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Regional Representative, For United Arab Emirates
1991 Spider Veloce S4, 2003 156 GTA, Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari
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Discussion Starter #1
Good afternoon all.

I'd like to ask a couple of questions please as I have just picked up a 1991 S4 Spider, US Spec that is Auto with A/C. The car is a Jap import and I have all the history and owners details translated to English, before I bought the car.


  1. On entering my multi-storey carpark at home, the car was quite sluggish climbing the ramp, a steep-ish ramp between floors in the carpark. I have the accelerator to the floor to get it to climb.
  2. I've noticed there doesn't seem to be a 'kick-down' with the auto-box, is this correct? I know the car is more of a cruiser but thought I'd ask.
Any recommendations, would be welcome. The car is low mileage, 39k kms only and is immaculate.

Thank you for your help,
 

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I had a similar car for a few years, a Japanese automatic, US Spec. Mine was very far from immaculate and I spent a lot of time and money getting to a decent state! Sounds like you bought a much better one.

It should definitely kick down. There are only three gears, as you know, so kick down from second to first is a big jump and the engine will be revving quite high. It will then easily climb slopes so something sounds not right.

If the kick down cable is not working it may be because it needs adjusting, or it may be broken. On mine I had to get a new one made (using the old one as a model) by Speedy Cables in the UK.
 

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Regional Representative, For United Arab Emirates
1991 Spider Veloce S4, 2003 156 GTA, Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari
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421 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Oh OK thank you for the reply that's much appreciated. I will book the car in to have the cable checked

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Regional Representative, For United Arab Emirates
1991 Spider Veloce S4, 2003 156 GTA, Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari
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421 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
You can also change manually, using the lever. Does that engage low gear?
Yes the gear selector enables me to select lower gear. Thank you.
 

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You're welcome

By the way, I notice you are in UAE. Don't expect too much from the A/C, it was fine for me in the UK but the US guys in Texas , for example, don't rate it!.

You will find more information and discussion on the Alfa Bulletin Board as the automatics were never sold in Europe, but feel free to ask me as well, I had to learn a lot about the automatic versions whilst I had it :rolleyes:
 

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Regional Representative, For United Arab Emirates
1991 Spider Veloce S4, 2003 156 GTA, Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari
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421 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
Yes I am in UAE and the car was sat outside today at the vehicle licensing department from 11am until 2pm in 42 degrees of heat.

When I got into the car the AC didn't really do that much, but the car will be kept in an underground carpark at home and work, so hopefully it shouldn't be too bad.

Winter will be the best time here for the Spider

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if you had the pedal to the floor to climb a ramp in a multi storey, then there is something else wrong if you ask me....you shouldn't really need kickdown to get into a garage unless you're in a real hurry!;)
Is it otherwise sluggish just driving through town?
 

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Regional Representative, For United Arab Emirates
1991 Spider Veloce S4, 2003 156 GTA, Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari
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421 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
if you had the pedal to the floor to climb a ramp in a multi storey, then there is something else wrong if you ask me....you shouldn't really need kickdown to get into a garage unless you're in a real hurry!;)
Is it otherwise sluggish just driving through town?
Sorry, I didnt need kick down in garage but outside I tried it. I'm the garage I needed to push pedal to floor to get up the ramp.

I've watched a Wheeler Dealer program on YouTube about the Power Train and a donut Bush and bearing on the propshaft that caused a loss of power and is a fairly simple job. It's fine when I drop down to 1 in auto. It seems very sluggish pulling away generally.

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Regional Representative, For United Arab Emirates
1991 Spider Veloce S4, 2003 156 GTA, Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari
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421 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
It's nippy but sluggish pulling away and going up the ramp and the rear end seems a little wobbly when go over a speed hump.

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Hi, my 93 Spider was an auto and the gearbox was great! Hopefully yours is an easy fix. The rear end on the S4’s could be stiffened up, I never did it but it’s a known issue. Congrats on your purchase. I’d check out the Alfa BB as AngloSpider has pointed out, that’s where I get all my info.
 

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Regional Representative, For United Arab Emirates
1991 Spider Veloce S4, 2003 156 GTA, Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari
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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you for the advice and info

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I am just wondering if the sluggishness might not be due to low fluid in the transmission.

I once drove a friend's Bristol with a Chrysler torqueflight auto box, and the car would hardly move (and I know the Bristol well with 330 horsepower, and that thing usually shifts!)
I checked the fluid and it was nowhere to be seen...topped it up and the power came right back.
Saved my friend's gearbox too from burning up....he was not checking the oil correctly so always thought it was full!)

So, I'd check the level is good and that the fluid is still clear red in colour, not dirty in any way....lack of fluid will burn the bands and you'll get slippage and cause damage.
perhaps a fluid change and a new filter and gasket might be in order as a precaution, but find a filter and gasket first before undoing it!


filter kit and gasket were available at alfissimo (San Diego, CA) some 6 months ago, but now it seems they don't list it anymore....alfissimo is a member over on BB you could message him direct, his tag is "Alfissimo Int"
a good ATF fluid for these boxes is Castrol Transmax

Trans.jpg

trans2.jpg
 

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Regional Representative, For United Arab Emirates
1991 Spider Veloce S4, 2003 156 GTA, Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari
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421 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Thank you, I will try this today and see. It does feel like a slippage actually too. The car is booked into the Dealer on Tuesday next week, for an 'official' baseline check on a few things, this included.
 

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Regional Representative, For United Arab Emirates
1991 Spider Veloce S4, 2003 156 GTA, Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari
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421 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
I followed the instructions and it seemed OK, but the fluid did seem a bit too black??



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You have to change it...
Auto gearbox oil should be spotlessly clean, always!
Try get a filter and gasket first.
A real professional oil change is quite complicated , a normal change by dropping the sump pan is easy
 

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Regional Representative, For United Arab Emirates
1991 Spider Veloce S4, 2003 156 GTA, Abarth 695 Tributo Ferrari
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421 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
OK, I have it booked in at the dealer on Tuesday to try and resolve a few niggles, this included. So let's see.

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I've watched a Wheeler Dealer program on YouTube about the Power Train and a donut Bush and bearing on the propshaft that caused a loss of power and is a fairly simple job
I watched that too, and picked up a few things he did that were plain wrong!

The donut is different to the manual car (8 holes, not 6). They were hard to find but Alfaholics (and maybe others) list them Montreal & Series 4 Spider Automatic Propshaft Coupling £120 versus £28 for the manual car version!

Maybe have a look at the transmission oil again before getting too worried. I thought mine was black then realised it looked black because the dipstick is.......black! When I dripped some off onto a white background it looked fine.

Your car should be pretty lively from start, not sluggish. They do feel a bit sluggish in higher gears (2 and 3) because they are long gears, so its harder to keep the revs up than in a manual 5 speed.
 
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