Alfa Romeo Forums banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
HI all,
We just drove our NEW 1991 Spider Veloce home to Vancouver, Canada from the SF Bay area. It ran GREAT - 80 mph the whole way (shhh!)!! We had it inspected prior to buying and felt fairly good with the 118 K mile engine.
After getting the shaft - ie, paid alot for nothing - from our local mechanic, we took the car to an Alfa mechanic, where he showed us the common probs of all of these cars. He spent about an hour with us, showing us everything on the hoist, then he lowered the car, and popped the hood, and went directly to the coolant overflow reservoir, where he popped the top, and said, 'o o'. My heart sank. YES, oil in the reservoir. I said, 'head gasket?'. He said yes, but go drive it until it starts to overheat, then deal with it.
Now, if one was going to take the head off, you may as well rebuild the whole engine right? And if you are doing the engine, you may as well do the tranny and clutch, right?
I would be interested to know how some of the more experienced peeps on the board, would address this issue. Please advise.
Of course, my Alfa guy said he would do the whole thing for 12 K. My heart is still sinking.... :eek:

Thanks for the help....and ANY other tips you want to throw my way!
Kerry
 

·
But Mad North-Northwest
Joined
·
10,082 Posts
Now, if one was going to take the head off, you may as well rebuild the whole engine right? And if you are doing the engine, you may as well do the tranny and clutch, right?
Not at all - head gasket isn't an engine-out job. I think it cost me $800 (at Bay Area prices) on my '91. No need to do a full rebuild or the tranny at the same time unless they're needed.

The might-as-wells while you have the head off at 118K are probably valve seats and guides, I would think.

12K? You could nearly buy the world's nicest '91 Spider for that!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,724 Posts
By all means listen to Tom, when my head gaskets on my 164's went bad and if I thought of a total engine & drive line rebuild I'd have shot myself. A head rebuild is not that bad a job, watch the engine temp and just think about getting it done in the near future. Heck even if you cook the head it doesn't mean a full engine rebuild.
 

·
But Mad North-Northwest
Joined
·
10,082 Posts
Love the '91 man. They'll have to bury me in it. It's nowhere near as good a car as the Milano, but it's way more fun to drive.

'course, I spent the first two years of ownership working out the kinks, but that's Alfas for you. It's pretty solid now.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
182 Posts
i have a 74 alfa, 2000 . i bent the valves in my head last summer. i just got the head redone, cost me 310.00 for the machinist to but it together, i bought all the parts then IAP , i am at the pint where being i have a new head now that am going to remove the block and get new rings ect, and also new clutch and ect. i mean i went this far might as well go all the way
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
181 Posts
I agree with Richard. I would start with having the mechanic flush out the radiator, re-torque the head and wait 500-1000 miles and do a test to see if you are still getting oil in the coolant.

I had the same problem with my '92 (with only 48k). I ultimately did have the the head gasket redone and while I was at it valve guides and seats. The only reason (all other things being equal) to work on the transmission IMO, would be if the seal between the engine and bell housing is leaking. Once you have to separate the two... might as well go in there. But it doesn't sound like that has been a problem for you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,087 Posts
I'm not a fan of postponing the inevitable. If you don't know when the head gasket was changed last, I'd go ahead and replace it. At 118k mi., I think it may be time for a head gasket... I fully agree with the other posters: a head gasket has nothing to do with rebuilding the engine. Given the mileage of your car, a little head work, as suggested, would be in order. The only other work I would consider is replacing the rings.

