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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
greetings all, new to the forum. I have been a fan of all things Italian (food, wine, cars, and woman...not necessarily in that order) for some time. in the past I owned a couple of FIATs (a 124 spyder and a X-19 that I race prepped the engine on).

I am going to be in the next week be buying a '91 124L with 103,000 miles. the body is flawless and the engine is tight. shifts smooth (auto trans) and runs very well. I am very excited to once again be driving such wonderfull vehicles.

my questions are this.
  • blower fan does not work, where to begin diagnosis ? tried wiring direct, works fine.
  • leaked a little coolant from overflow after extensive driving. problem area, or just hot?
  • one of the hubs are stripped where the wheel bolts thread in. thinking redrill them for studs, or helicoil. recommendations
  • rear sway bar is removed, because one mount is stripped. helicoil the bolt hole, redril larger, or?
  • power seats do not work on all functions. not diagnosed yet. heard tapping the motors for them sometimes helps.
  • a.c refitted to 134a, but no freon in it. not sure when it was last used. need to check the pump. etc. (thinking if not functional, will tear it off to save weight and improve performance)
overall the car is very solid, and the price is definitely right. ( $1,200 ) so I figure I can afford to invest some. can do the work myself, will know more where to go after I have the car, and have time to start tearing into it.

any potential problem areas to look for? (already know the gears for the heater)


these are the future plans,

...performance chip (any that improve auto shift performance/shift points)
...any build kits, torque converters, etc for the auto tranny (is it needed?)?
...open element air filter
...performance exhaust (oversized tubing/cat?)
...alluminum performance radiator (gets hot in new orleans in the summer)

potential ideas, if I decide to go crazy...

...can a 24v head/cam assembly be fitted to the standard engine?
...can a turbo from an italian 2.0l engine be retrofitted? (have friends in Italy, so able to get used parts easily)
...anyone make body kits, carbon fiber, etc? (would love to have a carbon fiber hood and fenders from touring car competition, front ground effects, and side skirts)

will post pics soon as I have the car. business deal scheduled to close wends to fund purchase.


Kevin
 

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Hello Kevin, congratulations on your find. I'm sure you will discover the 164 to be a well-built car.

  • blower fan does not work, where to begin diagnosis ? tried wiring direct, works fine.
There is a 40A bar fuse on the back of the 'false firewall' (as it is called - the black-coloured board at the back of the engine bay). This is the most likely cause, but otherwise sounds like the speed controller module or its connections. I think this module is bolted to a metal plate on the evaporator casing - basically just a case of following the wires. The fan is electronically-controlled on air-conditioned models and this 'module' has the relevant type of output transistors. I don't think failure is that common but I have seen one faulty module (on a Lancia Thema). Heater components are shared with the Saab 9000, Lancia Thema, and FIAT Croma (most Cromas though have resistor pack/manual switch), though in the USA the latter pair are unlikely to be any use as parts donors - not sold there at all (!)

  • leaked a little coolant from overflow after extensive driving. problem area, or just hot?
I was not aware that there was an 'overflow'. The header tank in the 164 is a central part of the cooling system (main hose underneath + two on top) and as such, any loss here is a loss from the working fluid of the system. In other words, the tank is not merely an overflow from the radiator (as you might find in a Japanese car or older FIAT). I wouldn't be overly concerned yet, since the tank may be simply overfilled (level should be up to (but not above) a raised ridge at the front of the tank). Then, I would try replacing the tank cap, which serves as the radiator pressure cap (in effect). Make sure that the coolant level sensor is tight.

  • one of the hubs are stripped where the wheel bolts thread in. thinking redrill them for studs, or helicoil. recommendations
Personally, I would remove centre hub nut and swap hub (and bearings) complete (press out of bearings for front, for rear I think that replacement bearings include the hub). Otherwise you could fit helicoils, but if removed to do this, you may as well replace. I'm not in favour of fitting studs myself - then you have two threads to fail ;)

  • rear sway bar is removed, because one mount is stripped. helicoil the bolt hole, redril larger, or?
Again I would be inclined to bolt off/bolt on parts to repair (I presume the mount is stripped in the front trailing arm) but otherwise I think I would redrill larger and fit a nut + longer bolt.

  • power seats do not work on all functions. not diagnosed yet. heard tapping the motors for them sometimes helps.
This is probably the easiest one of the lot. :) Like yours, my 164 had a mostly-dysfunctional passenger's seat - the backrest tilted, but that was it. I found the idea of tapping the motors rather strange, but decided to give it a go anyway. I got a large screwdriver and a hammer, placed the screwdriver squarely on the end of the motor casing, and gave a couple of moderate taps (to each motor). To my amazement the motors burst into life immediately when I operated the switches. It really was that easy...

