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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I'm somewhat of a beginner ... it has been many years since I have been under the hood of an Alfa and then it was something I did with someone with more experience.

Just got this car a few days ago and I am noticing two issues:

1. When steering, I sometimes hear a click sound. I tried looking for old posts and most that complained of something like this made it sound like it was much louder than what is happening for me. I have an appt on Monday at a shop that is an hour's drive away - should I be concerned about driving it there? The person who initially looked at the car noted that he thought there may be a leak coming from the steering box, but hard to tell given how dirty things were. How do I check the level?

2. The battery drained after a few days sitting. Other posts talked about a drain from a radio? The battery is an Interstate top of the line and is new. The radio, lights, etc ... all worked, but it would not start the car. I jump started it and drove it for maybe 5 miles, turned it off and it had no problem restarting immediately and again an hour later. I am in Western NC - so we have had some days in the 20's. Today it was 60 when I tried to start it.

Ideas?

Thanks for your help.
 

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2. The battery drained after a few days sitting. Other posts talked about a drain from a radio? The battery is an Interstate top of the line and is new. The radio, lights, etc ... all worked, but it would not start the car. I jump started it and drove it for maybe 5 miles, turned it off and it had no problem restarting immediately and again an hour later. I am in Western NC - so we have had some days in the 20's. Today it was 60 when I tried to start it.

Ideas?

Thanks for your help.
Loose or dirty battery clamp. Check your battery clamps.

Parasitic battery drain. Do you have a multimeter? If so, you can use it to determine whether something is sucking electrons with the ignition off, also known as parasitic drain. That something might be a small bulb or a defective motor or switch. BTW Is your fan or wiper switch still on when you turn off the car?

If you don't have a multimeter, they're very cheap these days at $10 or so. Harbor Freight offers one for free with a purchase from time to time.

How much drain is an issue? A 5W bulb pulls approximately 400 milliamps, which is too much. if your 71 is like my 74 there should be negligible drain, close to zero.

Charging system. You can also use the multimeter to check the battery's charging voltage. (Did a shop install the battery and check the charging system?)

I recommend getting a quick battery disconnect which allows you to disconnect the battery without removing the battery from the car. I use it as a simple anti-theft device, but it also eliminates parasitic drain. If the car is parked in a garage, you might consider getting a battery tender which keeps the battery charged.

Having recently diagnosed and resolved my 74's electrical gremlins I feel for you.
 

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Using a test meter: set it on DC amps. With everything turned off, remove the fuses one at a time and connect the meter in place of the fuse. If you get an indication of current then something in that circuit is pulling current. You then look at the fuse description to see what is being fed by that fuse and go from there. But you could check the light in the glove box. If the switch that is operated by the hinged cover has moved it could be leaving the light on all the time and you cannot see it with the door closed. Remove the bulb if you think it is the problem.

The worst case scenario for you steering is that the steering box has cracked. Clean off the outside with kerosene then soapy water or degreaser and look at it closely. Do not drive the car if the box is cracked. There will be a filler plug on top of the steering box. remove it and poke a pencil or screwdriver into it to check the oil level. Top it up with gear oil if it is low. Leaking steering boxes are not uncommon and many people fill them with thin grease if they don't want to pull the box for repair. I have driven a GTV many tens of thousands of miles this way.
 

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If it's a subtle "clicking" sound it's probably the turn signal arm return spring which is a long thin coil spring that's wrapped around the steering shaft.

The 72's came with a Burman steering box and unfortunately it is probably cracked. FWIW it's not going to break while you're driving down the road, if it does bust it will be while you are parallel parking or doing some other maneuver that requires you to crank the wheel with little or no forward or aft movement. Have someone turn the wheel left and right while parked and observe the box for any movement or distortion.

A lack of lubrication along with running oversized tires or tires with low pressure are the root causes of these problems. If you need a new box you can replace it with a ZF box out of a newer model with low mileage. Larry at APE should have literally a ton of them.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Please don't laugh! Where in the engine compartment can I find it. All my books only talk about checking the levels and no where does it show you where it is. It may be obvious when I lift the hood - but if you can give me a hint ... that would be great.

Does the '74 also have a Burman steering box? I have a '74 waiting for restoration and I may be able to take it from there until the car is ready to work on.

Thanks for the help.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Easy to find!

There was nothing in it. Filled it with Valvoline 80W-90 Gear Oil.

There are no large cracks. I did take some engine degreaser and cloth and wiped as much off the top of it as I could. There may be a very slight crack, but nothing my finger nail could feel and it doesn't originate at one of the bolts. It may just be a scratch. Need to get a better cleaner and take a better look. Starting to get dark. It is on the opposite side closest to the windshield. Based on advice above ... sounds like I can still get it to the shop tomorrow in Charlotte - just don't do any hard steering. I'll check the level tomorrow morning before I take off. The car has new tires, so should be good. They are only a little wider (195-60-r14).

Thanks.
 

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There was nothing in it. Filled it with Valvoline 80W-90 Gear Oil.
The seal at the bottom has most likely failed, in which case you will soon have a pool of oil on the floor. Rich Davvison - gprocket has posted a lot about repairing Burman boxes. It may be possible to replace the seal without removing the steering box (which is a pain). Or as I posted earlier, you can fill the box with grease. Some of the purists don't like it but it is effective.
 

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Does the '74 also have a Burman steering box? I have a '74 waiting for restoration and I may be able to take it from there until the car is ready to work on.
Yes, a '72 and '74 spider would use the same steering box. In fact, pretty much all of the parts will be interchangeable.

I'll check the level tomorrow morning before I take off.
As alfaparticle wrote, if it's leaking badly you'll see a puddle. If it's leaking slowly, then you won't see the level drop overnight. So no need to pry off the cap and check the level; just look for drips on the floor. If no big puddles, you should be fine for 1,000 miles or so. But letting the box run dry is a no-no; find and fix the source of your leak (either a worn seal or a crack).
 

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