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Discussion Starter #1
Hey guys,

Thanks again to every one who offered assistance with my last most recent posting about State inspection woes.

Long story short, I picked up the car this morning... thankful that it was done, paid my $800.00 and walked away mumbling foul language in italian.

Any who, I started to pull out of the mechanic's drive way and give her a right italian tune up, when I noticed the car dragging a little bit... almost as if I were standing on the brake. So I started to think what the heck did these A$$ holes do to my car when a kid in a honda pulled along side and yelled your brake caliper is smoking.

SO... in a flash I pulled over and there it was... the chrome paint on my calipers was burning away from the heat. I called the mechanic and he said that his helper made an adjustment to the emergency brake.

At this point I looked at the handle... the nut was screwed down all the way so the brakes were not fully disengaging at least on the driver's side.


Going into the trunk and pulling out the emergency box of tools that I keep in there, I took the nut all the way out and drove home to the lovely odor of burning paint.

NOW... here is my problem: The emergency brake WILL NOT engage to hold the car. It will only grab with the nut all the way in.. and I am thinking that its only holding on the driver's side to begin with since that was the side fuming with paint smoke.

I am now at a loss of how to make an adjustment other than at the handbrake itself... and I need to fix this soon as I DO NOT leave my car in gear at any time.

Because of the Alfa V6's weakness for timing belts, I have never let the car rest on the belt for fear that it would skip... SO I have always relied on the emergency brake and a rubber wheel chuck I keep in the trunk when parking on hills. BUT since the brake wont grab, I cant even get out to put in the wedge.

Any and all advice is most welcome, as I would really like to get my 164 up to snuff again.. I have already blocked out my night to wash and wax away all the grubby fingerprints.

Thanks in advance.
Cheers
Martin.
 

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I have had to park my 1990 12v 164 in gear for the last 2 years as the parking brake only works for 2 weeks after the MOT (ministry of transport test UK). I have never had any problems. The way the belt gets damaged is if you stall it the pressure in the tensioner does not ease off for a couple of seconds, so if you start it straight away you put excessive strain on it, I know they can go then. They should be ok, if the engine moves it all moves with it, I thought.

Get some blocks to chock the wheels? Hope you get your $800 back.
 

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I am now at a loss of how to make an adjustment other than at the handbrake itself... and I need to fix this soon as I DO NOT leave my car in gear at any time.
I never use my e-brake. Long ago fear of New England moisture freezing things up overnight..

For a V6, if you're pointed uphill, leave it in reverse. If you're flat, or pointed downhill, leave it in first. It's ok to leave it in gear, what you *don't* want to have happen is for the engine to rotate backwards.

Because of the Alfa V6's weakness for timing belts, I have never let the car rest on the belt for fear that it would skip... SO I have always relied on the emergency brake and a rubber wheel chuck I keep in the trunk when parking on hills. BUT since the brake wont grab, I cant even get out to put in the wedge.
I'm not familiar with the 164, with the V6 you adjust it at the rear calipers (each side).

bs
 

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You adjust the calipers, in theory on the old 164. In reality you take them off, wind them in and out repeatedly for an hour, lubricate and move all the cables, force the biggest spring on you can make fit. They work fine for 2 weeks, and despite everything they just will not adjust themselves like they should in use.

However the brakes when driving put a lot of much newer cars to shame, genuine dual braking system, ABS 4 x big disks all round. Designed to work at 155 mph if you ever get on a track with one!
 

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Here in the U.S., with Martin, rebuilt brake calipers are available. Used calipers are also available. When I had this kind of brake problem on a cheap 164L I bought two years ago, I picked up miscellaneous calipers at $25 each from breakers or friends with extras. They worked. I put them on, adjusted things, cleaned up the ebrake cables, and all was well. The cables are available at decent prices. Check DiFatta. Calipers are available. Check your local auto parts house (even) or RockAuto. Smile. It shouldn't be gruesome.
 

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You need to jack up rear and with nut on cable, test parking brake and see if only one or both parlking brakes work or don't work.

Check to see that cables to both brakes tighen and loosen when lever applied and released.

Cable seizes more often on right rear side (gas filler side). Also parking levers seize in bottom of calipers.

Also apply brakes with pedal and be sure both sides work properly.

Report your findings as you can have a cable problem, piston problem or automatic adjuster problem inside caliper.
 

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It is certainly wise to discover which is the offending part before replacing it. It's best to be conservative about which parts to replace.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Steve, and Mr T,

Ill be sure to check tomorrow since I have the day off from work. Thanks for the advice, its greatly appreciated. One thing that I didnt mention which is troubling me is that all 4 of my brakes are recent.

Last summer I replaced all 4 rotors, calipers, pads, and lines with either new or rebuilt parts from IAP. Do these parts fail like this being relatively new-ish?

Thanks again guys... my 164 and I thank you.

Cheers
Martin.
 

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I'd say they _shouldn't_ fail so soon. Maybe your e-brake linkage is suspect? Check its mounting points and its travel. All the way through the cables. Certainly listen to the comment about only one caliper making up its e-brake contact. Othewise you'd have had _two_ brakes smoking. And you shouldn't have been able to drive without being _really_ blank about it.
 

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Every CAR owner should park their car in gear.

Do you think all the mindless owners of these cars ever cared if their engine rotated backwards?, etc. ... and why would it anyway?, to rotate backwards the car has to move, and in 1st or reverse it is NOT going to (unless it has been hit and then you have bigger problems).

