Milano Verde Timing Belt Fall Apart - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-06-2019, 05:12 PM Thread Starter
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Milano Verde Timing Belt Fall Apart

I have been driving my Milano Verde since 1988 and replaced timing belts every 50K miles. I rebuilt the engine at 180K and drove another 70K miles until last week when the timing belt fall apart. The intake valves are all bent and the tappets are damaged. The second intake valve shim was sheered in half! I am going to see if the connecting rods are straight and also look at the rod bearings. I have never seen a belt fall apart. I do not like rubber timing belt engines and will never buy another car with rubber timing belts. I am glad that the engine did not throw a rod.
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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-06-2019, 05:24 PM
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Assuming it was manufactured properly, there are two things that'll make a timing belt fall apart: age and oil exposure. I wouldn't trust the rubber for more than five years max, and preferably shorter (I think I used to do 3 years or 30K on my Milano but don't really remember.)

The oil fed tensioner was a big problem, as it would leak on the belt and then cause belt failure. That was the main reason Alfa switched to the mechanical tensioner. On higher-mileage cars, the cam seals can be problematic too. Anything that gets oil on the belt is going to badly weaken it.
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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-06-2019, 06:57 PM
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So the belt failed at 70K miles. How long were you expecting it to last?
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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-06-2019, 09:33 PM Thread Starter
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I probably had no more than 30K miles on the belt and all of the teeth fell off but, the belt is more than five years old. The engine has used a mechanical 164 tensioner that was replaced when the engine was rebuilt. The car has be driven for 248K miles and has been used for a daily driver for many years. I also have a Milano Silver that I used for more than 70K miles. The two cars have a combined total of more than 320K miles and cannot complain at all. I plan to buy a Giulia QV Coupe but, will settle for a Giulia QV if the coupe is not built. I want the ceramic brakes because the Milano's brakes were not good.
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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-06-2019, 11:14 PM
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Something else failed, seized a camshaft and stripped the teeth off the belt.

Timing belts ARE reliable. I've never had one fail, the only time I've broken a belt was when a camshaft stopped turning first.
Pete
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2019, 03:23 AM
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This story interesting to me. I wonder what caused the failure - belt failure or mechanical part failure in valve train or oil pump?

Please let us know what further investigation of engine components reveals.

Do check oil pump condition for proper operation. Sounds like something seized if timing belt teeth sheared off.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2019, 07:46 AM Thread Starter
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I am going to remove pistons and see if there is any damage. There was no oil on the timing belt and the failure occurred on the freeway at approximately 3,500 RPM. The engine immediately shut down and could hear some noise from the engine. The engine rotates but, there could be damage to the lower half of the engine caused by the intake valves hitting the pistons.

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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2019, 02:34 PM
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I've had valves hit pistons a few times with a Sud race engine. Never damaged the bottom end, and in some casea pistons just needed a little tidy up.

Good luck, hope its not too expensive, and you find the actual cause.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2019, 05:49 PM
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Isn't part of the issue the age of the belt? How hard do you drive? How older than 5 years was it? Just thoughts.
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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2019, 07:43 PM
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The teeth being sheared off is a classic sign of a belt being passed its age limit. Timing belts should be replaced every 3 years or 50,000 miles.

You will probably find almost all the valves bent. Broken intake and shims busted. Broken exhaust cups and rods. But I will bet there is no piston or rod/bearing damage.

I've seen them with broken timing belts that happened when idling to breaking at 80 mph. None suffered any bottom end damage.

Back in the day when these were daily transportation. We recommended belts be changed every 3 years 36,000 miles. In the late 90's as timing belts got better milage increased to 50,000 miles. We never had a customer break their belt if if changed in that time/milage frame.

Anything beyond 3 year/50,000 miles. Your just tempting fate.

The mechanical tensioner that Alfa had the North American and Canada market go to. Is a piece of junk. They should have never done it. The rest of the world did not get it.

