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Should I stay clear of the Selespeed?

2123 Views 28 Replies 16 Participants Last post by  Alfa Seltzer
Hi all,

Terrible thing happened the other day. My lovely 156 was written off by some dropkick, and now I'm on the lookout for a replacement 156 or 147. The only thing is all the Alfas in the condition that I want for my price range are all Selespeed.

Is the Selespeed REALLY that bad? Should I stay absolutely clear of the thing?

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the selespeed is not that bad, it only asks for TLC.... a diagnostic program like Multiecuscan and an OBD cable + laptop will keep the selespeed in top condition.
No of course not. But the system needs additional maintenace.
Its worth invesrting in a some cables for the obd and software like fiatmultiscan to ensure you can reset and sort problems if they do arise.
I would avoid it. Anything can go wrong but do many dealers and indeed good specialists have such limited knowledge of the system that a fault can be a nightmare. There are often Selespeed Alfas on eBay cheap with a fault.

Not worth the potential hassle.
Could you not given the fact its just a robotised manual gear box. Remove the selespeed and fit a manual gear stick and cables etc if it was annoying you that much though?

Think people are just scared of it. But I don't believe its any less likely of failure than any other part.

the removal of the selespeed and fitting a manual box is not that easy !!! only a few punters have done this with great difficulty, it also means an other ECU and cabling (the list is endless) ....its a nightmare !!!
Fair point. Just thought about it from another angle thats all.
...fair enough :cool: always check the options ! thats the proper DIY attitude
Is the Selespeed REALLY that bad? Should I stay absolutely clear of the thing?
I joined this forum getting on for 10 years ago, read it for a while then bought my first Alfa, a 156. A Selespeed was never and option, and still wouldn't be.

Even posts by the Selespeed fans makes me wince...

it only asks for TLC.... a diagnostic program like Multiecuscan and an OBD cable + laptop will keep the selespeed in top condition.
...for Pete's sake. Alfas give their owners enough grief wthout heaping more misery on top.

Stick to a manual, mind you, you'll still need a diagnostic program like Multiecuscan and an OBD cable + laptop to keep the car running. :lol:

All the best

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pick up a facelift 156 with Selespeed and you will get a nice flappy paddle play thing and you will enjoy it. Don't be afraid of the selespeed at all.

what you need to remember is that it is a manual gearbox, so has a clutch and everything else just like a normal manual car, however it is computer / hydraulic controlled. thats the only different is the select is hydraulic rather than cable to a stick.

The hydraulics run at a massive pressure, like hundreds of PSI, so over time it will need maintenance but for the most part if you've got things like multiecuscan and cable you can run calibration routines etc and it will keep itself happy.

The most common problem is that it doesnt hold its pressure because the accumulator wears out, which although you can't buy these on their own from Alfa are available through Fiat for not a lot of money and that tends to cure a lot of ills.

Worst scenario is the actuator fails and you have to replace the entire unit, however these days you're as well with a second hand part but they dont fail so often but are expensive.

don't be put off though - they're much fun and not as terrifying as everyone makes out. As you as you've got a local indie garage that knows what they're doing and you can trust then if worst comes to worst and something does go wrong, you know where to turn.
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Think people are just scared of it. But I don't believe its any less likely of failure than any other part.
No, but if it does, there it's a massive lack of indie and dealer support, parts are expensive and the majority aren't very handy with the spanners let alone diagnostics.

If you have a choice, why set yourselves up for a fall?
Only driven one once and as the box only really comes into its own above 4000 rpm could not see the point driving at normal road speeds you are better off using the auto mode but this sort of makes the whole thing a bit pointless.
Just my personal opinion though. Too much risk not enough payback!
110 K miles in my Selespeed, and no trouble at all !! but a good dealer with knowledge of the sele system is essential. I am in a special position with a mechanic brother who knows a lot of Alfa's
and selespeeds, and after studying the Examiner kit and modifying OBD cables (to control ABS and Airbags) I think I can master the sele.... which is proven by the mileage...
If you want trouble free driving, buy a bicycle....
So let me present the experiences of someone who has owned and lived with a TS Selespeed SW for 11 years; I bought it new in 2002. Apart from the standard maintenance costs, cam belt, variator, etc there have been a couple of significant issues;
1. De-selecting 5th gear - when changing up the box into 5th, it would try to engage then drop into neutral (interesting when accelerating up to motorway speeds). I researched this and other forums and assumed Selespeed fault, but nothing showed on AlfaDiag; swapped position sensors anyway and adjusted clutch push rod, no change; took end plate off gearbox to check selector fork and synchro hub to find the nut on the main-shaft was loose and the sunchro sleeve was chewed up. Replaced sleeve and nut, torqued up properly, problem fixed. It wasn't a Selespeed fault, it was a mechanical gearbox fault that could just as easily have affected a manual box.
2. On another occasion all electrics began failing, no speedo, engine temp going up, gearbox won't change gear. End up sat on the side of the M5 stuck in 5th and can't start the engine. The alternator had failed; everything, including the throttle is electric, fan, Selespeed hydraulic pump, etc, so when the supply voltage drops things stop working. A recon alternator fixed that; once again not a Selespeed fault, could happen on any modern ECU controlled car.

So my personal experience of the Selespeed is good, but I would echo some others concerns around the availability of skilled or knowledgeable mechanics; the dealers are a waste of space and good indies who know the Selespeed are scarce. So its either learn it yourself, many owners have, or locate a good indie. If you are anywhere near Oxfordshire there is an ex forum member well known for his Selespeed knowledge (if not for his tact).

From what I can gather, early Selespeeds were trouble prone, later ones were better. I don't know when the change happened but I believe at least some of the problems can be put down to clueless dealers service departments.

Most of the issues I read about others having can probably be traced using a proper diagnostic approach and a good proportion seem to end up being a gearbox mechanical issue, maybe exacerbated by the Selespeed pushing gear selection hydraulically at around 50BAR.

Because of the rep Selespeeds seem cheaper; I think they're a good punt if you're prepared to DIY, otherwise expect to spend some time opening your wallet.

I wouldn't touch a JTS Selespeed, but that's because of the rep of the JTS, not the Selespeed.

/Soapbox off/
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Just noticed you are in Australia; from previous posts mechanics in Oz would appear to be even more clueless about Selespeeds than those in the UK, but maybe that's because we only get to read about the horror stories. The spares situation for Selespeeds in Oz also seems to be something you should take into account; I've read of a number of instances where it has been cheaper to have the parts shipped from the UK than to pay local prices.
I wouldn't have a selespeed.

The potential for hassle is there, and in my opinion they don't drive as well as a manual.

Try reversing uphill into a tight parking space in one and see how easy it it compared to a car with a proper clutch as there is no creep to stop you rolling in the wrong direction like there is on an Auto.
I had a Sele for 3 years. In that time the Sele box suffered one fault. The motor bushes wore out 90k on the clock. The bill was £400 from an Alfa dealer.

They drive pleasantly, and are more relaxing, especially in traffic where auto mode is really useful.

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I had a 156 selespeed for 9 years, and I had no problems with the selespeed at all and the only maintenance was an oil top up. perhaps I was just very lucky it was great car and a pleasure to drive, but as others have mentioned, I would advise that you are near to a dealer or indie that knows the workings of the selespeed and if you do decide on one to have it checked over 1st. I suppose they are a bit like marmite you love them or hate them! At the end of the day its your decision, but good luck with what ever you decide :)
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