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Discussion Starter #1
A while ago I picked up a non running 156 to use for spares. I assumed it had the usual cambelt fail, but when I went to collect it I found the cambelt was still in one piece. I asked the seller if he'd ever had the cambelt replaced and he told me that he knew it needed doing but that he hadn't got round to it. When I got it home I tried Fiat Ecu Scan and it showed a fault with the crank sensor. So, I decided not to take any parts off it until I had investigated further. This weekend; after it had been sat doing nothing for a couple of months; I decided to get stuck in. Replaced the crank sensor but it still wouldn't fire although sensor fault had gone. I decided to check the timing and found that at TDC the cam locks didn't quite line up with the lobes, although it was only just out. Took the belt off and found 1 tooth completely missing and one hanging on for dear life. Ever the optimist but not wanting to spend any money on it just yet, I replaced the belt with another good one I had knocking around. Put it all back together and fired her up. I was amazed when the engine started first time and revved sweetly although a little "tappety". The smile on my face was short lived as a few seconds later the engine stopped and refused to start again. When I tried to remove the spark plug from no. 1 cylinder to use the DTI it seemed really tight. I had put it back very carefully and knew that I hadn't overtightened it or crossed the threads. Once I had it out, the first thing I saw was that it was mashed. When I looked down the plug hole, the top of the piston didn't look too healthy, so I took the head off and found this:
photo.jpg photo 2.jpg photo 3.jpg

Looks like the original fault had bent a valve and me starting it had caused it to break completely. The combustion chamber in the head is also as damaged as the top of the piston so the engine is now only fit for scrap. I'm not too bothered as I didn't buy the car for the engine. I expected it to be severely damaged when I got it. BUT bear in mind that this was only the result of a broken tooth or two and not from a complete cambelt failure. I see a lot of threads on here with people putting off the cambelt changes for various reasons ( and I admit up until now I might have been tempted to do the same on my other cars ). DON'T DO IT!!! From now on I will be changing cambelts at or before the 36000 mile intervals.

BTW if anyone wants any spares from a 1999 156 in Grigio Africa Met, let me know because once I've had the bits I want, the car is off to the scrappers.
 

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It still amazes me that anyone on this site could still put it off even with all the warnings everyone else gives. Well if thats not enough to make em do it then I don't know what is:rolleyes:

Cool pics though. :D
 
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is there anything that breaks alfa's other that cambelt snapping or loosing teeth. I havnt heard of many other problems. People should maintain their cars properly!!
 

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That is pretty bad, although I reckon with a replacement piston, a secondhand head and some shells that engine could be saved.

I think half the proplem is ignorance to be honest. There must have been loads or people who have only found this site after googling "snapped Alfa cambelt"

I have seen many new posters on here saying help my cambelt has snapped. :(



As a sidenote, I had a look at a Punto HGT on Saturday, it had done 70k and 9 years on the original cambelt.

The belt layout on that engine is identical to the 1.8 TS, and they appear to snap just as often. The owner tried to tell me it wasn't due to be changed yet. :lol:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That is pretty bad, although I reckon with a replacement piston, a secondhand head and some shells that engine could be saved.

I think half the proplem is ignorance to be honest. There must have been loads or people who have only found this site after googling "snapped Alfa cambelt"

I have seen many new posters on here saying help my cambelt has snapped. :(
Symon, you're probably right on both counts. I have considered rebuilding the engine as I already have a spare head and surprisingly the bores don't have any damage. Problem is I have that many Alfa and MGB projects on the go that I just can't be bothered with this one. It was bought as a donor car to start with.

The guy I bought it off wasn't an AO'er until the car stopped running and found this site while trying to find the fault. There must be loads of twinnies out there that are well overdue their belt change because older, less well looked after ones are so cheap for the amount of car you get. I reckon people buy them in ignorance. They think they are getting a bargain and reckon on oil changes, brakes, tyres and the usual stuff but don't know about the relatively short cambelt change intervals. I didn't know anything about Alfas until I started visiting this forum less than a year ago and I've learned loads since but there's still a long way to go :)
 

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On a plus side for alfa I was given a 1990 164 3.0 12v lusso from a neighbour in 2005. It had done 120k and had never had a belt change. The hose had split by the bulk head so it didn't hold any water and when I pulled it apart all that was left of the head gasket wa the metal rings. But it's still ran perfectly and took ages to over heat. Just goes to show how tough the v6 is in comparison.
 

