New car time, am i mad wanting an Alfa?

Associate
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Hello motors forum, i'm after some ideas for a new car. I've got around £1-1.3k to spend and looking for something thats not too boring, 5 door and a bit of go in it. I've been looking at cars ranging from golfs to 3 series, and cars that keep coming up for sale that look good for the money are Alfas.
For example i've seen an '04 156, 2ltr jts, 55k for £1300, and a 147 2ltr, 80k for £850, even the 1.6 seem nippy (120bhp). Seems like a lot of car for the money, I know all the horror stories and reliability issues, but have done a fair bit of reading on them and from the sounds of it if they've been looked after and give them some tlc with oil etc then they can be decent. Thing is all cars can have issues, i' ve had a few so called "bullet proof/reliable" cars that died on me.

So am i mad for looking at them and tempting fate for it to fail on me? Anyone with Alfa ownership experience want to offer their thoughts would be appreciated.
 
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Don
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The 147 is more modern as the 156 was out a few years before the 147, if it were me I'd look at a 2ltr petrol manual 147 and not get carried away with the spec but find one with a decent service history and recent cam belt / tensioners.

Things to look for from my experience

Gear lever sticks over and won't return to centre (new cable or lubrication)
Bonnet cable liner is plastic and wears round the bends causing the cable to pinch and not return the bonnet catch
Oil usage is high for no reason and changes from car to car expect 1ltr per 1000 miles, Selenia oil is expensive so look for an owner that knows and has a bottle in the boot
Rear wipers rust and stop working
Headlight bulbs forever going
Drop links are made of cheese
Cam belt changes with tensioner every 36k

It's all minor stuff apart from tensioner but does mean constant home maintenance and care, if that's what you're happy with then go for it, I found my 1.6 147 lovely and always put a smile on my face even sat on the drive.
 
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Cheers for that, i'll keep that in mind when looking. Any other recommendations for this sort of money?
 
Soldato
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Just warn you, ownership can become addictive.

I have had so many Alfa's and not at the moment and I long for another. So as we speak I am looking for the right one which can be the tricky bit with Alfa's.

They need careful, meticulous and often expensive servicing. Make sure you have somebody who can do it in your area as you do not want to pay stealer prices for an old car.
Try to buy a car from somebody who is enthusiastic about them and if possible had them in the past. They tend to know what kind of care and attention to give them.

The ones you are looking at are Twin Spark engines that need their belts changing ever 36-40k. Make sure this is done or you will be paying many hundreds of pounds before you start. You also need to check the oil every week, Twin Sparks are known to use a lot.

Avoid anything that has had a cam belt failure in the past. Even if the head has been replaced many are often sold on cheap because the bottom end usually fails shortly after.

Both 156's and 147's eat front suspensions.

The plus side is they don't appear to rust anymore, electrics now work well and as you said you can get such a lot for your cash.

Their reputation, right or wrong keeps them cheap so long may it continue. ;)
 
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:rolleyes: yes thanks for that, i'm not saying they're the best value for money. Just compared to for example, a 3 series thats done starship miles, or a boring, safe 1.6 focus. Then the alfas seem like a lot of spec/car/value for the intial money, i know after that it could be a money pit.

All i'm asking is for around a grand, is an alfa a mad buy and what would be a decent car for around that money. I've just come from a mk3 mondeo, so looking for sonething a little different.
 
Soldato
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:rolleyes: yes thanks for that, i'm not saying they're the best value for money. Just compared to for example, a 3 series thats done starship miles, or a boring, safe 1.6 focus. Then the alfas seem like a lot of spec/car/value for the intial money, i know after that it could be a money pit.

All i'm asking is for around a grand, is an alfa a mad buy and what would be a decent car for around that money. I've just come from a mk3 mondeo, so looking for sonething a little different.


I would go for a 156. You may even be lucky and pick up a JTS 2.0 for just over a grand. The JTS had 165bhp and felt to me a lot quicker than my previous Twin Sparks.

Lots available around that price and if you pick carefully you could end up with a little gem, also remember like anything at that price there is a lot of rubbish about.

just a 1 minute look found this 2002 model.

http://www.autotrader.co.uk/classif...l/radius/60/page/2/quicksearch/true?logcode=p
 
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Soldato
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You're not mad.

Mine's ('03 156 GTA) has been super reliable in the 2 years i've had it, and judging by it's service history nothing much untoward happened to it in the previous 6 years. Regular servicing is key here.

Echo the sentiment though about front suspensions, i've replaced both upper/lower wishbones and droplinks on it, as well as replacing the Anti-Roll bar bushes, as they do have a tendency of clonking/creaking. Replaced after 7 years, roughly 45k miles, probably 25% smooth EU motorways and 75% awful Gibraltar "roads".

Engine/electics/interior durability/rust/paint fade <- No problems here. Must have been a good one :)
 
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Soldato
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I've owned several alfas from new and the only issues I have had were minor electrical niggles that were down to faulty connectors. Other than that they were reliable and fun to drive. For the money, you won't get an awful lot more car, and in that price bracket, everything is pot luck for reliability.
 
