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'79 Spider - Gasket Blow Out?

816 Views 24 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  rogerspeed
Hello, I just bought my first Alfa, a 1979 Spider 2000. I know a little about these cars, but figured I would learn more about them along the way. It's a nice driver, however, while driving the oil decided to vacate the car. Getting underneath it, I had to wipe away a lot of oil to figure where it could have been coming from and found this on what I'm thinking would be the oil pan (or a sump pan?), and appear to be a blown gasket. Lot of oil from this area, and the dripping seemed to be from this area (see the photo). I did wipe some oil away to find this.

But I'm wondering then is this likely the place, and is that a gasket, or just sealant? Also the screw in the picture doesn't have a collar/washer on it like most of the other ones holding this pan in place (you can also see it pooling a little oil). Between doing this and having to leave for the weekend I didn't have time to check the screws for tightness. A couple random loose bolts on the grate over this area makes me wonder if the previous owner or a previous mechanic may have not done so well on whatever the previously did under here. Of course, there didn't appear to be anything wrong like this before I paid for the car, but there's always something you overlook. If this in the picture is the source and its what I'm thinking it is, what would I be looking for as for a fix? I ended up on Alfaholics and found sump gaskets, so maybe me calling it the oil pan is inaccurate. I may not be thinking of or using the right terminology. Am I looking for a gasket? Could I take this pan off, clean it up, and close it up with an off the shelf sealant? I do know of a nearby mechanic who specializes in Alfas, but I'm curious how difficult it would be to handle myself.

Thanks for any help/suggestions. This is my first post. Please be gentle. 馃槍

Yah I'm guessing that's not supposed to look like that. This was much oilier before I wiped it down looking for pooling, although by this point the oil was pretty much depleted from what I could tell. Oil pressure was about 0. At least the gauge seemed to work.
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I see traces of orange Permatex, so someone tried to fix this before.
You could do this yourself if you have access to good safe place where you can jack the front of the car up.
Make sure your car is safe to get under, first and foremost.
Jack stands required.
Drain the oil and drop the lower part of the pan.
Thoroughly degrease both surfaces where the gasket seats.
Brake cleaner, carb cleaner, engine degreaser or whatever you choose to use.
Install a fresh gasket and, yes, add some washers where the previous owner left them off.
Put it all back together and that should help with THAT oil leak.
Be advised, Alfas leak oil.
Like my Alfa buddy said, "If it's not leaking oil, its out of oil!" :LOL:

Buying a used Alfa is usually an adventure in chasing down and fixing some issues.
Once they are sorted, they are great cars!
Drive it and enjoy it!

I'm sure some other folks will chime in.
Good luck with your car.
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Hey thanks for the response! Knock on wood, that doesn't sound like a super intensive job, as long as I can get under it comfortably. I had it up on ramps but didn't have as much room as I'd like. I was expecting some leaking sure, but what I got was a bit more than just a couple drips, lol. What's a good place to get one of those gaskets then? Alfaholics? Although I'm in the US and they seem to be Euro, so not sure how soon I'd get that.
Certainly. Glad to help.

Be advised that you will need to thoroughly clean both surfaces of all remnants of the old gasket.
Take a straight razor at an angle and carefully scrape away little bits that remain.
Oil, particularly synthetic oil, will find a way to leak out otherwise.
Gaskets are good for decades if the surfaces are properly prepped.

Don't over tight your bolts. Aluminum is soft metal...
What's a good place to get one of those gaskets then? Alfaholics? Although I'm in the US and they seem to be Euro, so not sure how soon I'd get that.
You should be able to find the gasket(s) you need at Centerline or Classic Alfa. With either place you should have them in a week or less.

Buy Alfa Romeo Parts & Accessories, Centerline Alfa Romeo

105 SPIDER PARTS - GASKETS - Page 1 - Classic Alfa
Just wondering, are we looking at the lower or the upper part of the pan? As the upper is a bit more work to remove. I am currently doing the same, maybe steal some info out of my topic:

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This was the lower part of the pan, but I was thinking maybe if I replace one I should replace both to be safe. I'll check out your thread, thanks!
This was the lower part of the pan, but I was thinking maybe if I replace one I should replace both to be safe. I'll check out your thread, thanks!
Your picture is of the back of the upper pan by the clutch slave cylinder.
Lower pan is the part that has the fins on it.
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Oil pressure was about 0. At least the gauge seemed to work.
when was oil pressure about zero?
Replacing the upper pan will require more effort.

Be advised that there will be messy old gunk oil accumulated in the lower pan. :sick:
Upper pan gasket replacement will be more involved.
You may want to recruit a mechanic's assistance.
Someone who is familiar with Alfas.
The oil pump hangs down through the upper section.
I thought the lower part of your pan was leaking. My mistake.
I was viewing this on my smartphone and the image was small.
I don't want to lead you down a path of destruction.

@ Jim G: Is this something that can be accomplished by a home mechanic?