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is the 3 year or 36000 mile interval on a ts so short because alfa decided to play it super cautious after all the failures with the old interval ?
does it mean that it should be ok to go a little bit over ?
im not saying you should ever leave it to be over due but as long as you stick to within the interval does that mean it will be fine, or is there quite a few that go even within the 3 year interval ?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
is the 3 year or 36000 mile interval on a ts so short because alfa decided to play it super cautious after all the failures with the old interval ?
does it mean that it should be ok to go a little bit over ?
im not saying you should ever leave it to be over due but as long as you stick to within the interval does that mean it will be fine, or is there quite a few that go even within the 3 year interval ?
From what I've read on this forum over the last few months, I think Alfa got cautious due to the high failure rate before the old 72000 mile interval. I've not heard of any going before the 3 year / 36000 mile interval (although I'm sure some will have). As I said in my original post, I think a lot of people like to gamble and push their luck. I haven't needed to yet but I'm sure I would have been tempted to push it to say 40000 miles. After seeing the damage that can be caused just by a couple of broken teeth on a belt, then I definitely won't be tempted to risk it when the time comes on any other TS I own.
 

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I don't think it's just ignorance on the part of owners that is at fault though. When I booked my car in for the 3 year service with 35k miles on it at an Alfa dealer I had to ask them to do the cam belt as part of the service. They should have been telling me straight away that it was due. I don't know whether they would have done it if I didnt ask them but it didn't seem like they would. Also after I mentioned changing the timing belt they didn't advise me about the variator or water pump getting done at the same time I had to ask for them to be done as well.
 

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i just dont understand how after going to the effort of changing the interval their dealership staff can just not care enough to let people know. i bought my 156 at 5 years old and it had done almost 48000 miles with no evidence of a belt change so had it done straight away, it seems to have been looked after by the previous owner but i bet they just didnt know about the change
 

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Discussion Starter #11
You would have thought a dealer would have been right on the case, if only for the extra money.
 

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I had to randomly change the belt on the 155 ts due to a leaking water pump a few years back. The old belt had done 12k and had a inch split lengthways down it.:eek: Don't know how it happened but I'm glad that waterpump started leaking when it did. I take the cover off every time I service them now and turn it over to check the belt for signs of damage. Its a bit of a joke really but hey.
 

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Kaston - your observations on the main dealer is bang on - there is nothing wrong with the cars bu dealers just are not bothered - no sense of duty of care at all
 

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In a lot of cases, dealers were giving discounts on cambelt changes because they were needed more often than originally specified.

Maybe they didn't like doing them because they made no money from it.
 

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Happen my 1.6 147 a few months back................i had the belt and kit ordered when it broke..............it was just 500 miles over due:rolleyes:.......................i got a replacement engine and shes running sweet as a nut now:)
 

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Mine has just turned 5 years old with 25k on the clock and needs doing. (1.9JTDM) Where's the best place to get a Cambelt kit from? I've seen some on Ebay and wondered if they were ok?
 

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I always buy genuine alfa when it comes to the belts/tensioners and engine components. Not worth the risk MR
 

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From what I've read on this forum over the last few months, I think Alfa got cautious due to the high failure rate before the old 72000 mile interval.
As I understand it the engines originally had plastic tensioners which were kind to the belt but had a tendency to break up before the 72k mark. They replaced them with metal items which don't break up but are heavier on the belts hence them needing to be replaced more often.
 

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If you've ever watch a ts engine stop with the cover off it roles back slightly loading the tensioner and leaving the belt slightly slack between the exhaust cam and the crank. I recon when you start it whips the belt slightly as it takes up the slack each time. This action repeated can't be good for it IMO
 

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I always buy genuine alfa when it comes to the belts/tensioners and engine components. Not worth the risk MR
No matter which kit you buy, the tesnioners are exactly the same and from the same factory.

I have used Genuine kits, Dayco kits, contitech kits and gates kits, in all cases the tensioners were identical. The metal moving tensioner being stamped "Made in Canada".

To be honest, the standard Alfa belts are not know for long life, so I have no problem with other brands as long as they are a decent make.
 
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