Exhaust smell inside a '91 Spider - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-01-2017, 06:16 PM Thread Starter
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Red face Exhaust smell inside a '91 Spider

As the title says, I'm getting a fairly strong smell of exhaust in the cockpit of my '91. It's pretty bad all the time with exception of when the top is up and the windows are closed. I've been advised by my mechanic that the 1-4 exhaust manifold is cracked but that once it warms up, the crack closes. He's also pointed out that it needs a manifold gasket. He also suggested that it's more or less natural that you smell the exhaust while driving, especially with the top down. Besides the discomfort, surely it can't be healthy. I'm not disparaging his expertise and advice but IS this sort of thing actually to be expected? I drove a '61 Spider while in college (in the 60's) and, though that was a long time ago, I don't recall smelling exhaust every time I drove the car.

Could the cracked manifold, perhaps in combination with a worn gasket be causing the problem or is there something we're overlooking?

Also, regardless, I could surely find a good manifold on AlfaBB, yes?

Thanks - I appreciate your help. J. Lowden
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post #2 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-01-2017, 06:37 PM
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Originally Posted by rjlowden View Post
Could the cracked manifold, perhaps in combination with a worn gasket be causing the problem or is there something we're overlooking?
Both could, yes. Exhaust smell while driving is not normal. That cracked manifold can also mess up your oxygen sensor readings which will cause rich running, which isn't good.

1-4 cracked manifold was a common problem. The later S4 cars had a piece retrofitted at the bottom of the cast iron manifolds (#1 in the picture below) to link the 1-4 and 2-3 manifolds together and help prevent cracks. The fix is documented in TSB 09.91.02

Alfa Parts Exchange in Tracy may have a used manifold, and they may even have the additional bracket.
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Tom

1963 Giulia Spider (1750 engine)
1974 GTV
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Former: 1987 Milano Gold
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post #3 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-01-2017, 06:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, Tom, for your quick reply and knowledge. I, of course, knew that neither Alfa nor drivers would ever accept a smelly car as normal. I'm in southern New Jersey. How do I get in touch with the Alfa Parts Exchange? Is Tracy the location?
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post #4 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-01-2017, 06:51 PM
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Here you go: Alfa Parts Exchange - Used Alfa Romeo Parts

Tom

1963 Giulia Spider (1750 engine)
1974 GTV
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Former: 1987 Milano Gold
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post #5 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-03-2017, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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Tried the Alfa Parts Exchange to no avail. Funny guy...he said that I just had to be less sensitive. Still, I'd like to find a way to lessen the odor. I'll keep looking but are any of the available aftermarket manifolds viable? My mechanic tells me that those made of steel can't take the heat. There must be a 21st century solution.
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post #6 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-03-2017, 06:40 PM
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How was the alleged manifold crack diagnosed? Is it loud when cool and quiets down when warmed up? Is the mechanic willing to change the manifold gasket? (and how was that diagnosed?) How is the rest of the exhaust system?

Does the tailpipe end behind or in front of the rear bumper? You could try a simple slip-on exhaust tip extension - on the earlier Spiders a too short exhaust exit will allow exhaust fumes to get sucked into a low pressure area in back of the car. A longer exhaust pipe or a turn down tip will often alleviate that.

- - Eric
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post #7 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-03-2017, 07:14 PM
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I have a 1991 Spider and DO NOT have exhaust fumes coming into the cabin.

However, I did have this issue in the past.

The nuts on the exhaust manifold were loose. A good tightening and no more fumes.

Have you tried to tighten them up first?

Hope its as easy as that.

Good luck,

Vin

1991 Spider Veloce - Red on Tan - Rosa Bionda
1987 Spider Quadrifoglio - Red on Grey - Rosa - Sold
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post #8 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-03-2017, 07:26 PM
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RJ, Take it to Midas or another muffler place. Whenever I had issues they did repairs cheap , cheaper if CASH and had everything there to fix anything...

Where in Nj are you? I'm in Deptford BTW..

rob

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post #9 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-03-2017, 08:23 PM Thread Starter
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Hey, thanks for the interest and help. Hope I can do the same someday for others.

Since I bought it, I've had the car in the shop twice, initially to diagnose a noise coming from the engine - a metallic "tap, tap, tap." The noise sounded like a valve shim to me but I only thought that because I heard a similar sound on a YouTube video when a guy, rebuilding the same engine, tapped one of the shims in his collection as he was trying to find the one he needed. Same kind of "ringing" sound. However, after examination by my mechanic I was told that the sound disappeared when the manifold bolts were tightened. It seemed to subside for a while but eventually returned. I called him and he told me that it probably did need a new gasket. So over the winter I made an appointment to have the gasket replaced. Oh, and about that time it seemed to me that I was smelling fairly strong exhaust in the cabin.

I took the car back that second time to have the gasket replaced - both to cure the smell AND the noise (just a week or so ago). That's when he found the crack in the manifold. He would have liked to replace it but couldn't find another 1-4 manifold anywhere. Evidently, they ARE hard to come by. He also said that it might not be worth worrying about since the crack closes up after it warms up. Again, "it's an old car" and "you should be less sensitive..." kind of thing. The gasket was not replaced. It still smells and rattles worse than ever. Oh, it's an Ansa system with one straight pipe, just like all the Spider pics on Google.

I'm in Marlton.
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post #10 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-03-2017, 09:14 PM
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I bet you have steel nuts on the manifold. They will loosen up over time from the heat cycles.

The proper nuts are brass. Once you tighten them they'll stay tight. I bet that'll solve the gasket leak.

https://centerlinealfa.com/catalog/e...nut-4-cylinder

Tom

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Former: 1987 Milano Gold
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post #11 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 04:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gubi View Post
I bet you have steel nuts on the manifold. They will loosen up over time from the heat cycles.

The proper nuts are brass. Once you tighten them they'll stay tight. I bet that'll solve the gasket leak.

https://centerlinealfa.com/catalog/e...nut-4-cylinder
+1

Vin

1991 Spider Veloce - Red on Tan - Rosa Bionda
1987 Spider Quadrifoglio - Red on Grey - Rosa - Sold
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post #12 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 05:21 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks, guys. I'll check that but also keep looking for a 1-4.

Jeff
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post #13 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 05:50 AM
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Jeff,

You could run a 'wanted' ad for an exhaust manifold in the ABB classified section, if you haven't already. If you have a cracked manifold and leaking gasket that needs to be fixed. Remember carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless gas that can kill. It would be a good idea to check for and correct any oil leaks in the engine compartment or transmission as oil hitting a hot exhaust will cause it to smoke and enter the cockpit.

There is an exhaust manifold on eBay for an 82-89 spider; I have no idea if it would work on your car -probably not.

Mark
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post #14 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 06:59 AM Thread Starter
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My next step. Of course health concerns are my first concern. Thanks!
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post #15 of 28 (permalink) Old 03-04-2017, 07:24 AM
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I found an exhaust manifold plus a catalytic converter on eBay for $180.00. The eBay item number is 192112481365.
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