Here's what you're looking at:
Upper section

Lower section:

Exploded diagram:
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@1978alfa I think I am a 'home mechanic' and just started the same operation. I've had some great help from the members here. I think this job is doable with a bit of experience with spanners.

It took me about 2,5-3 hour to remove both the oil pans. Sadly I noticed a leaky liner of cylinder #2, so the job is a bit larger than expected.
The tip from Jim with some wood under the engine mounts gave me enough room to remove the upper pan.
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The photo I snapped was from the little bit of time I was under the car, so I was mistaken. I pretty much bought it, drove it home, got under it see where the problem was, and left for the weekend. And then apparently forgot what part I was looking at when I made the thread. Oops, sorry! Thursday I'll get back too it. As it is the upper then, I noticed the other thread also mentioning it as being a but more intensive, something about moving or tilting the engine? I haven't had to work with this portion of a car before, much less an Alfa. There is an Alfa mechanic about twenty minutes from me. My gaskets arrive Thursday at some point, but then I'm skipping town for another week. Might be more timely to have the mechanic do it, but I'm not opposed to trying, if only to learn more about it.

@T.Goossens what was your experience in removing the upper? Just a bunch of finagling or was there quite a bit to go through to access the upper pan and get it down? I'd be working off the ground basically, admittedly this seems better if I had like a car lift. Hmm.

@spiderserie4 When all the oil left. I noticed it going down while driving it, we stopped when it seemed to have no further pressure and added oil too it (what we could find anyways to get it back home) after noticing the dipstick had nothing on it at this point. Admittedly, so maybe after checking tires, lines, electrical, etc, we ultimately forgot to check the dipstick and took the seller's word that he had checked it and it was fine. The engine appeared to be a bit oily so I left it at that. Never claimed to be 100% all of the time. I honestly do not know if there was oil in it when we left with it, but the oil pressure looked good, and didn't drop till later. I wouldn't expect the dipstick to be dry, though? I dunno, maybe that will clear something up. With that said, the car didn't seem to be running poorly otherwise.
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The engine appeared to be a bit oily
That's normal for an Alfa.

Before you tear into it, I would drain the oil, change the filter and fill it with oil. Put a few miles on it and keep check of the level.
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Older Alfas consume oil, like any old car.
A quart ever couple hundred miles isn't out of the ordinary.
Worn valve guides, worn rings and leaking gaskets are the usual suspects.
As long as it isn't terrible and there's none getting into the coolant,
some owners choose to just live with it, keeping an eye on the dip stick.
Oil and coolant mixing means the head gasket has retired.
The sump holds around 7 quarts. Just be careful not to overfill it.
Be advised that there is a small oil filter on your SPICA injection pump.
3 small bolts holding a circular plate to the side of the pump.
Don't forget to change it periodically.
@CZSeventyFive I am working on jack stands to. It is not undoable or something like that. It took me about 2,5-3 hours in total to remove the lower and upper pan. Tilting the engine is needed to make space for the upper pan to pass the crossmember (I was helped with the 2cm the wood pieces gave me). So if your engine mounts are in the same condition as mine, it is a good time to replace them.

Basically what I've done:
  • Jack the car
  • Remove both front wheels
  • Drain coolant and remove radiator (not sure if this is necessary but I appreciated the space)
  • Drain engine oil
  • Remove sump guard
  • Remove lower pan (mine was a bit stuck due so applied sealant)
  • Unbolt the engine mounts at the car side
  • Raise/tilt the engine a bit and place 2 pieces of wood underneath the engine mounts
  • Remove the upper pan
  • Find out I needed to replace the liner seals.. :rolleyes: Hope you will skip the step...
  • Removing intake side/and head etc. to access the cylinder liners.

I had a small crack in the lower pan. I hope to get it back tomorrow from the welder, and keep the my topic up-to-date.

Also the cigarette seals (2 of them) became in reach to replace them:
I found a tip on the BB to apply loctite 510 when mounting them back.

Feel free to ask this 'home mechanic'. I think I am in the same stadium as you described. No previous old-timer experience, and jumped into 'the deep' because the love for Alfa. The help from this board is amazing.
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As long as I can give myself enough room to maneuver under the car, that actually doesn't sound all that bad. My gaskets won't be until Thursday afternoon likely, but I can prep all that mean time.

To answer a few others, unfortunately I don't think this is a leak that I can tolerate, given the speed it drains itself at while running. To extrapolate: after we put oil in it, we dr9ve it again, but switched drivers so I was now following in my other car. It was fine, until at one point my windshield was splattered with oil. So I'm afraid one way or another this particular leak needs to be dealt with before it goes back on the road.

This is all very helpful though! Very appreciated!
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Oh, if you're getting oil on the windscreen in a pursuit car, you need to look after this.
Oh, if you're getting oil on the windscreen in a pursuit car, you need to look after this.
Ditto. You might want to have your friendly neighborhood Alfa mechanic give a good going over. Check plugs, check compression, etc鈥︹.
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