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I've heard ownership can be addicitve :D a friend has a 2.5 V6 166 and loves it to bits, had about 4 years now only thing he has changed has been usual consumables like brakes, tyres etc.

Thanks for the link Third Opinion, trying to keep around Sheffield atm as i'm limited how far i can travel as no other transport, other than the odd weekend when my bro can take me lol. Just so many conflicting opinions on Alfas, but i've always liked the style of both the 156 & 147. I'll keep looking as my other cars i've seen are a 3 series and a bora, bit of a difference i know ;)
 
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Don
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Don't get too hung up on specification leather alloys etc, alternative interiors and wheels are 10 a penny on eBay etc, are a doddle to retrofit and cheap.
 
Soldato
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I've heard ownership can be addicitve :D a friend has a 2.5 V6 166 and loves it to bits, had about 4 years now only thing he has changed has been usual consumables like brakes, tyres etc.

Thanks for the link Third Opinion, trying to keep around Sheffield atm as i'm limited how far i can travel as no other transport, other than the odd weekend when my bro can take me lol. Just so many conflicting opinions on Alfas, but i've always liked the style of both the 156 & 147. I'll keep looking as my other cars i've seen are a 3 series and a bora, bit of a difference i know ;)

Yeah sorry was just showing what a 1 minute search on the trader can bring up. That one is by no means unique. In fact I think you could do better.

You appear to be going into it with your eyes open. As I say the thing that I worry about most is the belts. The rest is really just wear and tear, Mondeos are heavy on front suspension.

They are not bullet proof and are by no way anywhere near BMW quality.

My friend who is an Alfa engineer puts them at the same quality and reliability as a Vectra. The 156 got a bad reputation because it initially found itself it the hands of reps. They didn't care for them much, so they didn't check the oil and leasing companies wanted Alfa to set the belt change at 72k to save them money. Like the Vectra belts failed and they got the reputation.

The only problem is repairing and servicing a 156 is quite a bit higher than a Vectra.
 
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Yeah i've done a fair bit of reading up and know the belts need changing every 36k, the wishbones are prone to going etc. Every car has common faults, had my fair share when i had a Leon Cupra and with the Mondeo. I have heard servicing can be expensive, how much are we roughly talking? though there are a couple of alfa specialists near me so got options i suppose.

Tbh the last 3 cars i've had (bmw, leon, mondeo) lasted a year or so before they died, and had many niggles with them before they did. Whether bad luck or just me i'm not sure, so wondering whether an "unreliable" make of car may work out this time lol. Or not, we'll see.
 
Soldato
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Well this site unusually advertises it's prices which I regard as about average.

http://www.autolusso.co.uk/

I say get the 156 as it had been about a bit and a lot of niggles ironed out. The 147's in your price will be the beginning of the model so are bound to be more problematic. I would rather buy a late car model than an early.

The Selespeed is a great drive but best avoided as it can go expensively wrong. 1.6-1.8 Twin Sparks have no balancer shafts which makes the car a bit more unrefined but many prefer them and they are cheaper and less likely to throw belts.

Check it Alfaowner site for more technical info.
 
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One quick & easy thing to check if you ever get an Alfa with the direct ignition Bosch coil packs, which are located on top of each of the spark plugs:

If you peer down into the end of the rubber cap, you'll see a brass coloured spring. You can (carefully) peel the rubber cap off from the main body of the coil,
and you'll see this spring is just a go-between from the top of the spark plug to a small metallic contact on the end of the coil (which is also brass coloured).
Give the contact, the spring & the screw-on spark plug top a good clean with emery cloth.

I did this just before it got dark yesterday & it has made my car's throttle response ever so crisp & smoothed out the idle a bit - not that it was bad in the first place,
it's just silky compared to being a tiny bit lumpy. Certainly well worth the 20 min's or so to pull the plastic cover off and take a peek.

Also, no matter what Alfa you have, make sure the battery is in good condition. Also check the connections at the terminals are tight/clean and that the earth strap
to chassis & the engine/gearbox earth are spotless, they can apparently be very temperamental towards even a slightly low system voltage.
 
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Associate
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Cool thanks for all the info guys, much appreciated. I did see a nice 156 for sale, but unfortunately it went this morning, but am looking at this 147.

[URL="http:// http://autotrader.mobi/used-cars/advert/201211234361772/viewing-2/0?PHPSESSID=n7juok5dunklrj5uviahl78nr4[/URL]

I know doesn't mention cambelt but i'm gonna check on that, but seems decent. I'm not expecting a mint car in this price range, but should be some decent ones out there.
 
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Soldato
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I had a 156 V6 for a few years and it was a lovely car. I did all my own servicing and it never let me down once. Had good traction in the snow too.
 
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What are the 1.6 engines like, power & economy wise? i know they'll not be the quickest things but 120bhp doesn't seem bad compared to most standard 1.6 cars out there.
 
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