Author Topic: New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.  (Read 16025 times)

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Tazor

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New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.
« on: March 17, 2013, 12:52:38 PM »
Hi everyone, I thought it would be a good idea me to sign up here and get into the community as a future Alfa owner. I'm 20, and just got my P's (I was a bit slow) and am approaching my first car purchase. I've got about $11,000 to spend and my current interest is a 2005 156 JTS selespeed to.

I guess I just need to hear from the people who know Alfa's best on whether this is the right choice. Personally I think of cars as more than just transport, as I'm sure is the case with other people here, and as it is a passion to me I wanted the kind of car that reflects that. So naturally I decided upon an Alfa.

What problems and running costs can I expect, who are the best people to know as an Alfa driver?

Anything you guys can say or advise would be great.

Cheers

Tazor

Evan Bottcher

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Re: New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.
« Reply #1 on: March 17, 2013, 01:14:51 PM »
Welcome Tazor,

The Selespeed gearbox is a great thing, but can be temperamental.  Most independant Alfa workshops (e.g. check out our club sponsors) have the experience to fix the selespeed at a reasonable price, but it will almost certainly let you down at some stage.  I'd personally give it a miss (especially when I think about what I was like at 20, I'd barely get my Alfasud serviced much less want to pay for more serious repairs).

The 156 is a great car, I'd just consider getting a manual instead.

Running costs - imagine you'd got yourself a decent 156 manual, then servicing costs are pretty reasonable at an independent specialist.  At a fairly frequent interval (60,000km or three years) you MUST get the timing belt replaced - others will advise the cost.  This one can't be skipped or deferred or you run a big risk of the belt breaking and bending valves and it will be a very expensive repair bill indeed.  Otherwise common things we see or hear about are thermostats and crank sensors that cause problems on these cars but not dramatically expensive to fix if they come up.

The best people to know are a good Alfa independent mechanic - depending on where you live we can recommend you a club sponsor in your direction.  The club sponsors are experienced and well equipped, with the factory computer system required to diagnose and fix issues.

156 and 147 four cylinder cars seem like an ideal option for a special first car now - good choice!
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Tazor

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Re: New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.
« Reply #2 on: March 17, 2013, 01:22:39 PM »
Welcome Tazor,

The Selespeed gearbox is a great thing, but can be temperamental.  Most independant Alfa workshops (e.g. check out our club sponsors) have the experience to fix the selespeed at a reasonable price, but it will almost certainly let you down at some stage.  I'd personally give it a miss (especially when I think about what I was like at 20, I'd barely get my Alfasud serviced much less want to pay for more serious repairs).

The 156 is a great car, I'd just consider getting a manual instead.

Running costs - imagine you'd got yourself a decent 156 manual, then servicing costs are pretty reasonable at an independent specialist.  At a fairly frequent interval (60,000km or three years) you MUST get the timing belt replaced - others will advise the cost.  This one can't be skipped or deferred or you run a big risk of the belt breaking and bending valves and it will be a very expensive repair bill indeed.  Otherwise common things we see or hear about are thermostats and crank sensors that cause problems on these cars but not dramatically expensive to fix if they come up.

The best people to know are a good Alfa independent mechanic - depending on where you live we can recommend you a club sponsor in your direction.  The club sponsors are experienced and well equipped, with the factory computer system required to diagnose and fix issues.

156 and 147 four cylinder cars seem like an ideal option for a special first car now - good choice!
Thanks for the reply Evan!

How much does the selespeed cost to repair on average, and are there any ways to keep it maintained myself?

Also I live in Eltham, 3095 for location.

Thanks again!

Tazor

colcol

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Re: New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.
« Reply #3 on: March 17, 2013, 09:13:15 PM »
The Selespeed should be serviced once a year, this will help it stop you getting stranded when it senses a problem and to avoid any damage it just shuts down, the nearest place to you to get it serviced from Eltham would be Maranello Pursang Motors, 33 Colebrook Street, Brunswick, also you could try Monza Motors, Malvern Street Bayswater or Maceuri Motors in Clayton, Alfa Romeo optimisticly said on the release of the 156 series, that the belt change was 4 years or 60,000 klms, or whatever came first, then a string of cambelt failures made them reduce it to 3 years or 50,000 klms or whatever comes first, and every second cam belt change, put in a new water pump, Colin.
1974 VW Passat [ist car] 1984 Alfa 33TI [daily driver] 2002 Alfa 156 JTS [daily driver]