By the time Alfa came out with it. All the oil leaks had been cured by the 1989 model year. Except on the 164's when Fiat replaced the exhaust rocker shaft plug with a steel plug instead of an aluminum one Alfa used for a decade. The steel ones pissed oil. Once those where resealed then oil leaks were gone on the 164's.

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post #11 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2019, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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I took both heads apart and found five bent intake valves. The problem with retiring five years ago is driving very little and having three Alfas. I am going to change the timing belt on the other Milano. I am restoring a 1957 Sprint and a 1963 2600 Spider and building two more motors. I guess I should take better care of my cars.
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post #12 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2019, 09:50 PM
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Unless you just wanting to rebuild the motor.

Just take the heads to the machine shop with new guides for the intake and exhaust and the number of bent valves. Have then do a valve job and put them back on. The intake cup/followers and shims are the same as the 4 cylinders. Check your intake followers really well they usually end up having dents or cracks in the tops from the valve impact.

If you didn't break any of the exhaust pieces. The price shouldn't be to bad.

1969 1750 Spider Veloce w/dual webers, 1969 1750 Berlina, 1971 1750 Spider Veloce w/ dual webers, 1985 Spider Veloce 23,000 orig. miles, {Two} 1986 Spider Veloces, 1987 Spider Veloce bought new, 1988 Quadrifoglio, 1991 164S, Plus several more. I think they are breeding.
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post #13 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-07-2019, 10:33 PM Thread Starter
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I already purchased new valves, guides, tappets and removed some guides. I have equipment to grind the seats and the exhaust seats have some pitting. The intake seats look like new and will require very little grinding. I rebuilt my first Alfa engine in the early 1970's and it lasted 100K miles before I had to rebuilt it again. I have rebuild many engines and transmissions and it is one of my hobbies.
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post #14 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-08-2019, 03:24 PM
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While I accept the mileage limit of these rubber belts is 100,000 kms (60,000 miles) I do not accept that you need to replace them every 3 years. Alfa engine's timing belts are just timing belts like every other manufacturer. Honda and Toyotas do 100,000km's no problems. Admittedly when some engines break it is not problem as they are non-interference engines, but ...

I will admit if I owned a 2 valve Busso v6, I would be worried about one of the heads camshafts because Alfa Romeo F'ed up and there is not enough teeth engaging that pulley, but the 24v engine does not have that weak design. With my Sud race engine, I never, ever purchase a new tensioner. I just picked up one of my many that I had and ran it (My Sud was a 1976 model and had done over 100,000 miles before I purchased it ... tensioner bearings were fine). They are just bearings. Everybody uses them and yet for some strange reason, if you are doing a timing belt on an Italian car/engine you have to replace every single component on the timing belt end of the engine, including water pump (even if it is not old) otherwise the engine gods will stuff your timing belt and your will ruin your engine.

Unless Alfa Romeo, Ferrari, etc. specifically said to the bearing manufacturers "we only want cheap and nasty bearings for our engines, so our reputation continues to be poor", there have been many perfectly good tensioner bearings thrown in the bin, along with perfectly good water pumps.

The worry is, you are probably replacing all these original parts with crap that has been made for cheap in China!
Pete

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Last edited by PSk; 09-08-2019 at 03:46 PM.
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post #15 of 18 (permalink) Old 09-09-2019, 07:47 PM Thread Starter
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I never buy any parts made in China for any car including cars that I restore and try to buy original parts if possible. I had problems with the Milano water pump and had it repaired many times under warranty. I finally replace the water pump with one made in Germany and that one did not leak. I could not believe that the original Milano head gasket was the same type as the 2600. When I rebuilt the engine I used the German Reinz head gaskets. I found five bent intake valves and removed the old valve guides. I had a four cylinder valve guide tool and just purchased a Milano valve guide tool because the four cylinder tool does not push the far enough into the head. The intake seats look new and will only have to grind the exhaust seats. I purchased new parts from Centerline Alfa and should finish this week because I am waiting for the valve guide tool.
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