Best regards,
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for all of the tips!! The Transmission has the 2nd grind going on, but if you are 'gentle' when finding second, you can by-pass it. :) Other than that, the power is good and she drives beautifully. Sooo, I think I will start with just the head gaskets this year. The car's purpose is just for toodling.....and she does that great!
My mechanic is Alfa possessed...he begged me not to take my car anywhere else and thus far has been pretty fair and good to me. What price should I expect to pay for replacing the head gasket and machining the heads??
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
464 Posts
Agree with most of the above, just do the head, no biggy. Would torque it and wait first too. These alfa engines are phenomenally strong. I just pulled a 1970 euro 1300 that I only did the head on 5 yrs ago. Bottom end original and still in super condition. They will run a long long time if well maintained.
My machine shop charges me 185.00 to do heads so I suppose around 200.00 plus labor should do it.
Ralph
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Hi again...
I just pulled my little Alfa out of the garage for my 3 months of sports car driving, and after I bled the clutch, and charged the battery, away we went!! So fun!!
I can't help but notice there is still OIL in my cooling system though!! :(
The question is....I have the manual, I have some time, and I have the desire to learn how to do this....do you think that I can pull the head off the motor and replace the head gasket?? Or is it toooo big a job?? Any other advice??
Thanks!!
Kerry
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
17 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
Also ANY hobbyist mechanics in the White Rock area who might be looking to work on an engine??
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,013 Posts
Love the '91 man. They'll have to bury me in it. It's nowhere near as good a car as the Milano, but it's way more fun to drive.

'course, I spent the first two years of ownership working out the kinks, but that's Alfas for you. It's pretty solid now.
a milano and an s4 spider - you have the best of both worlds.

I agree with Richard. I would start with having the mechanic flush out the radiator, re-torque the head and wait 500-1000 miles and do a test to see if you are still getting oil in the coolant.

I had the same problem with my '92 (with only 48k). I ultimately did have the the head gasket redone and while I was at it valve guides and seats. The only reason (all other things being equal) to work on the transmission IMO, would be if the seal between the engine and bell housing is leaking. Once you have to separate the two... might as well go in there. But it doesn't sound like that has been a problem for you.
you re-did your seats?
 

·
But Mad North-Northwest
Joined
·
10,082 Posts
Kerry, did you get the head gasket replaced at any point? If not, then no surprise there's still oil in there.

If you had the head gasket replaced, it's important to retorque the head bolts after 1500 miles. If this isn't done it can start to leak again. The other possibility if the head gasket was replaced is that it may just be residual oil in the cooling system. It can be *really* tough to get all the oil out...you'll probably need to flush it a few times. I hear Dawn dishwashing detergent in water works well for this and won't damage the aluminum.

a milano and an s4 spider - you have the best of both worlds.
It's more like I've been cursed by the gods. Twice. :D
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
10,184 Posts
It can be *really* tough to get all the oil out...you'll probably need to flush it a few times. I hear Dawn dishwashing detergent in water works well for this and won't damage the aluminum.
Gee, I don't know. I can't give a specific reason why this bothers me, but putting Dawn in my cooling system somehow sounds like putting sugar in my gas tank, or sand in my crankcase.

What you might do is to pull the plastic overflow tank and while it is out of the car use Dawn to remove the oil residue from it. Put some gravel + detergent into it, shake it well, and it should come pretty clean. Why just clean the tank? Well, after it has been reinstalled, and you have driven another few hundred miles (after re-torquing the head and flushing the cooling system), you will be able to tell if oil is still getting into the coolant.
 

·
But Mad North-Northwest
Joined
·
10,082 Posts
If you've had oil in the coolant, cleaning the overflow tank will not get it all out. Every single hose and coolant passage is coated with oil, and as soon as you start driving you'll get oil in the coolant tank again regardless of whether you still have a leak. I speak from experience.

Dawn shouldn't hurt anything in the cooling system, and it supposedly does a good job of removing the oil. It's very mild compared to other radiator flush compounds, and quite honestly there's not much to damage in the cooling system: as long as what you're using doesn't attack aluminum or rubber and you flush it out completely at the end it should be fine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Sad to say, I also purchased a 91 and didn't discover its true condition until it was offloaded from the transporter. I bought on Ebay from a CA dealer who lied about everything.
The oil is weeping down the side of the block and the overflow is black. Reading between the lines of all the comments what I am hearing is that the gasket can wait until an overheating problem arises. Am I correct? My car runs in the normal temp range and the thought of taking it off road in the middle of summer hurts. I'd rather wait until winter if I can hold out.
Any suggestions/recommendations would be greatly appreciated. Oh, the odo shows 78k which I have trouble accepting seeing as how the speedo stopped the second week I had the car.

Thank you all.
jack
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top