.

It seems to be ok on the oil, perhaps a bit heavy on fuel, but that's probably more to do with myself coming from a diesel!

What you say about someone else driving their car with no air filter and it being fine is reassuring!
 

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The missing clip between the air box and the inlet isn't toooo serious. You could have had some grit and dirt getting in there but if your injectors aren't blocked up and you re-fitted the clip then it'll be okay.

The black box is the MAF by the sound of it. It tells the ECU how much air is getting sucked in so it can control the fuel mixture. Again, if it's no longer flapping around then no harm done... though it does have a little sensor on a thin and brittle wire which hangs out in the breeze.. It sits behind the throttle flap but it can be broken if you shove a rag in there too roughly.. so be careful.

The erratic tickover is probably the lambda sensor. You can get new ones on eBay for £25 (for a splice-in job) or £50 for one with a plug pre-attached. Paying £25 for a plug sounds a bit dear but the wiring on these is one-piece so you don't have to join the sensor wires to the existing wiring. It's more secure and the sensor lasts longer, I've found. Buy the best lambda you can afford (probably NGK or Bosch). New lambo' will make your mpg better too, assuming the thermostat is also good.

I'd be worried a little though because with these sorts of issues the beast obviously didn't get much TLC. First thing I would do is get it properly serviced. Give it some new 10W40 semi synthetic oil .. my tip is to use the Halfords stuff for diesels (gold can) as it contains some detergents which will clean up any sludge more effectively than regular "for petrol" oil.. and your fella may have missed some changes or had the same oil in it for years, because it wasn't doing the miles.

Use a new oil and air filter and clean out the breather pipe and the oil neck (tends to get carbon build-up).

Also (sorry! :D ) you must change the cam-belt and tensioner unless you definitely know that these were both changed within 3 years/36,000 miles. The Boxer belt is not toooo fragile but again, I'd suspect you could even have the original stuff at that mileage (i.e. 14 years old kit). :D

Tensioner is just as important as the belt... so don't cheapskate it. You got this far! Some might suggest it's also a good time to change the water pump but at your mileage you should be okay. Water pump is driven by the belt so it's sometimes good practice to change it before it wears out.. saves taking the belt off again and all that labour, that's all.

Change the plugs.. yours may be okay.. but it's a *****-fight of a job so may as well do it all at once.. only take them out again in 2 years time, when you fit new plugs! :D

C/L problem.. let me know. Mine's a bit lazy to lock sometimes too.. though my lock feels stiff so I'm guessing the motor just can't trip the lock manually so it unlocks after locking. Maybe an oil-up of the mechanism can help.. but as I say.. I didn't investigate mine yet.

You'll probably have doubled the value of the car by now... but it'll be pretty indestructible after this lot. Just don't skimp or it'll likely be a short holiday romance rather than the love of your life.. :D


Ralf S.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks for that both of you, I changed the oil, oil filter, fuel filter, air filter and spark plugs this weekend. It turned out one of the spark plugs was completely broken so that cylinder hadn't been firing! It's running much smoother now and seems less heavy on the fuel.

I'll be changing the cam-belt and tensioner this weekend. Do you think it's worth removing the bumper to do it?

One other thing, is it worth replacing the stock air-box and filter with a K&N style one or are the performance gains negligible? I have one lying about and it'd take me 2 minutes to fit it if it's worthwhile!

Thanks a lot!
 

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Aye! Good job on the plugs. You can see why nobody touches them ever again! :D I never fit the same plugs on my old 33 (1.7 Boxer donkey) .. it's such a drama to remove them that I always fit new plugs! :D

I don't think there's any mileage in taking the bumper off as the radiator and radiator mount is still in the way.. but it will let a lot more light in, so it may be worth the trouble, so you can see what you're doing.

While you're in there now, I'd also replace the coolant.. but flush the system well.. there's no knowing how old the stuff in there is or what's loitering in the bottom of the radiator. Take the expansion tank off and clean the ****e out of there too.. use limescale remover or Steradent in there. A clean tank helps you keep an eye on what the coolant looks like.

Buy the undiluted stuff rather than the 50% mix.. Mix it 50:50 coolant and water.. aye! .. but when you top the beast up, use neat coolant. The stuff has ethylene glycol in there (don't drink it, blow in it or get any anywhere near your mouth.. it'll turn your brain to glue :D) so it evaporates out of the water gradually and the coolant loses its strength. Topping up with neat stuff keeps the concentration up.

Coolant stops the engine corroding.. not just the block but the water pipes and head gasket, as well as lubing and protecting the water pump and thermostat so for a few quid every 2 years, it's worth looking after it.


Ralf S.
 
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