Meng

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Re: New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2013, 01:50:11 AM »
If you want an auto then this is your best bet

http://www.carsales.com.au/private/details/alfa-romeo-156-2005-14312402?base=1216&vertical=Car&cr=1&eapi=2&__N=1246 1252 1247 1282 1216&num=15&silo=Stock&items=[Make:ALFA ROMEO,Model:156,BaseEnabledBadge:V6]&sort=Year

Or

http://www.carsales.com.au/private/details/alfa-romeo-156-2005-13615443?base=1216&vertical=Car&cr=0&eapi=2&__N=1246 1252 1247 1282 1216&num=15&silo=Stock&items=[Make:ALFA ROMEO,Model:156,BaseEnabledBadge:V6]&sort=Year

Alfa Romeo 156 GTA 3.2 V6

AR753.0ltr

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Re: New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2013, 08:47:38 AM »
Hey Tazor,

If you're looking for an Alfa mechanic near you there's Northern Alfa. His Name is Vince and has been working on Alfa's and Fiat's since he started his apprenticeship 20 years ago. His number is 0417 105 102. He's a top bloke and a real genuine mechanic.

Also if you're still keen on a selespeed, like a few have said, as long as the car is maintained and serviced regularly and the selespeed is calibrated, then you shouldn't have any issues with it. Obviously once the km's start to rise, the problems would be from wear and tear as anything else would be from driving the car. Like it has been mentioned you'll need to do the timing belt around every 50,000km or 3 years to be safe, i wouldn't risk waiting until 60,000km, heard too many horror stories. One guy bought a 156 with 116,000km and wanted to wait until 120,000km but while stopped at a set of lights, the engine stopped. His cambelt snapped, to fix the car it ended up costing him a few thousand $$, he was kicking himself for not doing it when he bought the car like everyone had told him. That's why if you do a search online everyone stresses the point in getting the cambelt changed as a must. Also with a JTS you'll just have to monitor the oil level a lot more than a TS or a V6 due to the direct injection engine, but other than that as long as you service it and change the oil every 7,500km on the JTS you'll be fine. I know the book may say longer, but again due to the direct injection system the oil gets contaminated a lot quicker than a TS or V6.

There's an Alfa Romeo spare parts place in Melbourne called Italian Automotive Spares, they're located in Brunswick and they have a whole range of new parts in stock, so if you get stuck they're only a phone call away. Also 1 of the guys there is an Auto Electrician and he's been rebuilding both the selespeed pumps and the actuators for years and knows the system inside out.

Overall if you're budget is $11,000 just make sure you buy the best condition car you can for that money and also leave some spare to do a service and cambelt once you get it. At least in your mind you know you've done it and won't have any issues a few months into ownership.

Hope the quick run down and everyone elses input helps with making a decision on which model you want to purchase. Also once you get it join the club and support all the local guys, mechanics/spare parts guys, cause if we don't there won't be anyone that will help with you car left and then you'll be stuck bring it to a Kmart Tyre & Auto service centre and they'll do more damage to the car than good.



Evan Bottcher

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Re: New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2013, 09:56:07 AM »
Also once you get it join the club and support all the local guys, mechanics/spare parts guys, cause if we don't there won't be anyone that will help with you car left and then you'll be stuck bring it to a Kmart Tyre & Auto service centre and they'll do more damage to the car than good.

+100.  Very well put.
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Evan Bottcher

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Re: New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2013, 10:04:58 AM »
How much does the selespeed cost to repair on average, and are there any ways to keep it maintained myself?

I couldn't say an 'average' - there seems to be a few different failure modes, from solenoids and switches to the pressure accumulator, to the hydraulic pump.  When the cars were first sold the dealers had no choice but to replace the entire selespeed system (multiple thousand dollars) but now I believe parts are independently replaceable.  Others know a lot more about this area than I do - but it's worth research.