Guys these Alfa Romeos are not egg shells, they are cars and many times owned by non-enthusiasts that happily abuse them all over the world. We need to relax a little :).

Now if the handbrake calipers are like Suds and Alfettas the only place for them is the rubbish bin. They are the worst caliper ever designed, and I am serious. Replace with a Japanese design and yes you will have to redesign the car a little but it will work from then on.

I'd just leave it in gear and back the adjuster off.
Pete
 

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Every CAR owner should park their car in gear.

Do you think all the mindless owners of these cars ever cared if their engine rotated backwards?, etc. ... and why would it anyway?, to rotate backwards the car has to move, and in 1st or reverse it is NOT going to (unless it has been hit and then you have bigger problems)....

I'd just leave it in gear and back the adjuster off.
Pete
Says he with the CHAIN DRIVEN Alfa!!!! :eek:

Martin, I'm with you on this one. I never put my 164 in gear when I leave it sit, it's just not worth a whole top end when you go to start it and it sounds like something just fell off a shelf. I wish I could offer more help other than yelling at the mechanic's "helper" or at least asking them to correct the situation. I always go by the saying (in many cases), if it ain't broken, don't fix it!
 

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I agree the worst calipers ever, should never have been given type approval in the UK. I didn't know you could get others to fit. As for the proper brakes, mine are still working perfectly, they are 17 years old. With good tyres I have to worry about newer cars going into the back of me in an emergency, not the other way around.

Only problem I had was with budget pads, I changed them!
 

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Steve, and Mr T,

Ill be sure to check tomorrow since I have the day off from work. Thanks for the advice, its greatly appreciated. One thing that I didnt mention which is troubling me is that all 4 of my brakes are recent.

Last summer I replaced all 4 rotors, calipers, pads, and lines with either new or rebuilt parts from IAP. Do these parts fail like this being relatively new-ish?

Thanks again guys... my 164 and I thank you.

Cheers
Martin.
If calipers were new or rebuilt be sure parking brake cable and cable housing not the real issue if rear caliper parking levers move freely (maybe a problem if cable has been holding lever partially on for a long period of time).

Usually brake cable and housing fails, corrodes, seizes near right caliper.

Granted the design flaw in rear 164 calipiers is parking brake lever being on the bottom of caliper where it is exposed to wet and dirty road conditions. I had had to fix and replace a few calipers on rescue projects because of this but I have been lucky with both of my daily drivers and both parking brakes work and I use them every time I park car and have been training my daughter to do the same even with her automatic tranny in park. The old adage use it or lose it applies to parking brakes. and keep and eye on brake cable housing for signs of damage, too.
 

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Years ago before I owned my L and it was my parents car, they had an issue with a rear caliper locking up, resulting in a smoking wheel and a melted valve stem cap. They took it to me and I just rotated the pistons back into the calipers a bit and the problem never came back. Until my recent dragging brake problem that was fixed with a new master cylinder. Just get in there and make sure everything is freed up and if you have a lot of miles on your M/C I would consider replacing it, if the symptoms occur mostly when the car is hot. Since you live in PA, it is likely a corroded caliper problem, at the parking brake pivot?
Charles
 

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Remember Martin said he'd replaced the calipers and cables recently. That would point me in the direction of maladjustments and poor cable mountings, with a lack of proper self-adjustment travel on the piston after brake inspection or pad replacement being high on the list. As I _recall_, the calipers need to have the e-brake actuated quite a bit before the mechanism slides back into the proper place. Poor travel (partially binding?) on one caliper e-brake cable would be a good explanation.
 

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After going back and reading the initial post, I think the chrome paint on the calipers is the likely cause of the problem! ;) The car is just rebelling. :p
Charles
 

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Remember Martin said he'd replaced the calipers and cables recently. That would point me in the direction of maladjustments and poor cable mountings, with a lack of proper self-adjustment travel on the piston after brake inspection or pad replacement being high on the list. As I _recall_, the calipers need to have the e-brake actuated quite a bit before the mechanism slides back into the proper place. Poor travel (partially binding?) on one caliper e-brake cable would be a good explanation.
Michael I think you read (added) cables into his post on what he replaced but I don't see words "cable(s)" replaced in his post. Did I miss reading between the lines? OH YES, HE SAID replaced lines but nothing about cables.

Yes, it is true you need to operate brakes and parking brakes to set internal brake adjusters properly.
 

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Notice, the very heavy springs on the back of the calipers, if those are weak or corroded, I believe you are going to have a problem as well. So, many things to look at really, that could cause this, IMHO. Just "exercising" the pistons in the calipers, by rotating them manually back into the calipers, and then using the parking brake several times and the regular brake, to "reset" the calipers to the rotors, is what essentially fixed the L many years ago when this happened, I didn't do anything else, that I recall. Though in your case, you will have to adjust the handbrake adjuster in the console since it has been messed with, so that it clicks, the specified number of click in the manual, 5 clicks, I think? I don't have the manual in front of me.
Charles
 

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I am amazed by all these comments.

Have a 24v 164 and never had any of these problems at all. Is it just a series 1 164 thing or have I been lucky? Yes, I use my handbrake everytime I park the car and it works flawlessly. Fit a Japanese unit instead? If I had wanted Japanese wheels I'd have bought a CRX or Skyline - excellent cars but not of Italian soul.

Richard, UK
 
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