  • a.c refitted to 134a, but no freon in it. not sure when it was last used. need to check the pump. etc. (thinking if not functional, will tear it off to save weight and improve performance)
Does the compressor cut in and out? Mine did, but didn't actually cool.
If the freon is really low, the compressor won't cut in. An air conditioning specialist should be able to test for leaks (electronic sniffer) or if the system has a dye in it, a UV light. In my case we didn't find any leaks, so I decided to have the compressor shaft seal replaced (more accurately, I noticed the compressor had a wobbly pulley (bent shaft) so I obtained a replacement and got the shaft seal replaced). We are now going to flush the condensor and replace the expansion valve. The work isn't costing much (a couple of hundred perhaps).

I wouldn't bother to 'tear off' the air conditioning to save weight - just leave a passenger at home, leave the tools in the garage, or half-fill the tank if the weight makes a difference to you ;) The climate-control system is very clever, very much a part of the 164 (unlike the older FIATs such as your 124 Spider where the air-conditioning was a bit of an afterthought and I would agree with removal) and you will appreciate the air conditioning when the winter comes - all windows demist much faster, much easier to drive.

Make sure in the meantime to press the 'ECON' button - that alters the mapping of the air-blending (heating) to suit the air-con compressor being inactive. With the blower motor inoperative, it will be difficult/impossible to test whether air is coming out of the right places, but if not, you can take the whole dashboard out of the car to service the system properly (I've done this :)) Others have cut a hole in the glovebox or 'partially removed' the dashboard, but I reckon it's easier to unplug wiring, remove centre console, remove steering column, and remove four nuts on firewall - basically that's all that's needed to pull the whole dashboard as a unit. I did this without even disconnecting/removing A/C gear, though with that out, the four nuts are easier to reach.

Other common faults... I had a string of age-related failures on mine - tie-rod end, front anti-roll bar (sway bar) drop-link bushes, CV boot, all within a couple of days. Engine mounts, especially the front one which is originally oil-filled, are also a common failure covered many times on the forum. Probably the best thing is to do an advanced search (in the 164/168 forum) for a few key phrases when you have the time. On the other hand, some things that don't seem to fail are shock absorbers and wheel bearings.

My previous 164 was an auto, and I found it to be a great unit, well-matched with the car's performance, no 'slipping' feeling thanks to the lockup torque converter in 3-4. Shifts seemed quite sharp to me as standard, so I wouldn't bother with a shift kit etc. that is useful on some autos that slip clutches for smoothness. I think I would get the fluid flushed/changed by someone with one of those machines, and do some searches here on cleaning/changing the fluid filter.

Others here will discuss your planned modifications better than I could, but hit up Jason (Alfissimo) some time for the upgraded radiators. His posts crop up frequently here!

Cheers,
-Alex
 

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From what you've said I think you may have a decent project car. If body is as clean as stated you are ahead in that area. As far as the rest goes expect at least a few grand to bring up to snuff as long as car does not overheat. Where is the overflow from? The tube or is the cap seeping? And does the car indicate temps over 250 degrees? I'd get that rear sway reinstalled and it should not be too expensive, seats maybe simple, clean contacts, lube them too and you could be golden. AC may or may not be pricey! Fill with R134A and have system checked for leaks. I would not remove since I know how NOLA summers can be. A peformance chip is only as good as the company making it. Avoid the Ricambi knock offs, they are junk. Squadra makes a good one but they are a bit pricey. As far as 24V heads, they will not work on a 12V engine. Aftermarket exhaust is a good idea but it depends on how much you want to spend. Ansa is reasonable, Stebro is too loud in my opinion and very costly.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
the overflow was from the overflow hose after the car was shut off. turned ignition back on, temp still showed around 190 deg. seemed to be boiling over. my guess, rad cap not pressurizing enough. easy fix.

as for the body, rust free and no history of accidents (did carfax report). so definitely ahead on that.

will do some closer looking at the stripped bolts...but even if I need to get salvage parts for them, sitting good financially. especially as I have a girl in milan italy that can locate the parts there and send them to me.

in thinking, best to stay with the 12v as it makes a bit more torque, and in america that is what you really need.

thanks all (present and future replies) for the input and advice. looking forward to owning an italian car again (and one to be proud of)

kevin
 
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