To do work yourself you'll need to buy a computer cable and one of the programs that allow you to connect to the ECU and diagnose faults, and execute the selespeed calibration (or clutch bleeding routines etc.).  I used to muck around with Alfadiag, but it seems that FiatECUScan is the most popular now: http://www.multiecuscan.net/
« Last Edit: March 18, 2013, 10:17:55 AM by Evan Bottcher »
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Meng

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Re: New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.
« Reply #8 on: March 18, 2013, 10:09:04 AM »
As already mentioned, the key is to buy the best example you can with a meticulous Alfa mechanic service history, as the unit requires a yearly clutch rod adjustment and EOL calibration.  Preferably get a later model, as these tend to have ironed out most of the issues associated with earlier selespeed trannys.  Having previously owned one (albeit the 159 selespeed) they can be bucketloads of fun in track, but regular upkeep is mandatory to it lasting a long and hopefully trouble free life.
Alfa Romeo 156 GTA 3.2 V6

Tazor

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Re: New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.
« Reply #9 on: March 18, 2013, 11:09:32 AM »
Thanks everyone for the helpful replies, if I can find a v6 monza in my price range when I buy then that'll be better than the ti. I will definitely get the timing belt changed and the car serviced at an Alfa mechanic as soon as I get it. Also those cars that were linked look awesome, the 15k one looks worth driving to SA to pickup, and awesome color combo.

Evan Bottcher

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Re: New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.
« Reply #10 on: March 18, 2013, 12:03:29 PM »
Now you're talking.  I've driven a 156 v6 Auto a few times and it's fantastic - the auto is great (for an auto) and sounds like it's pretty trouble-free, built by Aisin.  The v6 is of course amongst the best engines ever built, sounds fantastic, and works really well with the auto.
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Tazor

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Re: New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.
« Reply #11 on: March 18, 2013, 03:33:25 PM »
Now you're talking.  I've driven a 156 v6 Auto a few times and it's fantastic - the auto is great (for an auto) and sounds like it's pretty trouble-free, built by Aisin.  The v6 is of course amongst the best engines ever built, sounds fantastic, and works really well with the auto.
See obviously I want the V6 as my first preference, but I love the TI interior!

Out of curiosity how much would it cost to get the car official Alfa Red?

Sheldon McIntosh

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Re: New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.
« Reply #12 on: March 18, 2013, 03:44:52 PM »
Well if you want a V6, you could get a 156, and look forward to reasonable depreciation during the time of your ownership.  Or, for 11k, you could get one of these...  http://www.carsales.com.au/private/details/alfa-romeo-alfetta-1985-14495588 ....., enjoy a far more entertaining drive, be safe in the knowledge that you own one of the classic Alfas of modern times, and be assured that your car will not lose any value.  I reckon within 2 years 156GTAs will be approaching 10k, normal V6s will be around 3-4, and 2.0 selespeeds about $500.  GTV6s, and indeed 75s (3.0 and twinsparks) are already on their way up.

A GTV6, if it's been looked after well, (and realistically, any of them available for around 10k will be in very good condition), will be as reliable as a 156 for similar money.  The same caveats apply to these cars, belts need to be changed at regular intervals, and there are other consumables which will need to be changed occasionally.  Get in the club, talk to the regulars and to the service providers, and all of these will become clear.  Even better, buy one from a club-member, as the best cars usually just get sold within the club before going on the market.

On a twisty road, the 156 might be slightly faster, but the GTV6 will be a lot more fun, will sound far better doing it, and will look a thousand times better as well.  I honestly think that maintenance costs would be similar, if not less for the GTV6.  Of course, the air-con is shithouse, if not non-existent, but hey.....

Just putting it out there, your post topic is "Opinions on first car".....

Mika

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Re: New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.
« Reply #13 on: March 18, 2013, 09:17:22 PM »
Dera Tazor,

Can you drive a manual, if so please consider this :

http://www.alfaclubvic.org.au/forum/index.php?action=post;topic=10421.0;last_msg=64433

It is my car, it has the 3.0 L V6, it is a lot of fun to drive and it is reliable and you get to save a lot of your cash.

If you are interested i am just in Mont Albert

Cheers,

Mike

Evan Bottcher

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Re: New Alfa driver, opinions on first car.
« Reply #14 on: March 18, 2013, 11:10:34 PM »
I think this is the post you're talking about Mika?
http://www.alfaclubvic.org.au/forum/index.php?topic=9972.msg61685#msg61685
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